Milk straight from the cow is both impractical (who has a cow?) and doesn’t travel well. Let’s talk about beer straight from the brewer. It’s crisp and aromatic, and it’s welcome at summer picnics and bbqs. Lucky for us, we have a handful of good breweries in Western Nevada County where you can enjoy super-fresh beer, and can also grab a growler to go. We talked to three local brewers to find out what they would recommend from their taps right now.
Three Forks Bakery & Brew Co.
The Beer: El Hefe Hefe
14 IBU’s. 5.3 percent abv.
Three Forks Brewmaster and Co-owner Dave Cowie can make a mean IPA, but his true passion is German beer. He regularly brews a traditional Helles Lager, a Maibock, a Kolsch, and a Pils. This is an unusually large number of German beer styles for a small brewery that’s not located in Bavaria.
He admits he is not part of a hot trend in this regard.
“Much to my chagrin, only Hazy IPAs and hard seltzers are taking off,” says Cowie. But he also believes that most people have never really tried traditional German beers, which derive much of their biscuity, thirst-quenching flavors from malt, rather than hops.
Maybe that will change this summer. Cowie is pouring his summer seasonal El Hefe Hefe, a German-style Hefeweizen with spicy, fruity notes of banana and clove, and a thick, creamy head.
Grass Valley Brewing Co.
The Beer: Open California
West Coast IPA
70 IBU’s. 6.5 percent abv.
Grass Valley Brewing Co’s beer lineup is typically all over the board: Hazies, sours, Mexican Lagers, Barleywine. “We try to make everybody happy,” says Brewmaster and Founder Mike Sutherland. That said, sometimes you just have to make a beer that you’re excited about, and for Sutherland, Open California is just that beer. It’s a West Coast style India Pale Ale he began brewing June 4th, that’s dry hopped with Chinook, Ekuanot, and Centennial hops. True to its style, Open California is clear, not hazy, and is characterized by an emphatic, resinous bitterness. The beer is lighter gravity and easy drinking; not a bad choice for pairing with burgers.
And how about the name? Sutherland says they came up with it because the release date was planned right before the “alleged” date of reopening businesses in California. It follows on the heels of an earlier beer they did called No More Tiers. “We’re getting a little edgy,” says Sutherland.
The Beer: All Dogs Go To Valhalla
55 IBUs, 5.5 percent abv.
Bullmastiff Brewing just opened last November, but is already feeling like an old favorite. You can sit in their warehouse space alongside the fermenting tanks, or grab a sandwich from their food truck parked on the patio. Co-Owner and Head Brewer Scott Helmus, from now-defunct Ol’ Republic Brewing, is excited about Bullmastif’s All Dogs Go to Valhalla. A new summer release, this hazy IPA was made in collaboration with a local homebrewer. It’s got a piney blend of Cascade, Azuka, and Citra hops, and bright, bitter, citrus flavors. Helmus said he wanted Bullmastiff’s first California-style IPA to be easy-drinking and refreshing.
“It’s important to me to have clean, drinkable beers, regardless of hoppiness,” he says.
The beer was named as an homage to homebrewer Anna Bellizzi’s recently departed pup, and is also a nod to the brewery’s dog friendliness.
1849 Brewing Co, the fourth brewery in Grass Valley/Nevada City did not return multiple messages left for this story.