NORTH COAST: Humboldt County

As an antidote for all the holiday hustle and bustle, my wife and I decided to take a quick year-end road trip. Of course, to me this means beer trip.

I set my sites on Humboldt County and Southern Oregon, since I haven’t tasted in those regions.

It’s a six hour drive from our house to Eureka, so naturally my first stop was in Healdsburg for lunch at Bear Republic.

I’ve been here several times and it never disappoints.

I love their Brewers Mac & Cheese; what a tasty lunch! I paired it with something different than my usual IPA…I tried their winter warmer Old Saint Chango. Loved the hint of Mexican chocolate.

20131230-095622.jpgBear Republic’s Mac & Cheese

We hit our first Humboldt destination, Eel River Brewing, at 4:20 p.m. (seemed appropriate). There was a lively crowd watching the final 49ers game of regular season.

We chose to treat Humboldt County as a “progressive dinner,” so we ordered an appetizer (potato skins) and a sampler of five beers.

  • Acai Berry Wheat
  • California Blonde Ale
  • Organic Amber Ale
  • Organic IPA
  • Organic Porter
  • Everything Eel River brews is organic and all tasted fresh. All five beers were good, but the Porter was the best of the bunch.

    20131230-095958.jpgThe crowd at Eel River
    20131230-100006.jpgMy Eel River flight

    The next stop was Lost Coast Brewery in the heart of Eureka. This was to be the biggest disappointment of the day.

    The restaurant was busy. It’s in an old building and I noticed a variety of odd scents (non-food) as we entered.

    We ordered clam chowder and salad here. I decided against the sampler of 10 beers and instead ordered their Indica IPA.

    Oddly, I never got my beer! That was a first…going to a beer joint and the beer order disappears. Probably a good thing, as the Lost Coast beers I’ve had in the past have never ranked very high on my list.

    We finished our first course and headed on.

    20131230-100340.jpgThe crowd at Lost Coast
    20131230-100347.jpgMy empty coaster at Lost Coast

    Next stop: Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake.

    This was a nice comfortable pub, a place where a local could hang out and socialize.

    No food here, but I sampled five serviceable brews.

  • Steelhead Extra Pale Ale
  • Jamaica Brand Sunset IPA
  • Steelhead Double IPA
  • Steelhead Extra Stout
  • Gimme S’more
  • The Gimme S’more stout was a treat.

    20131230-100621.jpgMad River Brewing
    20131230-100628.jpgMy flight at Mad River Brewing

    On to our dinner course at Six Rivers Brewery, the second female-owned brewery in California.

    Even though we arrived after 8 p.m. on a Sunday, we had a 45 minute wait. There was a youthful, vocal crowd and it was trivia night.

    The service wasn’t as bad as some of the Yelp reviews suggested (although the hostess was a little sour).

    We decided to share some nachos with tri tip and I ordered a half flight of beers:

  • Six Rivers IPA
  • Sasquatch Double IPA
  • Hammond Trail Cream Ale
  • Strong Blonde
  • Yule Winter Spiced Ale
  • I was disappointed by the IPAs. Neither were hoppy at all. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the Yule Ale. It had a enjoyable blend of spices.

    20131230-100854.jpgThe crowd at Six Rivers
    20131230-100901.jpgMy flight at Six Rivers
    20131230-100908.jpgThe enormous nachos!

    We booked a room at the historic Eureka Inn.

    It’s a cool old hotel, reminiscent of the hotel in The Shining!

    Super big rooms but cold as Hell! Bring extra blankets if you stay here in winter. Although, what I found in the nightstand led me to believe they expected us to keep warm another way.

    20131230-101158.jpgAt least it was still in the wrapper!

    Cheers!

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    Awards announced for this weekend’s West Coast Brew Fest

    Winners have been announced in the competition part of the Annual West Coast Bew Fest. Beers were judged in 16 different categories. Multiple award winners include Lost Coast Brewery (5), Old Hangtown Brewing (4), River City Brewing (4), Sequoia Brewing (4), Tioga-Sequoia Brewing (4), Feather Falls Casino Brewery (3), Firestone Walker (3), Uncommon Brewers (3), and 21st Amendment (2). The beer festival portion of the event will be held next Saturday, May 19th at Miller Park in Sacramento.

    By region, the California award-winning beers were:

    BAY AREA
    1st Place, Belgian Ales – 21st Amendment Brewing Monk’s Blood
    3rd Place, Other – 21st Amendment Brewing Back in Black

    CENTRAL COAST
    1st Place, English Ales – Firestone Walker Double Barrel
    1st Place, Porter – Uncommon Brewers Baltic Porter
    2nd Place, Belgian Ales – Uncommon Brewers Siamese Twin
    3rd Place, American Pale Ales – Firestone Walker Pale 31
    3rd Place, India Pale Ale –  Firestone Walker Union Jack
    3rd Place, Belgian Ales – Uncommon Brewers Golden State Ale

    GOLD COUNTRY
    1st Place, Light Lagers – River City Brewery Helles Maibock
    1st Place, Amber Ale – River City Brewery Wooden Head
    1st Place, India Pale Ale – Knee Deep Brewing Simtra IPA
    1st Place, Brown Ale – Loomis Basin Brewing St. Paddy’s
    1st Place, Stout – Feather Falls Casino Brewery Black Jack
    1st Place, Wheat Beers – River City Brewing Hefeweizen
    1st Place, Fruit & Vegetabe Beers – Old Hangtown Brewery Mtn. Meadow
    2nd Place, Light Lagers – Old Hangtown Brewery Hangtown Helles
    2nd Place, Dark Lagers – Feather Falls Casino Brewery Wild Bill’s Winter
    2nd Place, Stout – Old Hangtown Brewery Mineshaft
    2nd Place, Wheat Beers – Feather Falls Casino Brewery Dancing Trees
    3rd Place, Dark Lagers – Old Hangtown Brewery Schwarzgeld Black
    3rd Place, Light Ale – Track 7 Brewing Company Riot Act Rye
    3rd Place, English Ale – American River Brewing Sunrise IPA
    3rd Place, Fruit & Vegetable Beers – River City Brewing Bergamot IPA

    NORTH COAST
    2nd Place, Light Ale – Lost Coast Brewery Sac Blonde
    2nd Place, India Pale Ale – Lost Coast Brewery Indicia
    2nd Place, Brown Ale – Lost Coast Brewery Downtown Brown
    3rd Place, Amber Ale – Lost Coast Brewery Alley Cat
    3rd Place, Stout – Lost Coast Brewery Eight Ball

    SOCAL
    1st Place, Dark Lagers – Tioga-Sequoia Brewery Tamarack Amber
    1st Place, Light Ale – Sequoia Brewing Company Blossom Trail
    1st Place, American Pale Ales – Sequoia Brewing Company Sequoia Pale Ale
    2nd Place, American Pale Ales – Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Mt. Whitney
    2nd Place, Strong Ale – Tioga-Sequoia Brewery General Grant
    3rd Place, Light Lagers – Tioga-Sequoia Brewery Bohemian Pilsner
    3rd Place, Porter – Sequoia Brewing Company Black Oak
    3rd Place, Strong Ale – Sequoia Brewing Company Sasquatch