Quick Guide to Craft Beer in Truckee, CA
My Beer Town and Me
Hello world. You don’t know me, but I’m the Truckee beer nerd around here. Okay, Reno, don’t scoff. Per capita, Truckee has turned into a neat little beer town. No, no, we can’t yet flaunt award-winning breweries popping up like wildflowers each spring. But we’ve had a few. So let’s have a few together.
Grab ‘n’ Go Beers
Winter’s thawing out and you’ve decided to take a drive up the mountain to recreate. Of course, you need beers for your beach trip, picnic, hike—whatever. But where do you find the best beer retailers? I got you: Zander’s Spirits Etc. and New Moon Natural Foods. These two stores are bound to have the freshest beer and best selection in Truckee.
At Zander’s, owner Tina Zander-Auldridge has curated an awesome cold case. She spends “up to 3 hours a day” researching new beers, sending emails, and making phone calls—“dealing with politics to try and get things that are unusual or allocated and hard to find.” That’s my kind of lady. You’ll find anything from the newest Moonraker cans to traditional Trappist bottles like Orval. Beware of the chocolate/sweets section there—it’ll be staring at you when you checkout at the register.
On the west side of Truckee, New Moon is for the single ladies; you can get singles there! Make your own 4- or 6-pack for a discount from a selection thoughtfully handcrafted by their purchaser, Kevin Kremler. Again, you’re going to want to check out the rest of the store, especially the cheese fridge. Mmm, cheese.
Hungry Squad Outing
Co-owner of Alibi Ale Works Kevin Drake told me “we want to be the Third Place,” meaning, after home and work, the pub is your third-most frequented location (how did he know?!). But honestly, if you’re visiting Truckee, Alibi needs to be your first place—especially if you’re toting babies around. Get your entourage over to the Truckee Public House stat. There, you’ll find 22 of their own beers on tap (no, it’s not “too many options”), plus wine, cider, nitro coffee, kombucha, and craft sodas. The menu rotates seasonally but expect various flavors of scrumptious nachos (pizza nachos for the kids!) that won’t make you feel like a lard ball after smashing. One of my many favorite things about Alibi Truckee is that they’re open every day of the week starting at noon. Sometimes you need a lunch beer! And the open floor plan allows plenty of space for cartwheels.
FiftyFifty Brewing is another family-friendly restaurant with an array of choices. Booth or bar? Inside or outside? Beer or cocktail? Barrel-aged or lagered? Apps or a full meal? Please stop asking questions and take my money already. In all seriousness, when FiftyFifty originated, they “rooted in the notion of balance”—a theme that becomes apparent when you visit their brewery.
If it’s date night or you’re simply looking for a more refined vibe, Truckee Philosophy is your spot. Philosophy offers fresh and organic artisanal-style food plus high-end craft beer options and even multiple wines on tap. Owner Hayden Pruitt and General Manager Libby Sullivan have designed an ambiance that whispers leather-bound books and mahogany armchairs—pinkies up while sipping a barrel-aged fruited sour and head-bobbing to live acoustic music. Philosophy proudly supplies mostly local breweries on their fourteen taps—from Truckee, Auburn, Reno, Nevada City, etc.
Just down the street in the heart of downtown Truckee, Old Town Tap offers cheeseboards, charcuteries, artisanal pizzas, cocktails, and—oh yeah, sixteen beer taps (plus wine). The rotation here ranges, but you’ll typically find California or Nevada beers on tap.
If Your Child Is a Dog / You Need Vitamin D
Like FiftyFifty, Tahoe Mountain Brewing is one of the original gangsters of the Truckee beer scene. They put out unique beers such as the sour pineapple porter; TMB has a variety of fruited sour and/or barrel-aged options. Bring a pocket burrito, play some pool, sit outside with your dog—this is the chillest Truckee beer experience you’ll have.
Mellow Fellow in downtown Truckee hands down provides the best outdoor space for beer drinking (unless you count the Truckee River Winery with their couple of local beer taps!). If your priority is to be seen soaking up some rays with dogs and pals, do it here.
Friends on a Powder Day
Truckee Brewing Company is an especially vibing spot during a storm since their taproom is only indoors with tons of greenery and window space. Plus, their big TV usually plays action sports which perpetuates the stoke level after a rad day. While TBC has a small food menu (savory baked goods from Sierra Bakehouse next door), its beer menu is ever-expanding since their opening in 2018, with a focus on crisp, hoppy styles.
I don’t know about you, but when I go to a new city, my first question always is, “Where can I find the good beer?” Cities like Reno come equipped with passionate people creating resources like The Craft Map (yay, Drew!). Smaller cities may require you to go on a days-long scavenger hunt before you stumble upon the beer cellar of a kilt-wearing bar owner (a story for another day). In Truckee, I’ve done the hard work for you. Such hard work. You owe me a beer.