The family and some friends headed up Interstate 5 this past weekend for a little relaxation in the mountains. As usual, I made sure we took along enough supplies for the trip, specifically, beer.
Not to bore you too much with the details of a family camping trip, I’ll get to the beer related news. First, I got a little more time with a KeyKeg thanks to Uncommon Brewers and their Golden State Ale. We stripped the keg of the cardboard shell and were left with a plastic ball floating in the ice. I was surprised and pleased to see that the outer plastic of the KeyKeg is clear, allowing you to see the progress you’ve made. I was also very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the beer come Day Four. The bag-in-ball design along with sufficient icing keeps the beer in great condition. I’m thinking the KeyKeg will be something I look for in the future.
In addition to the keg, we also managed to go through quite a bit of bottled beer. This was thanks to two surprisingly well stocked stops along the Interstate. While Northern California is known for good beer selection, the central part of the state seems to lag behind. On the first stop of our trip, we found ourselves at Granzella’s in Williams. The sign advertised a polar bear in the bar, so I didn’t think about even checking the beer selection, but it was hard to miss; full wall of beer, loaded with California micros and even some hard to find imports. After an appropriately greasy on-the-road breakfast, I snuck over to the cooler for a closer look. While I could have walked away with plenty of beer, I settled on a mixed 6 pack of some Speakeasy brews and two new beers for me, Mammoth Epic IPA and Great Sex Brewing’s Adam and Eve Ale. We were also able to grab some Danish blue cheese, which came in handy as my planned cheese supply was left at home.
Farther up the Interstate we found Amirrati’s right outside the Castle Crags State Park front gate. From te outside, Amirrati’s is nothing special for the Shasta region. I assumed this was nothing more than gas station and food mart, but I was in need of supplies so I popped my head in the door. Again, I was greeted with a cooler full of beer. Most of the beer was easily accessible arund California, but these were individually priced with a few hard to find bottles tossed in there as well. What caught my interest were the bottles from Victory out in Pennsylvania. We made a few stops here which netted up the Weiss and Pils from Victory, Double Bastard, Triple Karmeliet and a few others.
While in the area we made sure to swing by the Mount Shasta Brewery in Weed. This was a fun trip. The brewery and brewpub is all in one building. When entering the brewpub side, you get a nice view of the brewery through windows separating the two. For a better look, ask for the restroom and you walk through the brewery. When it comes to the beer, Mt. Shasta puts out a solid lineup. On this day, I really enjoyed the Lemurian Lager, while Duane liked the Golden Ale and Shastafarian Porter. We both agreed on the special of the day, the Strong Mead, as it lacked much flavor other than the brash sweetness of honey and a big kick of alcohol. The atmosphere was fitting in the shadow of Mount Shasta, part ski lodge, part neighborhood bar. If you find yourself in the area, it’s definitely worth the visit.
In all, it was a fun trip. I also brought back a souvenir, a bottle of Castle Crags Ale from Amirrati’s. Nick, the manager of the store, told me that Amirrati’s has been doing craft beer for 30 years, and their IPA started with a relationship with Sierra Nevada. As Sierra Nevada expanded and couldn’t provide the contract brew for the small convenience store, the production moved to Butte Creek. What you have today is a nice light IPA that was designed for the hot summer. The hops are light and bright in flavor, but with a firm finish. It only makes sense to grab a bottle or two of this the next time you make it to the Shasta region. While you’re there, talk to Nick about beer, as he’s more than willing (at least he was when I was in).
Now that I’m back, I feel like I have a million things to do. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure I get back to writing on a regular basis. In the meantime, enjoy the other beer related pictures from the trip including brewery pics.