By D.J. Paul
Sitting at over a mile high, Truckee, California exemplifies the typical Western Mountain town, one that offers an immense amount of options for the outdoor minded during any season of the year. And when you’re done in taking advantage of the outdoors there’s one great brewpub to enjoy your efforts from the day. Okay, so this trip was to reward my efforts from traveling here for work but they were rewarding nonetheless.
Upon entering FiftyFifty Brewing Co. one thing that you notice is how the bar area melts into the restaurant area. Its mainly one large bar that offers some very nice ambiance for both the diner and the drinker or for my visit tonight, both! They offer up two flat screens that allowed me to watch Cliff Lee pitch a complete game to send the Texas Rangers to their first ever postseason series victory all the while enjoying Todd Ashman’s award winning brews. Also, this is the area in which they age their choice beers in wooden barrels. I counted up 22 of them sitting their patiently.
Being offered on tap this evening were their Year Round Beers of Base Camp Golden Ale, Manifesto Pale Ale, Rockslide IPA, and Donner Party Porter. And their seasonals consisted of Lil’ Foot IPA and Totality Imperial Stout on draft and Concentrated Evil in the 22 ounce bottle. Concentrated Evil is the collaborative beer that Todd Ashman brews with several other breweries including Eugene, Oregon’s Oakshire Brewing.
Once I arrived and perused the beer menu I decided upon a pint of the Lil’ Foot IPA. This IPA checks in at 80 IBU’s and 7.5% ABV. Their literature states it to be a “Great IPA” and I would have to agree. Nothing way too experimental here but what it does provide is being an overall solid American style IPA. Had a noticeable piney aroma from the Centennial and Amarillo hops being used while offering a nice smooth, drinkable IPA. Definitely is no huge hop bomb but because of it makes it so enjoyable.
While enjoying my Lil’ Foot IPA I placed a food order for their Pulled Pork Sandwich and their Soup of the Day, which happened to be a tasty Vegetable Broth soup stocked full with potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, onions and tomatoes all in a seasoned warming broth. The sandwich was solid as well; featuring slow roasted pulled pork topped with crispy onions, two sliced tomatoes, coleslaw and a slice of cheddar cheese. A bit messy but the sweetness to the barbecue sauce made it oh so special.
For my next couple of beers I decided to knock them down to 8 oz. half-pints. And for my second beer I chose FiftyFifty’s Rockslide IPA. They list this as a “West Coast IPA” and I would have to agree. Not as intense of hops as Green Flash IPA but very drinkable. The Rockslide IPA contains 70 IBU’s and is 6.7% ABV. Upon first notice, the aroma is not as intense as the Lil’ Foot IPA but it offers a more noticeable grapefruit hoppiness on the tongue and stronger overall hoppiness on the mouth feel.
I then went on to order another one of their flagship’s, Donner Party Porter. This is no ordinary porter. This porter sits at 30 IBU’s and 6.7% ABV. Donner Party pours to a nice brown frothy head on top of its deep, dark mahogany appearance. The chocolate notes are quite evident from the first sip. As this porter warms up a dried fruit, maybe figs come forth. This beer is as close as you can get to barrel aging it without doing that extra timely step. It’s definitely a very complex porter compared to others that I have sampled over the years.
And now comes my desert beer, Totality Imperial Stout. Wow, this beer packs a nice punch with 75 IBU’s and at a whopping 9.5% ABV. I had to be careful with this one! This is a beer that Todd has won back-to-back Bronze Medals at the GABF. My taste buds can agree with this. After I let my snifter glass of Totality warm up a bit the very dark black appearance offered up a decent amount of hop aroma. The dark roasted barley offered up a nice coffee aroma and taste, which one would expect from Imperial Stout. Totality also happens to be the base beer for Todd’s highly coveted “Eclipse” that is aged for months in Bourbon Barrels. Here’s to hoping that some of these barrels in the restaurant contain some Totality.
One thing FiftyFifty does compared to a lot of other brewpubs is how they go about pricing their pints. Their pints are variable priced from what I guess is based on the raw ingredient costs. Their pints will vary from $4.50 for a pint of Base Camp Golden Ale to $6.95 for their Totality Imperial Stout.
If you find yourself on I-80 in California towards the Nevada border I definitely recommend a stop in Truckee and a visit to FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
FiftyFifty Brewing will be pouring their Totality Imperial Stout at Brewpublic’s KillerBeerFest at Bailey’s Taproom on Saturday, October 23rd. Please come out and join us for some of Northern California’s finest beer starting at 4PM.
Mountain Peoples Distributing‘s Oregon Manager Tim Ensign informed us recently that FiftyFifty’s highly sought after Eclipse Barrel-aged Imperial Stout will soon be making an appearance in the Beaver State in limited quantities. These include three different barrel agings from 2010. Ensign says ” These include:
Evan Williams 10-13 year old Single Barrel Bourbon (spent 180 days in the barrel).
Heaven Hill(Rittenhouse Rye; spent 250 days in the barrel)
4 Roses 10 year old Single Barrel Bourbon.
Ensign says that Mountain Peoples distributing will have 10-15 cases of each of the above available in Oregon.
Check out the links below/reviews of the previous vintage:
Quote from Todd Ashman Brewmaster
“The 2008 Eclipse has collectors in a tizzy. After we announced the Eclipse prerelease party folks have been calling us, emailing us asking for a bottle of the 2008 Eclipse and offering a $100 PER BOTTLE. Yes, this is pure beer geekdom at its best and driven by the beer rating websites but it is really, really good beer.
Humbling to say the least… Direct potential buyers to RateBeer.com and BeerAdvocate.com. Eclipse was named by Draft Magazine as one of the Top 25 beers in the world in 2009. Eclipse is in the 1001 beers to try before you die book published this year as well… I’m recognized in the industry as one of the pioneers of Bourbon Barrel aged beers and am acknowledged as such in recent Draft Magazine article http://draftmag.com/magazine/articles/169 about the ‘The Barrel Guy’ Tom Griffin I’m cited as Tom’s inspiration to get into the business of selling Bourbon barrels to brewers.” from BeerAdvocate.