Climbing a mountain. Catching the fish of your dreams. Finishing off a day of skiing. What do all of these have in common? Besides being outdoor Sierra Nevada activities, they also build up quite a thirst. What better way to celebrate than by partaking in a cold one! Here’s a handful of breweries in the High Sierra that serve up some of the best California beers to finish off your day filled with adventure.
South Lake Brewing Company
Breweries should be inviting places like a community hall. A place to gather, swap stories, and quench your thirst. South Lake Brewing fits this to a tee or as the local’s like to call it “SLBC.” This brewery, only in its second year, has already won 2nd Place at the California State Fair for their Trailbuilder Pale Ale. Brewed in support of the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association, it’s an easy drinking & refreshing American Pale Ale perfect after a day of outdoor fun. If you’re in South Lake Tahoe, this isn’t the ONLY brewery either. We recommend checking out the full Tahoe South Ale Trail as well.
FiftyFifty Brewing Company
Last year at the largest brewery competition in the world, known as the Great American Beer Festival®, FiftyFifty Brewing in Truckee had an impressive showing. In addition to a Gold (in the German-Style Wheat Ale category) and two Bronze medals (in the Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Stout and Specialty Beer categories), FiftyFifty Brewing Co. emerged with the highest accolade a production brewery can achieve in an American based competition: Brewery Group of the Year. Truckee is also home to a craft distillery and three other noteworthy breweries.
Alibi Ale Works
Continue your journey to the legendary Alibi Ale Works. Regardless of if you’re biking the famous Flume Trail or just heading to dinner, this popular brewery offers you TWO locations. There’s the Brewery and Taproom in Incline Village or the Truckee Public House in historic Truckee. With around 15 different beers on tap at their Incline Taproom and over 20 at the Truckee Public House, Alibi hosts arguably the largest selection of beers of any Tahoe area brewery. For those wanting to combine their outdoor adventure with a beer reward, take a peek at North Lake Tahoe’s Ale Trail. This award-winning, interactive map and video series is the ultimate resource for finding a frosty brew and outdoor adventure.
Brewing since 1995, this iconic mainstay is located a hop, skip, and a bottle cap from Main Street in Mammoth Lakes. As the winningest brewery in the Eastern Sierra, a good sample of this is Mammoth Brewing’s Double Nut Brown. Gold award winner at the World Beer Cup, this dark ale is reminiscent of coffee & dark chocolate exhibiting a mild sweetness. Don’t worry… no nuts were harmed in the making of this beer. Mono County is also home to many other outstanding breweries and mountain bike experiences, creating a match made in heaven.
June Lake Brewery
Just a mere thirty minutes from Mammoth Lakes, you’ll find a region nicknamed “The Alps of California.” During the winter, skiers and snowboarders enjoy the slopes of June Mountain. But in the summer, it’s all about the world class fishing. Both activities go well with a cold one at the end of the day. Luckily tucked in this scenic valley, you’ll find June Lake Brewing. This isn’t a regular brewery. It’s run by a mad scientist like crafter of adult beverages. Each visit you’ll be greeted to unique and refreshing takes on beer and ciders you’d never think up. In summary, come with an open mind and you’ll greatly appreciate it. Mono County is also home to many other outstanding breweries and mountain bike experiences, creating a perfect spot for brew aficionados to tour in any season.
Mountain Rambler Brewery
Bishop isn’t just a place to go rock climbing but a mecca for it. All year long, you’ll find great locations to climb. But each fall and winter, climbers descend upon the region to solve the famous bouldering problems such as the Happy and Sad Boulders. Like fisherman and skiers, rock climbers relish the opportunity to celebrate with a refreshing beer. In Bishop, that means a stop at Mountain Rambler Brewery. Here you can enjoy one of their award-winning concoctions outside on their patio alongside dishes made from scratch with locally grown and sourced ingredients.
South Gate Brewing Company
As the name suggests, SGBC is located in the southern gateway town of Oakhurst just outside of Yosemite National Park. Noteworthy champions from their handcrafted lineup include the Oaktown Pecan Brown as well as the Tomahawk Imperial Red Ale. In addition to their award-winning liquid recipes, they serve up mouthwatering meals made with free range chicken, grass fed beef, and locally grown produce. Our guess is if John Muir was alive today, he would save a stanza in his legendary writings for this oasis of brew-dom.
Bear Tent Brewing Company
Regardless if you’re headed into the high country via Highway 108 or zipping over to Yosemite via 120, all roads in Tuolumne County should begin with a tour of their craft beverage trail. One of the highlights on this self-driven tour is the Bear Tent Brewing Company. Dreamed up on a New Zealand camping trip, it’s named after a tavern from 1853 located on the same property in the historic Jamestown. Come for the vintage steam trains and working roundhouse in the Railtown 1897 State Park. And finish it off by toasting the past with a locally brewed beer at the Bear Tent Brewing Company. Now THAT is a winning “Hollywood” combination.
Not Just A Brewery… But A DISTRICT
Visalia might be nicknamed the fruit basket of the world, but it also is basecamp for some of the freshest hops in the Golden State. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in downtown Visalia there isn’t just a brewery, but an entire district dedicated to all thing’s beer-tastic. You’ll find a combination of traditional as well as inventive suds on tap all that you can walk to. Check out What’s on Tap in Visalia’s Microbrewery District to get a “flight” of how to enjoy this hot bed of crafty goodness.
Aptly named after the pioneering spirit of John Snowshoe Thompson. Thompson was well known during the Gold Rush era as he delivered mail while crossing the treacherous Sierra Nevada often in the dead of winter. Just like the man himself, you can trust this brewery to serve up a tasty pint every time. A good example of one of the many Snowshoe Brewing’s award-winning brews is their Apricot Wheat Ale. This gold medal winner at the California State Fair is light & refreshing with subtle hints & aroma of fresh apricots. Just perfect on a hot summer’s day in the mountains.
With such cold, clear, pure water to be accessed, it’s no surprise that these mountains hold many award winning breweries in the High Sierra. But don’t take our word for it. Be sure to visit & explore the vast assortment of new, tried and true breweries.
Author: Alex Silgalis
Alex founded Local Freshies® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.