California leads the nation’s craft brewing industry, producing more craft beer per year than any other state, according to the California Craft Brewers Association. California craft brewing industry is integral to the state’s economy. Often centered in rural communities, including Nevada County, CA, California’s craft brewers are a major economic force with more than 400 often independently-owned craft breweries operating in the state today.
Along with wine, the Gold Rush ushered in craft beer brewing, observes Sierra FoodWineArt magazine. The region became a beer capital, thanks to the brewing skills of German immigrants, easy access to mountain spring water, rich hops and barley from the Sacramento Valley and later, refrigerated rail cars. Starting in the late 1800s, the Buffalo Brewery — the West’s largest — stood at the site now occupied by the Sacramento Bee.
Likewise, Nevada County’s thirst for beer goes back to the Gold Rush era. “Early front-runners include the Boca Brewery, which reportedly brewed more beer than all the others combined, and the Nevada Brewery — located in the building now known as The Stonehouse,” The Union newspaper reports. “The Grass Valley Brewery first opened on North Auburn Street in 1856, but shut down during Prohibition. It reopened years later as the Washington Tavern — and that name can still be seen from East Main Street, painted on the red brick wall of the Washington Brewery Building.”
Nevada City is joining the “beer revolution,” part of an increasing number of gastro-pubs, tap houses and breweries, according to local writer Pamela Biery. The historic town’s Seven Hills District is home to a local pub called Jernigan’s Grill & Tap House, which serves award-winning craft beers on tap, as well as ol’ Republic Brewery. Ol’ Republic opened its doors in February 2012, and it creates classic European lagers, robust ales and American-style beers. The brewery and taproom welcomes visitors.
“In the heart of Nevada City, cutting-edge brew most notably is on tap at Lefty’s Grill, Matteo’s Public and Cooper’s Ale Works,” writes Biery. “Seven Hills and downtown Nevada City combine to make a great watering hole stop for most anyone looking for the new, original and distinctive in fresh beer on tap.”
The historic downtown also is home to a new brewery called Three Forks Baking & Brewing Co. Three Forks serves wood-fired pizza, craft beer brewed in our seven barrel brewhouse, regional wines, hard cider, artisan breads, baked goods, soup, salad, sandwiches, fresh drinks, loose leaf tea, espresso and coffee.
In historic Grass Valley, 151 Union Square specializes in craft beers on tap. It offers seasonal beers as well as classic favorite micro-brews. Pete’s Pizza & Tap House, also in historic Grass Valley, has 14 craft brews on tap.
Truckee is home to FiftyFifty Brewing Co., a pioneer in the county’s craft brewing scene. “You are always welcome to visit our brewery and restaurant in Truckee for the best selection and freshest product,” according to the brewery’s owners. You’ll also find the brewery and tasting room for Tahoe Mountain Brewing Co. in Truckee.
(Photo credit: ‘ol Republic by Jim Beckett; Three Forks Brewing; FiftyFifty by Mark Loper)
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