The Beer Highway in Northern California, Part III

Note: This is an archive edition, chosen by The Professor to highlight some of the best from PGA. Also… Lost Coast pictures courtesy yelp.com. Beer and first logo courtesy Jennifer Moline and feedgrids.com. See article posted after this.

Written by Tom Becham for Professor Goodales

The last leg of the trip my wife and I took to NorCal brings us to Humboldt County.  Now, many beer afficionados who read this may be critical that we did not stop at some of the places along our route.  After all, well within our reach were brewers like Marin, Lagunitas, Russian River, Mendocino, North Coast and even Mad River. Those are all fine brewers to be sure, but this trip was about family so we had to forego all those stops.

 
When we finally reached our destination of Eureka, we made good our family obligations.  We even managed to squeeze in a quick lunch and beer sampling at Lost Coast Brewing.
 


Lost Coast in an interesting place, as is evident just upon entering their building. (Hint: when the AAA Guide mentions this place and says, “Beware of the spider that lowers from the ceiling,” you know the experience will be unique.)  The building is an old Mason’s Hall, and quite rustic, as befits a building from the logging era.  The decor is equally distinctive, as it looks like Ralph Steadman and a Mardi Gras float designer got together, dropped some acid, and then decorated the place in a Halloween theme.
 
The disorientation from the decor of Lost Coast is only momentary, and actually acquires some charm after only a few minutes.  The food at Lost Coast seems fairly typical of brew pubs, but it is hearty, well-prepared and sources local ingredients as much as possible.  The beef dip and quesadillas are particularly nice. A lot of local seafood also makes an appearance on the menu. The staff is also be good about recommending food and beer pairings and are much more knowledgeable about such things than you would expect in this area of the state.

 
Now, to the beer.  At Lost Coast, the sampler flights are ten to an order!  So, I’ll just make some quick comments about each of the beers sampled. All are available in bottles from a good beer retailer unless otherwise noted.
 

Lost Coast Wheat – Definitely an American wheat beer, not one using a German hefe yeast.  Very grainy tasting with a dry finish.  Reminiscent of Sierra Nevada’s wheat ale. Not available outside the brewpub.
 
Pale Ale – Of the more highly-hopped American variety, but still well-balanced.  Not exciting, but nice and sessionable.  Available in bottled form as Windshield Owl Pale Ale, with profits going to the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center.
 
Alleycat Amber – A well-balanced amber, with a strong malt backbone, and aromatics from the ubiquitous Cascade hops.
 
Downtown Brown- Another well-balanced quaffer.  Not distinctive is a very crowded field, but a well made effort nonetheless.
 
Apricot Wheat – One of Lost Coast’s more unique offerings, this uses real apricot.  Wonderful aroma which carries through on the palate.  Great thirst quencher and should be liked even by those who don’t care for fruit beers.  Emphasizes the sourness of apricot more than the sweet.  Unfortunately only available at the brewpub.
 
Raspberry Brown – Not Lost Coast’s best effort.  The raspberry gets a bit lost in the malty flavor of the brown ale, and the mouthfeel is a bit muddy and seems to stick to the teeth and tongue. 
 
8 Ball Stout – Subtle, like most of Lost Coast’s other brews, but one of the best Oatmeal Stouts made in America.  Chocolate, coffee, smoke and hops all compete for space on the nose and palate, and meld seamlessly.  Silky smooth mouthfeel from the oats, this one is only 6.2% ABV, but drinks like it’s even less.  Be careful! 
 
Great White- Lost Coast’s Belgian Witbier.  Like most of this style, the citrus and coriander come through, and the unfiltered wheat makes the beer seem more filling than it really is.  This one has a bit of a crackle at the end, which Lost Coast attributes to its “secret ingredient”  Other sources indicate this ingredient is lemongrass.  Delicious, unique, fortunately widely available bottled and in many West Coast bars.
 
Indica IPA – This IPA is neither as alcoholic nor as bitter as many domestically produced version.  It seems a rather faithful copy of an English IPA.  Despite not being an IPA fan, I appreciated this one.  It would make a wonderful pairing with curry, Mexican food or any other spicy cuisine.
 
Tangerine Wheat – This one only uses tangerine extract, but is nonetheless still full of strong aromas and tastes of tangerine.  Another wonderful thirst-quencher, not too sweet.  In fact it has short, bitter snap on the finish.  Nice. 
 
Lost Coast is a brewer that knows its business.  So give them your business.

 

Tom Becham lives in California, he’s a homebrewer and reviews beer, brewpubs, breweries and beer events for professorgoodales.net.