Monday, March 13, 2017

Suds and Snow in the Sierras

This past January we went up to Tahoe.  Seeing as I'm not a winter sports guy I don't go to Tahoe very often. Maggie hadn't ever been and a bunch of friends were renting a house in Tahoma so we joined the party.  We got really lucky that the biggest storm in years just happened to dump hella snow a couple days before we got there and then the weather was gorgeous the entire time we were up there.

On our way up, we stopped at Fifty-Fifty Brewing in Northstar Village for lunch and some delicious crisp beers.  Their beers reminded me a lot of Maine Beer Company due to the crisp and bright flavors.  I'm guessing they have a great water supply either a spring or snow melt.  You can really taste the difference between breweries that use fresh water and those that are stuck with municipal supplies.  We each got a flight of 5 beers.  Maggie stayed on the lighter side ranging from a golden ale to pale ales while I started hoppy and ended dark and brooding with 3 IPAs, a porter, and a stout aged in a Cognac Barrel.  I was a little apprehensive about ordering a barrel aged stout because the last few ones that I had tasted more than root beer than stout.  The waiter talked me into it because apparently the brewery is known for their barrel aged stouts.  Maggie loved all of her choices and there wasn't much sharing.  I found the ale brewed with lemongrass to be interesting but much more of a summer beer than an its 30 degrees outside and I need something to warm me up sort of beer.  The session IPA reminded me of Sculpin's Mango Even Keel so much it was uncanny.  The Rye IPA was delicious.  The porter was one of the best porters I've had in a long time with lots of vanilla and coffee notes.  The stout was by far the best barrel aged beer I've ever had.  Maybe its the Cognac barrel instead of the usual bourbon or maybe they have a superior technique.  I'm not sure but either way its damn good.  The Cognac isn't over powering it still tastes like a stout but with subtle notes that seemed just outside of my grasp.  The only bad part of the experience was the pulled pork in our nachos was a little too sweet and we probably should have gone with the chicken because everything else in the nachos was just what we needed.

When we got to the cabin the power was out.  This was back in January when the big storms were rolling through California.  In order to help warm us up we had an impromptu whiskey tasting.  I brought Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey and my friends brought 4 Roses small batch bourbon, Templeton Rye, and Basil Hayden.  The Hudson was my favorite.  It was more smooth than the rest and the flavors are on point.  The Basil Hayden and 4 Roses were also very good.  The Templeton Rye was too harsh for me.  I can't tell you too much about the night but there was a glow in the dark puzzle and lots of beers involved.

The next day we went snowshoeing in Sugar Pine State Park.  We rented snow shoes and poles for $11 for half a day at a nearby rental place.  Parking in the park was $5.  This was a great value day.  The day started overcast but as we tromped through the powder the sky opened into a brilliant blue.  Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy the beauty that is Tahoe.  Its not as easy as walking but its a hell of a lot easier than walking in deep snow.  Its a good work out especially with the falling and getting up part.  Thats just extra exercise and laughter.  Nothing wrong with that...

On our way back home to the Bay we stopped at Kingvale to do some sledding.  It cost $10 to park and then $10 each to sled.  I always think of sledding as being just for kids and it looks kind of blah but in reality it's terrifying!  I have no problem riding down a hill at 40mph on a bike but a sled just goes where it wants to go and any attempt to lean or steer results in an uncontrolled spin. Actually, sledding made me realize that its for kids because they heal faster and their spines are made of elastic.  There was a short slope with lane dividers and a longer one without.  As you may know its nearly impossible to steer a sled so the open one added extra adrenaline because at any moment my 230lbs could plow into some kid.  Good thing we all signed waivers before we were allowed on the slopes.  The two lower slopes were pretty busy so we wandered up the hill and found 3rd slope with divided lanes that we had pretty much to ourselves and a hispanic family a few lanes over.  We didn't get injured and we had a blast.

We were famished after sledding so we stopped for burgers in Auburn at the Auburn Ale House.  I have been through the upper portion of Auburn with all of its fast food joints numerous times but I didn't know there was a quaint little old town.  The Ale House had the best burger I've had in a long, long time.  It was cooked to perfection (medium rare) with just the right amount of juiciness and bacon.  We both had burgers.  I went with a stout on nitro and she had a golden ale we both enjoyed our beers but we were pretty much over drinking by the end of the weekend.  Since it is in the heart of gold country all of the beers are named after the gold rush.