Truckee’s FiftyFifty serves up tasty meals with its tasty beers
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
If you go
What: FiftyFifty Brewing Company
Where: 11197 Brockway Road, Truckee
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday through Saturday, Happy Hour 3-5 p.m. Monday through Friday
Service: Charismatic and personable
Good for: Laid-back atmosphere, great patio, sports games, big groups and families
The U.S. is in the midst of dragging itself out of the dark ages of convenient-but-tasteless mass production. Slowly, slowly we are digging our nails into the dusty earth to learn new ways (or rather, the old ways) of being. With their mindful spirits and their love of nature, Californians are presuming their place at the front lines of the conscious revolution.
When you consider the state’s physical enormity (163,695 square miles, including water) and population (nearly 40 million), though, the truth reads differently. Per capita, the Golden State does not have the most number of yoga studios (Alaska does) or community gardens (way to go, North Dakota!) or vegetarian restaurants (sorry, L.A.). The numbers are actually embarrassing.
What California can brag about is a whole lot of craft breweries. Now, the reason we cannot claim all of the aforementioned “mosts” is because outside of the major cities, many of us are remote. Naturally, being out of the hub-bub decreases demand. North Tahoe-Truckee understands this all too well, especially with the added complexities of being tucked up in a paradisiacal food desert. Luckily, vegetarians, gardeners and ski bums alike love their craft beer, and their cumulative reverence for high-quality ingredients and lovingly created products manifests into a huge demand.
Alicia and Andy Barr recognized the demand eight years ago and opened FiftyFifty Brewing Company as a sister to their other local restaurants. In its eight years, FiftyFifty’s large Truckee space has catered to loyal locals, throngs of tourists and innumerable theme parties. FiftyFifty brews on location, serving up a plethora of beers, including the Miso Hoppy golden ale, the California Pale Ale (CAPA) and the Donner Party Porter. But it’s not the catchy names that have earned the respect of locals, as well as international distribution orders, it’s the expert blend of hops, malts, fruits,and barrel aging. It is also the Barrs’ and their brewers’ devotion to evolution.
When the Totality Imperial Stout garnered attention and awards in Europe, Australia and the U.S., FiftyFifty didn’t sit on its laurels. It created the Eclipse Series. Rich and complex with hints of vanilla, coconut, tobacco, chocolate and fruit, Totality becomes Eclipse when it’s aged an additional 180 days in oak bourbon barrels. Eclipse is officially released into the world each December with a big party. Unfortunately, the humans off the hill have to search to find the limited edition beer, but a savvy person may just call ahead to enroll in the Eclipse Futures program.
Another exclusive brew opportunity for the die-hards: 5050 Brewers’ Intent. For a small annual fee, members receive access to small-batch bottled beers, a growler, discounts and swag. Mail orders go out four times a year, but if a member comes in, they enjoy Fifty’s laid back atmosphere. The company of the charismatic bartenders and the broad array of food items might make a person stay awhile.
They say you can’t do nachos wrong, but perhaps “they” need to raise their standards. As a dear friend and past Fifty employee repeats leaning back in his bar chair, “Most nachos, you get not enough stuff and way too many nachos. But Fifty always provides more stuff than nachos, and they’ll always give you more chips.” There are few higher compliments. Get them “huge” with shredded jack and cheddar cheese, black beans, roasted salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Of the all-natural meat selection, the grilled steak and sweet and messy pulled pork contend.
Better yet, share the pulled pork nachos and the Steakhouse Salad with grilled sirloin, mixed greens, gorgonzola, tomatoes, crispy onions and balsamic. After all, it’s all about balance. Another favorite is the creamy, meaty, spicy, sweet Half Moon Bay Burger with jalapenos, cream cheese and wildflower honey. For vegetarians try the Spinach and Mushroom Enchiladas with simple and healthy black beans.
Fifty doesn’t just look ahead to bigger and better brew batches. The Barrs practice sustainability in all of their restaurants, especially because they are as much a part of our community as the mayor herself (or, wait, Alicia is the mayor). The spent grains are donated to a local ranch for livestock feed, the fryer oil is turned into Biodiesel fuel and they have a grant to reduce the amount of waste from the brewing process at their soon-to-be brewhouse in downtown Truckee. FiftyFifty is always looking forward.
Ashley A. Cooper is a freelance writer residing in Truckee. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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