Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada – Enhancing the Beer Experience in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is always at the forefront of enhancing the tourist experience. From hotels, to dining, cocktails and now they are looking to make beer lovers rejoice. Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada (SWS of NV) recently expanded its expert staff with the additions of Russell Gardner and Samuel Merritt to help educate the local beer industry as well as bring in more craft breweries into Las Vegas.

SWS of NV Cicerone Team - Sam Merrit, Clyde Burney, Russell Gardner; ; photo credit Danette Chappell

Gardner and Merritt join SWS and will assume the positions of Director of Craft Beer and Director of On Premise Beer and Non-Alcoholic Beverages, respectively. They will also be working under the guidance of Vice President of Beer & Trade Development, Clyde Burney, a leader in expanding craft and import beer offerings across the state. For more than a decade, Burney’s team has paved the path for the rising popularity of craft beer by offering an unparalleled selection of the most diverse international and domestic brands in the Nevada beer market. Thousands of venues supplied by SWS of NV will further strengthen their beverage programs as a result of the company’s new hires – two of the leading authorities in beer – with a diverse spectrum of industry expertise.

SWS of NV - Director of Craft Russell Gardner; photo credit Danette Chappell

Prior to his work at SWS of NV, Gardner served as opening Cicerone for one of the most highly acclaimed restaurant beer programs in the city, Public House at The Venetian. As the first Certified Cicerone in Nevada, Gardner also previously held the position of Head Brewer at Las Vegas’ own Joseph James Brewing Company.

SWS of NV - Director of On-Premise Beer Sam Merritt; photo credit Danette Chappell

Currently acting as a consultant for SWS of NV, Merritt will begin his position as Director of On Premise on September 1, 2013. Merritt’s industry prowess includes ten years as the Brand Manager for Brooklyn Brewery and as founder of the Civilization of Beer, a program that brought beer training to the forefront of culinary studies through industry education, public tasting events and in-depth retail consultation.

Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada Beer Division; ; photo credit Danette Chappell

 “The culture of education is already well established for SWS of NV with the best wine and mixology training programs in the country. As the global and national beer market becomes more diverse, there is also a need for serious beer training,” Merritt said. “Through our programs, we’ll empower retailers by educating them to make great decisions for their menus based on a deep knowledge of all products within our rapidly changing beverage landscape.”

The consumer will have an enhanced experience as the businesses that work with Gardner and Merritt will benefit from their knowledge in terms of the basics such as how to appropriately keep, sell and store beer, all the way to more intricate processes such as assisting with restaurants’ development of pairing menus, crafting beer-focused cocktails and cooking with beer.

“Our goal is to give SWS of NV employees and industry professionals at all levels – from servers and bartenders to sommeliers and hotel managers – the knowledge to properly assist guests seeking outstanding beer,” Gardner said. “Creating more beer-savvy employees will establish a better-informed customer base, which will result in superior beer experiences for Las Vegas as a whole.”


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