Here’s to Lake Tahoe beer: Top 3 reasons to drink a beer in 2017
January 7, 2017
If you're anything like me, you could probably use a beer right now. The emotional ragdoll all started back in early November when I started puzzling how our next president's hair works (still haven't figured it out). Then came the excitement of the holidays and the unavoidable sheer ecstasy/crushing disappointment of stealing the best gift/having the best gift stolen from me at the annual office Christmas party.
Finally, the frenzy of New Year's Eve reached a crescendo with the traditional donning of a panda costume and pilgrimage to the Mecca known as SnowGlobe, or, as I like to celebrate, the traditional donning of earplugs and going to sleep at 9 p.m.
So, now that the embers of 2016 are dying, it's time for that beer — and 2017 looks to be the best year ever to drink a beer in our city by the lake. Here are my top three reasons why.
1. Breweries Within Walking Distance
Right now you and I are living in an unprecedented time in the history of beer in and around our fine city. If things go as planned, 2017 will see at least three new breweries open in South Tahoe to give us a total of at least seven places where the magic of fermentation occurs at the professional level.
We will have options near the casinos with the already established Stateline Brewery and Desolation Brewing planned to open in Basecamp Hotel. The Bijou area is flanked by The Brewery and Sidellis Brewery, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary. Cold Water is holding it down at Midtown, and the Y will finally catch up with two brand-new breweries in South Lake Brewing and Lake Tahoe AleWorX.
Regionally, we are also experiencing exciting new projects with places like Alibi Ale Works in Incline Village and a whole crop of new and established breweries in the Reno area. Take a moment to reflect on it all. The planning and building of a brewery is a lengthy process that in some cases takes years. These pioneers deserve our praise and patronage, so get out there and get to know your local neighborhood brewery.
2. Variety and Innovation
The Beer Judge Certification Program (www.bjcp.org) identifies over 100 different styles and sub-styles for amateur and professional brewing competitions held all over the United States. One of these styles is called "experimental beer," which means that brewers continue to push the limits of how we define beer.
The act of brewing beer now incorporates not only innovative ingredients, but also creative concepts and artistry. Modern brewers are using new hop varietals, alternative grains, and yeast and bacteria strains that were not available less than a decade ago. Conceptually, beer has pushed the limits as well. What if you could drink a beer that was made with some of the season's first snowfall, "hopped" with pine or fir and fermented with yeast collected from the forest?
I'd try it, and I'd also be willing to bet that our local breweries are already working on some really creative and unique beers for us. One of the greatest qualities of a small local brewery is that a one-off brew showcasing a rare beer style or incorporating an interesting ingredient is not only feasible, but actually quite common.
So, whether you are looking for a cutting edge experimental example of an American Wild Ale, a huge barrel-aged stout or an example of a 500-year-old nearly forgotten style, 2017 might be your year!
3. The Culture of Craft
Certain industries tend to attract a particular type of person, and although each individual doesn't usually match up perfectly to the stereotype, it's worth noting that there are some high-quality women and men in craft brewing. There is a culture of inclusion, education, sharing and collaboration within the craft brewing industry that is matched by few other fields of business.
A local example of this in action is in Lake Tahoe AleWorX and Alibi Ale Works. The gentlemen up north at Alibi will be brewing beer for AleWorX while the guys down south get their facility up and running. Cooperation like that can only be good for a community where it sometimes seems like everybody is trying to secure their own piece of the pie rather than making sure that there is enough for everyone.
Six years ago this month, the Discovery Channel released a documentary which you can still watch online called "How Beer Saved the World." It describes the huge positive impact that beer has had on many societies throughout history. I don't know if beer can save the world today, but my hope is that it can at least make it a better place. Cheers to beer in 2017!
Nathan Bergner is a South Lake Tahoe resident, local business owner and fan of beer.