I surprised my husband with a friends road trip to Reno for his birthday this year, and it was filled with beautiful scenery, lots of beer, and good friends.
We had a long drive from Orange County to Reno, about 8 hours. We left very early Friday morning (like 6am) and took off to the 395 for our first stop at Mammoth Brewing Company. After about 4-5 hours in the car, it was a much needed pit stop. We were able to get there right at noon and share a few pints while stretching out our legs and taking in the snowy mountains in the distance. I got the saison, and it was pretty solid. After grabbing a few bottles, we loaded back into the car for the next location – Fifty Fifty Brewing Co.
We stopped to take a few pics at Lake Tahoe and before you knew it we were at the infamous Fifty Fifty brewery and restaurant. We ate some food (pizza and onion rings – the staples of a good diet) and tried a bunch of beers. Afterwards we were invited to tour the tiny brewery and talk shop with the brewers. Peter generously showed us around the compact brewing set-up and I took a few pics as while everyone discussed how Fifty Fifty has such a large presence and how shocking the actual brewing space was so small.
After a long day of driving we traveled the last hour from Truckee to Reno, did a bit of gambling and drinking before crashing out. We had grand plans for day 2 to be spent brewery hopping around Reno!
After a big ass breakfast, we went to the first stop of the day: Great Basin Brewing! We walked in and noticed the place is more like a restaurant then a brewery, but seeing as we had just ate we posted up in the bar area and ordered a few tasters. Overall the beer was kinda underwhelming with a few decent beers and a few unpleasant beers. What really stuck out was how confused the staff was when we said we didn’t want food, and they looked at us like we had just kicked their dog. Oh well, we had more places to go!
Next stop: The Brewers Cabinet! Upon first impression, they seemed like a restaurant first and beer bar second, which is cool but they had the same attitude about the food thing. Maybe most people don’t go around beer hopping in Reno as much as OC but damn… we just wanted to chill at the bar and enjoy some beers! At least the Brewers Cabinet had some really decent beers on tap from their own brewery and guest taps as well. Nice selection of sours too!
The third stop was by far the most anticipated – Brasserie St. James! We really planned the whole trip around this brewery and it was by far and away the best beer we had the whole trip. The 1904 cranberry which is a 100 % Brett Ale aged in wine barrels with cranberries. It was so tasty and slightly tart I had two. We got a few snacks to much on (because they also had food, but strangely they had more of a beer-y atmosphere) and we could do no wrong. The food was delicious and basically every beer we ordered was good AF. Inside it was so tasteful with exposed brick, lots of places to sit and chill, and the service was A+! I wish they weren’t so far because I would come back all the time!
While we were at Brasserie, a fellow craft beer lover commented on my photo and said we needed to visit The Depot so that’s where we headed next! The Depot was in a historic looking brick building with clean accents of subway tile, warm lights and archways that was so inviting. We decided to just have a few drinks, hit one more place then get dinner so we sat at the bar again. We were able to sample some liquor as well as beer because they also distill which was a unique surprise. We hung out until it began to get really crowded with the dinner rush (because – you guessed it – they are a restaurant too) and I could tell if we weren’t gonna order food they were looking to have our group move along. The beers were good, but nothing was too memorable. I was more impressed with the beauty of the space, and I would’ve liked to sample the food but perhaps I will go back another day. They also were doing distilling which was rad, the person who tasted the gin said it was tasty.
The last stop of the day before getting dinner was Imbib which was the first brewery only space we went to all day. I think they had a food truck but there was no restaurant aspect, only people drinking beer and hanging out. They had a decent beers but I was more relieved to not feel guilty about not getting food and have a safe judgement-free zone. It was a chill spot but we were eager to get some food in our systems by this point. We left and ended-up eating at one of those claim jumper-type places and stuffed our faces, and was really tired from such a long day of beer tasting!
We drove back through the picturesque 395 and on our way back stopped at my buddy Brian’s brewery Bravery in Lancaster. I’ve never seen his space and was really excited to visit! Brian’s beers a really good, he does a nice job making clean well-made styles that are sure to bring a lot of praise. If that wasn’t enough, Brian is a charming and humble human being who I love to shower in compliments whenever I see him if only to see him scoff and politely brush off the attention. Bravery doesn’t get the attention it deserves because, well it’s in Lancaster, but you won’t regret making the drive up from LA to visit Bravery. Be sure to tell them how good their beers are!