Try Legal Weed

Brewpublic’s California beer adventures continued as we headed home up the Interstate.  The previous day we drove from San Francisco, visiting Rubicon and Sierra Nevada’s brewpubs along the way.  After a good night’s sleep in Redding, California, we hit Weed about 70 miles north, into the picturesque climb of the Siskiyou Mountains.  The pass from Northern California into Oregon can be treacherous, but we were fortunate that weather conditions were calm though foggy.

We rolled into Weed just before noon to stretch our limbs and fuel up.  At noon, the Mt. Shasta Brewery was opening their doors to the public and we were lucky that we made it on their last Sunday of the season.  Barkeep Tonya was a high energy and friendly soul with dyed red hair and bright purple shoes.  She welcomed us into the brewpub portion of the facility.  The building was once the Medo-Bel Creamery and apparently had a large ballroom space upstairs, but it was not open due to not meeting codes that involved having handicap accessibility.  In the wide open pub area bicycles hung form the high ceiling and three deer heads watching over the bar. Tonya poured us the wonderful beer brewed by 26-year-old head brewer Josh Riggs.

Mt. Shasta brew pub
Mt. Shasta brew pub

Lamurian Lager: A light, crisp, creamy copper colored lager with a pleasant florally hopped nose.  I’ve had this one before in bottles and have for some time considered it as one of my favorite NW lagers alongside Hopworks Lager, Lagunitas Czech Pils, and Northcoast’s Scrimshaw Pilsner.  Here on tap it bode just as well, if not better on draft.

Abner Amber: Named for Weed founder Abner Weed, the beer as Tonya put it was one of the “prettiest redheads on the planet.”  Sharp malty notes with a robust yet sessionable presence.  This was a good way to kick off our morning.

Weed Golden: The brewery’s first beer, the golden is a highly drinkable, light quintessential session brew.  With a pale straw body and a fluffy white head, the golden had a mild biscuity and creamy spine that lead to it being gone in a jiffy.

Mt. Shasta Beer sampler
Mt. Shasta beer sampler

IPA: Incredibly floral pale golden IPA with a creamy floral presence.  This particular beer won a gold at the 2008 California State Fair, beating out Bear Republic’s Racer 5 and Lagunitas famed IPA. Indeed it was a super delicious India Pale.  In the future, I hope to spend more time with this beer on draft.

Shastafarian Porter: On tap, this beer poured much lighter than it does from bottles.  Normally a deep opaque brown-black bodied brew, here it was leaning more toward the amber-brown side of the spectrum.  Tonya told us it was lighter than normal, but it was certainly just as robust as the bottled version.  Roasted dark malt notes enchanted the taste buds and demanded our enjoyment.

State of Jefferson Stout: From the “Frankentap” came this wonderful creation.  This particular tap, much like Deschutes’ X Tap, is a revolving pour of creatively unique offerings. In the past a blackberry porter was featured on the Frankentap. This time, from the owner Vaune Dillman‘s orchards came a plethora of apples and pears.  The abundance was attracting bears from the countryside who were scaring the owner’s horses. So, to turn render the situation, the surplus of fruit made its way into this opaquely blackened stout.  Subtle fruit flavors in the nose meshed with a thick, luscious roasted malt-driven big beer.  At about 7.3% ABV, this beer was surely coming home with us in a growler!

We learned more about he history of the brewery from Tonya.  She informed us that Mt. Shasta Brewing began production in 2003 and bottling for distribution the next year.  Apparently, the brewery received an unfathomable amount of notoriety when a government group tried to ban the bottle caps that read “Try Legal Weed.”  The attempt did little more than create an enormous demand for Mt. Shasta’s beer and merchandise.  “It was the best thing that ever happened to this place” said Tonya.  We even bought our friend a tee shirt that read “Weed fought the law and Weed won.”  Har!

Mt. Shasta Brewing bottler
Mt. Shasta Brewing bottler

We spent more time than we probably should have in Weed, but it was mostly due to the inviting and hospitable Tonya.  She was very informative and knowledgeable about the beer she was serving.  She toasted us and a couple from Los Angeles who stopped by on their way to Bend, Oregon.  “The secret to this wonderful beer,” said Tonya “is the water.  We have the best water on the planet.”  It was hard to argue with her after drinking a glass.  Crisp, pure and from the top of the world, or so it seemed. A growler filled with this tap water was also a must, and at a reasonable price (free).

View of Mt. Shasta from I-5 just north of Weed, CA
View of Mt. Shasta from I-5 just north of Weed, CA

Back to the I-5 and northbound, we were not to stop again until we hit Ashland, Oregon.