Something brewing: Robert Snyder, Big Dog’s CFO talks beer
Wed, Oct 5, 2011 (1:43 p.m.)
Photo: Sam Morris
Robert Snyder has been CFO of Big Dog’s Brewing Company—Las Vegas’ oldest brewery—since 2000. The company started as the Holy Cow Brewery on the Las Vegas Strip in 1993 then closed in 2002, reopening as Big Dog’s on North Rancho a year later. They also operate two satellite locations at Sahara and Torrey Pines and Nellis and Owens, and are currently in the midst of an expansion that will allow them to begin selling their beers in 22-ounce bottles.
When will the bottles hit shelves? We get the equipment in January, so hopefully the end of January.
Just in time for those Super Bowl parties. Yep. We don’t advertise it, but if you want a keg for your party, we’d love to sell you one. If the Packers are in the Super Bowl again, this place will be crazy. This is probably one of the best Packers bars west of Lambeau Field, and I’ve been to a lot of them. Last year, we had people camping out 18 hours before kickoff.
You ran the business on the Strip for nine years. Why did you close? The Strip is a positive for selling beer, but it’s a little bit of an impediment for a local business to sell beer, because tourists react to national brands. That’s different from San Diego or LA. Here, national brands invest heavily in making sure their products sell on the Strip. So there’s a little less opportunity for us. We weren’t ready to grow until right now, and we missed a bit of that opportunity, but we’re excited about the future and the potential for growth, including the Strip.
It must be fun working for a brewery. What’s the best part of your job? Aside from tasting the beer? (Laughs) Right now, what’s fun and exciting is planning everything that goes into this expansion. It’s planning how the product is going to look, how the labels are going to read, which products we’re going to bottle. Also, how we’re going to crack our little toe into the door of the Strip.
What’s your favorite Big Dog’s product? Our mixed product, 38 Special, which is half Holy Cow Original Pale and half Red Hydrant, our malty English-style brown. Our owner, Tom Wiesner [who passed away in 2002], played football for the University of Wisconsin, and 38 was his number.
Any breweries you’d like to see your company emulate? We are real big fans of Pizza Port in San Diego. They make really good beers, and they’re very laid back. And we have a great relationship with them. When we hold our local festivals, we try to find ways to bring their products here. Also, I was there a few weeks ago, and they had our double IPA, which we call Spike, on tap. By the way, that beer is named after me.
Wait. You have a beer named after you? Yeah, it was my nickname in college. I’m not the most svelte guy in the world, but I did a volleyball trick, and it was a silly nickname that stuck. My friends think it’s cool, and the beer is great, which helps of course.
Which of your products are you most proud of? I think the Dirty Dog IPA is out of this world. I know people from LA who come up here once a month with empty growlers so they can get their Dirty Dog. That makes you feel pretty good that there’s going to be a market for that.
Pop quiz: You have a growler of your favorite Big Dog’s beer. You have the house to yourself. What do you do? I love to cook with the beer. I marinate steaks in beer; I’ve made stews with it; I’ve steamed clams and mussels with it. I also love sharing it with my friends, because I live in Southern Highlands, and a lot of my friends can’t get up here to try it. But hopefully that’s going to change.
What’s a good movie to watch while drinking Big Dog’s? Well, I watch a lot of kid movies since I have a 7-year-old son. But I like action movies, spy movies, all the Bourne Identity-type films. Those are great to sit around drinking a beer to. And of course, I love to watch football and drink a beer. There’s something psychological—it’s game on,