Most migrate to the mountains each winter for skiing, boarding, or general frolicking in the snow. These productive activities and the jolliness that they induce go far to justify the chain checks, snow shoveling, and ice-scraping that go along with them. During our visit to Tahoe, we knocked the “ski” off of “Apres-ski” and got straight to the drinking. Instead of standing in lift-lines with frigid strangers, Hooch & Hops gathered friends and parked ourselves at Truckee, California’s esteemed brewery, Fifty Fifty Brewing Company.
With the snow aggressively working to bury our Ford Explorer outdoors, we tucked ourselves in to the Tahoe bar for a sampling of Fifty Fifty’s best.
Our friendly bartender who goes by the name “Shaggy” perfectly played his role of the ski-bum bar man. Yeah, he may have driven a 74’ Bronco for a few years and has the “just out of bed” look down pat, but why play into the clichés? Despite the questionable alias, The Shag was extremely helpful and happy to fortify us with information and brew. We tried the whole range of Fifty’s offerings, from the Foggy Goggles Belgian White to their aptly-named Eclipse Barrel Aged Stout. Hailed by Draft Magazine as one of the Top Beers in the World, Eclipse is the diamond of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. This “blot out the sun” beer is aged in liquor barrels to impose a bit of additional flavor and warming heat appropriate for the snowy environs which it calls home. Sets aged in Four Roses or Evan Williams Bourbon, Heaven Hill Rye Whisky, and Christian Brothers Brandy barrels are some of the most highly coveted and least available brews in the country. Each bottle is hand numbered and dipped in colored wax to designate the barrel of origin. If you see this bottled poetry on shelves, remove it promptly. If you want to trade us for a bottle or two, Hooch & Hops is on the market for angel investors.
All tolled, A happy hour jaunt “right around the corner” from our Tahoe cabin turned into a 4 hour test of our SUV’s 4 wheel drive capabilities and our gang’s patience. A chain checkpoint materialized a stone’s throw away from our snow bungalow, effectively halting traffic for the majority of the 6 miles back from Fifty Fifty. Without the saving grace of an IPhone’s YouTube capabilities, this would have quickly turned into a rehash of the Donner Party’s cannibalistic frenzy. Instead, our resident Ad Exec dropped a few web gems on us. In the end, the 4 hour tour was well worth the time sacrificed making snow angels and sipping hot toddies in front of the fire. Coors can continue to tap the Rockies, our pint glass will remain underneath Tahoe’s spigot. Next time you head to the Sierras, consider forgoing the $8 Coors Light on the mountain for a lights-out pint of Fifty Fifty’s Eclipse.