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Friday, October 20, 2006

North Coast Brewing Co. in Fort Bragg, CA

The last two stops on the wild and wonderful Northern California Beer Trek included North Coast Brewing and Anderson Valley Brewing. However, these were more of the quick visit and sample variety rather than a full visit and conversation with staff and/or brewer. However, it was of course fun to check out the homes of these two solid breweries and have some of their suds straight from the source. (Skip ahead three paragraphs if you just want to hear about the beer at North Coast and not my yammering on about the beauty of northern California and Fort Bragg). First up was North Coast Brewing Co. in Fort Bragg, CA. We made our 30 mile journey from Willits to Fort Bragg in something like 90 minutes. But, you know what I mean if you've ever driven the route. The mountains, the switchbacks, the scenery, and numerous pulloffs all explained the slow pace. Actually, check out below another one my panormic creations for a visual explanation. Seems that this was surely the trip of stunning panoramics! We certainly had no idea what to expect on this particular Sunday morning after the Lagunitas Skunk Beer Train event the prior day. However, we made our way to Fort Bragg and stopped for breakfast on their Main Street at Egghead's (an homage to great breakfast fixins and the Wizard of Oz...not quite sure the history, though). Excellent choice, if I do say so. Then, we strolled Main Street a bit while we awaited the day's opening of North Coast at noontime. Another recommendation in Fort Bragg is Roundman's Smoke House. I bought some great jerky of several varieties to have at our weekly Monday Night Football gathering. Beer and jerky? YES! (Beef; Pepper Beef; Beef Teriyaki; Cajun Death; Beef Jerky "Very Hot"; Turkey; Teriyaki Turkey) Ok, so the pub finally opens at noon. It is a Sunday afterall. The pub is located across the street from the brewery. The pub itself is not really large. It has a bit of a more comfy feel to it than many brewpubs. Off the entrance to the left is a dining room and to the right is a smallish bar area with a casual table seating area. Since time was not abundantly in our favor (evening flight from SFO), I lined up a tasting of four of their beers. I've sampled many of the beers at some time in the past, so the one that jumped out at me most here was the year-aged Old Stock Ale. Now mind you that Old Stock (and Old Rasputin) are somewhere in my Top 20-ish beers, period. Age the Old Stock in a bourbon barrel for a year and, yowzah, what you get is one amazingly great beer. I've learned recently that they are planning to put up another batch from 2005. Plus, rumor says that it may be showing up in bottles as well! Beer Trade anyone?! Another beer that is creeping up my all-time favorite list is the Brother Thelonious. What a treat to have here at its home, along with the Old Stock, R.I.S., and the Pranqster. Sunday morning drive through the woods and down the coast, morning after reminiscing on Russian River and Lagunitas, and North Coast beer. Is there really a better way to end a wonderful California trip? Me thinks not! While North Coast may not be the most conveniently located for may of you except the very most local of all beer travellers, it is such a complete and utter joy once firmly planted in a seat at the pub. As you can tell from my writing, we did not stay nearly long enough to get a sense of their food or the knowledge and friendliness of the staff. Plus, their merchandise "store" had not yet opened so I was not able to leave with any glassware, etc. But, just let the beer speak for itself. Outstanding! (In the spirit of the election season: This message has not been endorsed by North Coast!) p.s. For once, it appears there was more space for pictures than words here, ha!

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