Joe Pickett’s official title at Ellis Island is Executive Director of Brewery Operations. Joe actually set-up the Brewery at Ellis Island thirteen years ago, prior to that he traveled the world setting up Breweries, from Australia to China.
A Chicago native Joe was educated at the Illinois Institute of Technology and then went to the Siebel Institute of Technology for advance training in Brewing. Joe has been able to make use of his training from both institutions, in that he has recently received a patent on a device to clean the long delivery lines used in most pubs.
Herman Berghoff , owner of the famous Berhoff restaurant in Chicago, was the person that was instrumental in bringing Joe to Ellis Island.
Joe’s philosophy in designing the beers he brews is simple: “Brew beers that people want to drink”, which may seem rather obvious, but in the Microbrew world that is not necessarily the case. Many Microbreweries focus on making the most exotic and unusual beers, which turn out to be unpalatable to most patrons. Patrons at Ellis Island obviously like the beer Joe brews, as this one small location serves about one million glasses a year.
“When I’m in Vegas, I always make sure to stop in at the #1 Brewery for the best micro brewed beer in town. Hand crafted by Master Brewmaster, Joe Pickett at Ellis Island Casino & Brewery!” – Doug Jones, Brewmaster, Anheuser Busch
Ellis Island Brewery Brews Six Styles of Beer Plus Rootbeer
- Amber- with nice balanced Hops.
- Light- brewed directly, not watered down.
- Weiss Bavarian
- India Pale Ale- British style
- Octoberfest- think Carmel Malt
- Root beer 12 secret herbs and spices, make that 11 secret ones plus pure vanilla extract.
Ellis Island Brewery Root Beer is a must try for Root Beer Lovers
If you like Root beer, then a visit to Ellis island is a must. The root beer you get at the supermarket is at best a vague reminder of what root beer should taste like. Joe models his root beer after the original A&W root beer, and has twelve secret herbs and spices, just like the Colonel’s I guess. Joe did reveal that pure vanilla extract was one of the twelve secret ingredients. Brett Ottolenghi was planning on joining me for my meeting with Joe, perhaps we could have sold some of Manuata’s Tahitian Vanilla to Joe.
While many a Microbrewery might turn up their noses at light beer, in keeping with Joe’s philosophy of brewing what customers prefer to drink, Joe’s produces a distinguished light beer. Unlike many American breweries that brew a regular brew and then water it down, Joe brews the light beer directly, which makes for a much more flavorful light beer.
In case you were wondering where they store all the grain used in the brewery, you walked right past the storage area when you entered the building. The grain is stored in the sign for Ellis Island. Take a closer look at the first photo in this article, notice the tubing under the horizontal sign, that supplies the grain to the Brewery from the grain bin.
Ellis Island Brewery and Casino serves some Great Beer Food
The restaurant serves their famous, off-menu, steak special $7.99 for a 10 oz center-cut sirloin steak, with a beer. Metro Pizza, which is adjacent to the Brewery, inside the casino serves some of the best thin crust pizza in Vegas, the locals have voted it best pizza. The toppings are generous, good and fresh, no canned mushrooms here.
Note the sign in the picture: two for one slices and pizzas on Thursdays
Ellis Island serves a BBQ daily from 4pm-10pm, in the Brewery area with outdoor seating. The BBQ is very popular with the locals, lines start forming about one half hour before opening, hour waits are not unusual. For a nice review of the food served at the restaurant inside Ellis Island check out this Food Channel post. The Ellis Island eggnog available only during the Christmas season, also generates a fair amount of favorable internet buzz.
Note the $3 discount for club member, just go to the club booth and sign-up for a card, no gambling required.
Ellis Island Brewery is located behind Ballys