Sparks Correspondence – November 2019


This is my favorite time of the year, when the temperatures start cooling off, but the sun is still shining (except for the one or two random storms that may come through), and many of Northern Nevada’s native plants start exploding with color.

On top of that, it’s also Great Basin Brewing Company’s Annual Pine Nut Harvest, where they take the 50 pounds of pine nuts sourced around Austin (right in the heart of the Great Basin) and then ask the community to help crack the pine nuts for three days to then brew into a Harvest Ale.

“This beer was first made in 1994, a year after we opened,” says Great Basin Brewing Owner Tom Young. “This was the brainchild of our late master brewer Eric McClary, who was quite environmentally conscious and more artistic than most. He thought, ‘let’s brew a beer to celebrate this great region,’ and for this we incorporated local ingredients, including indigenous juniper berries, pinion nuts, sagebrush, and honey,” he adds. The final product — the Harvest Ale — has a malty flavor that Young says is reminiscent of walking through the Great Basin after a rainstorm.

However, since pine nuts are tough to crack, to create their localized brew the Great Basin owners invited the community to come out and help get the pine nuts ready to be washed, boiled, roasted, and thrown in with the rest of the ingredients. And while it can take the average person about 1-3 hours to create a pint of shelled pine nuts, the yearly event has started to become a family tradition and gives people a tasty reminder and appreciation of what we have in Nevada.

The treasure trove of pine nuts (if all shelled) will make 210 gallons of Harvest Ale and will likely be finished a week before Thanksgiving and available while supplies last. I know I will be there to try it, fondly thinking back to the friends I made, watching the football game, eating some buffalo bleu cheese fries and drinking an award-winning Bitchin’ Berry brew while I shelled nuts. To me, Great Basin’s Get Crackin’ Party is the perfect embodiment of community involvement. Thanks again for including us, Tom!

Here are some other notable events happening in Sparks this month:

Nov. 28- Annual Scheels Turkey Trot

Before you settle into a day of watching football, eating way too much turkey, and then falling into a food coma, get some exercise! Head over to Scheels to participate in a festive 2-mile fun run or 10k around the Sparks Marina. You’re bound to see some creative costumes and feel good about doing something productive before a big meal. For more information, visit

Nov. 28- Thanksgiving Tailgate Buffet at the Nugget

If you don’t feel like cooking or doing dishes, we don’t blame you, and fortunately the Nugget Casino Resort has you covered. From 11am-7pm, you can relax with a traditional Thanksgiving meal and watch the football game that will be displayed on big screens throughout the Nugget Grand Ballroom. For more information, visit

Nov. 30- The Lights of Kindness 2019 and 6pm Tree Lighting at the Outlets at Legends

The Outlets at Legends is kicking off the Christmas holiday with the Lights of Kindness, a cluster of decorated holiday trees that people can vote on, with all the proceeds being donated to local nonprofits. Participants may also sip on some hot chocolate, take pictures with Santa and take a train ride around the holiday forest.

That same evening, friends and family may enjoy a free holiday concert at 6pm, followed by the 11th Annual Tree Lighting ceremony and a fireworks show. Arrive early … the first 250 kids will get a special holiday gift.

Have a happy Turkey Day!

— Kayla Anderson


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