Although Northern California is best known for its wine production, there are some great breweries out here as well to satisfy any beer aficionado. Now I’m not just talking some home brewin’ favorites, there are some legitimately great beers that come out of this area. The most well-known is probably the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, CA. Beyond that, there are countless lesser-known breweries in the area that deserve a visit. I’m really not sure why I haven’t made a point to visit all of these by now, but I have been slowly chipping away over the last few years. There’s nothing like tasting an entire catalog of beers directly from the source. This weekend, I paid a visit to one of the more notable breweries in NorCal, Lost Coast Brewing Co. in Eureka, CA. Lost Coast is one of the original North Coast beer producers, and arguably one of the finest. The problem is, I’ve never really liked any of their beers. I wanted to like them, because I think they make really good beer, but the problem is none of them seemed to be suited to my tastes. I made a stop in yesterday hoping to find a diamond in the rough – a Lost Coast beer that I could truly love.
They are best known for three beers: Great White, Alleycat Amber, and Downtown Brown. I’m not a fan of white beers, but damnit if I don’t respect Great White. It’s very well made, it’s just not my style. Alleycat Amber is a good beer, but it’s just that: good. While there’s nothing bad about it, to me, it’s always been simply average. I would enjoy an Alleycat if someone handed me one, but I surely wouldn’t seek one out. Lastly, Downtown Brown is a solid contribution, but it falls short of Newcastle. If I’m going to enjoy a brown ale, I’m reaching for a Newcastle, not a Downtown Brown. But, much like the Great White and Alleycat, I’d still enjoy it nonetheless. So, that left about 7-10 beers for me to explore and find one to latch on to. Many of Lost Coast’s beers are meant for someone unlike me. Our 10 beer taster included Lost Coast Wheat, Apricot Wheat, Raspberry Brown, and Tangerine Ale. I was able to immediately cross these off the list of beers I might fall in love with. I will say that the Lost Coast Wheat might have been one of the best wheat beers I’ve ever had, but that’s like seeing a car that’s one of the best Daihatsus you’ve ever seen. The Raspberry Brown was impressive to say the least. It was almost like tasting an ocean wave – one that comes in tasting like raspberry, and recedes back into the sea tasting of roasted brownness. The other two, the Apricot and Tangerine, did not stand out in my eyes, but you still can’t help but appreciate the way they’re made. That left a handful of beers for me to possibly fall in love with.
Let’s start with the best… Easily the standout of the Lost Coast catalog to me is the Indica IPA. There are two ways to my beer heart, a Pale Ale or an IPA. I’d had the Indica before, but this one would be the most important, as I would be determining forever if I would actually declare my love for this beer. Yesterday, I decided to do that. The Indica IPA is officially my favorite of the Lost Coast brews. The Lost Coast Pale Ale was not bad, but it’s tough to live up to other local favorites, such as Sierra Nevada, Red Tail Ale, and Red Seal. The 8Ball Stout is respectable, but it’s no Old No. 38 from North Coast Brewing. In addition to the ten regulars, the bartender brought us samples of the three current seasonal ales offered by Lost Coast. They were the Winterbraun Winter Ale, the Wicked Wit Belgian Ale, and the Fog Cutter Barleywine. The standout here was the Winterbraun. It’s basically described as a “double Downtown Brown.” I did like it better than the Downtown, if nothing else, for the spicier aroma. The Wicked Wit was intriguing to me, although I’m not a fan of Belgian ales. This one fit right in there with many other Lost Coast selections, as although Belgian styles are not my bag per se, but I still appreciated what was put into this beer. I considered it basically a Great White with a little bit of Fat Tire. Now, two wrongs certainly don’t make a right here, but what stood out to me was the coriander. You’ll never see me reach for a Belgian, but if forced to, I would have no problem with a Wicked Wit. The Fog Cutter was also an excellent barleywine, but the last two I’ve had were a Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale and a Deschutes Mirror Mirror. Both left pretty large shoes to fill, so it was going to be tough for this one to measure up. I think it makes a respectable showing, but again, not on the level of the other two aforementioned brews. All in all, the Lost Coast Brewing Company makes many great beers. Unfortunately, there’s just not one for me. I’ve finally designated the Indica IPA as my favorite of their offerings, but still no standouts in my opinion. Having said that, like with any brewpub, I definitely recommend a stop here if you’re ever in Humboldt. Or, if you live in Northern California, make a weekend road trip to Eureka and check out. I definitely give it credit for the atmosphere. However, if you haven’t been to Sierra Nevada or North Coast Brewing, I would plan stops there first.