Drink up: 5 can’t-miss beers on tap around Lake Tahoe

Claire McArthur
Tahoe Daily Tribune
Inspired by a column in the newly revitalized Mountain Gazette, the Jaded Local is a highly drinkable American Lager produced by Alibi Ale Works. (Provided by Alibi Ale Works)

As the adage goes, life is too short to drink crappy beer. And in Tahoe, where the craft beer scene has exploded with breweries cranking out quality, creative beers, there’s absolutely no excuse.

From South Lake Tahoe to Truckee, Tahoe Magazine searched out the best beers on tap this summer that pair well with lazy days lounging at the brewery or celebratory sips at the summit. Cheers!

The Good Wolf / Needle & Resin

The Good Wolf in Truckee is well-known for their forest beer series, which “captures the terroir of the Tahoe National Forest by utilizing foraged ingredients, locally produced craft malts, and flavors inspired by the forest,” explains owner Matt Petyo.

Needle & Resin, a Schwarzbier (or black lager) made with foraged pine tips, is part of the line-up that captures a taste of the Sierra Nevada.

“We used two different types of pine tips in crafting this beer; a fir tip that tastes more lemony and citrusy, and ponderosa tips that have a deeper, resiny flavor,” says Petyo. “What we love about Needle & Resin is how subtle the pine flavors are; they don’t express themselves on the front palate, instead lingering after each drink creating a retronasal olfactory experience.”

The Good Wolf used top-shelf roasted malts and lagered the beer for a month, resulting in a smooth, silky and flavorful beer.

Bear Belly Brewing / Mountain Mango Wheat

At the Kings Beach nanobrewery Bear Belly Brewing, the Mountain Mango Wheat is a summertime favorite.

“It’s a version of my traditional German Hefeweizen (German malts, hops, yeast and Kings Beach water) with a little bit of mango puree added during the brewing process and a little more during fermentation,” explains owner Adam Latham. “It’s light and easy drinking with some banana and clove notes provided by the yeast as well as mango — obvious but subtle and not overpowering.”

Bear Belly Brewing opened just a month before the pandemic hit, and after a several month closure, was able to reopen its taproom to continue supplying Kings Beach with its small-batch beer. This summer, Latham — currently a one-man operation — hopes to expand with more fermentation tanks.

“Being such a small-batch operation has advantages and disadvantages,” says Latham. “The main disadvantage is that I have to work very hard to keep up with demand. The advantage is that it keeps things turning over very quickly. This keeps things very fresh! With five handles, you can guarantee that each week will always have something different on draft.”

Sidellis Lake Tahoe Brewery and Restaurant / Clockwork White Ale

Clockwork White Ale has been a staple at Sidellis Lake Tahoe for a long time — and for good reason. It’s light, refreshing and an easy-drinking beer.

“This Belgian style wheat beer is brewed with coriander and sweet orange peel, and is perfect for a summer afternoon in our beer garden with a hot pretzel and beer cheese,” says owner Chris Sidell. “And if you’re lucky, we may even have our mango habanero version, Mangonero White, on tap. Sweet up front and spicy on the finish, this is one of the most interesting beers we make, and pairs perfectly with our spicy pulled pork sandwich.”

Pro tip: At Sidellis’ barrel aged takeover nights, you can order pours or flights of their Berliner Weisse, Saison and more, aged in everything from bourbon to red wine barrels. It’s a beer nut’s dream — and they only happen a few times a year — so keep tabs on social media for event announcements.

South Lake Brewing Co. / Marlette Sunrise Blood Orange Blonde

South Lake Brewing Co. is the kind of brewery where you can comfortably settle in for a few hours after an afternoon of mountain biking or hiking. With ample outdoor seating, dogs galore, and often live music, it’s the perfect spot to sip on a pint of the Marlette Sunrise Blood Orange Blonde (and grab some cans to take home, too).

“Our Marlette Sunrise is a take on our original blonde ale that gained an instant following. We brewed it with honey malt and flaked wheat for a hint of sweet malt complexity and then added a hint of blood orange purée to the conditioning beer,” says co-founder and head of brewing operations, Chris Smith. “The result is a tasty brew that has nuanced fruit notes and a clean and refreshing finish, perfect for summertime in Lake Tahoe. It pairs well with a light summer salad with grilled peaches or barbecue chicken.”

The Marlette Sunrise Blood Orange Blonde from South Lake Brewing Co. pairs well with a dip in the lake. (Provided by South Lake Brewing Co.)

Alibi Ale Works / Jaded Local

With two public houses and a taproom in Truckee and Incline Village, Alibi Ale Works has been cranking out award-winning beer for over six years.

This summer, head to one of their locations to try out the newly released Jaded Local, a crushable American lager made in collaboration with the Mountain Gazette, a revival of the magazine originally founded in 1966 as the Skiers’ Gazette. In 2020, the Mountain Gazette returned as a bi-annual coffee table book-meets-magazine.

“The ‘Jaded Local’ was a column written in Powder Magazine for several years that vanished when the magazine went out of business. Now, the column will be featured in the Mountain Gazette, and we are making a beer with the same namesake,” explains Joe Steinfelds, head brewer at Alibi. “Hans Ludwig, the ‘Jaded Local’ writer, told us that he likes ‘normal beer with no bullshit.’ So we decided we would make a crisp, light American lager with only 4.2% ABV. I am very excited about this beer because you can drink like a thousand of them and still do stuff.”

If the Jaded Local isn’t the answer to your post-hike thirst, then we don’t know what is.

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