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Reno and Satelitte Navigation

April, 1997

By Bobby Bush

Last week found our beer barons skiing in Squaw Valley and brewpubbing in Truckee, Tahoe and Reno. We pick up where we left off, departing the casino-centered Brew Brothers Brewing Company and looking for more in Reno and beyond.

With time to kill before our San Fran-bound United Air Shuttle (sorry, lemonade and water only), we sought out Copper Summit Brewing Company. Opened less than four months previous, in September '96, this eclectic Reno restaurant-cum-brewpub boasted nine beers, of which, fortunately, only four were available. The Amber was overcarbonated and golden brown, yet possessed decent malt-hops balance. Perpendicular Porter, dark brown, effervescent and uncharacteristically tangy, disappointed. Already bloated from excess CO2, we passed on the Winter Wheat and Honey Peach, although the off-tap Slide Mountain Stout and Elevation Ale sounded intriguing.

With four gleaming fermenters, copper-clad tanks positioned in streetside windows and grain elevators adorning two opposing outside walls, Copper Summit is at best a well-appointed rookie brewpub, badly in need of experience and fine tuning. Taking on nine brews is probably six too many for such a young venture. We hope to check back during next year's highly anticipated ski jaunt.

Still an hour to kill before the meter would expire on our rental vehicle, we tracked down Great Basin Brewing Company. This Sparks, Nevada brewpub has been open for only three years and already boasts three GABF awards. Their Wild Horse Ale (1994 bronze medal) was rich, complex in the German Alt style. The light, jalepeno-kissed Cerveza Chilebeso (1994 gold) was surprisingly tasty, spicy without burning. (Off-tap for this visit, an Alt Bier struck bronze in '95). We also enjoyed the sleek, hoppy Ichthyosaur IPA ("Gimme an Icky") and seasonals Wheeler Peak Wheat and Black Rock Bitter, while Jackpot Porter, billed as nutty, rich and aromatic, was tempting.

This homey eatery, featuring burgers, sausage and fish & chips, is nothing more than a local watering hole- inviting and friendly with a beer for all seasons, and the medals to prove it.

Made the plane with seconds flat (actually we sat for two hours- two valuable beer drinking hours -awaiting the arrival of our designated plane) and settled in for our San Francisco (non-beer related) seminar. Now this Hertz rental car had an unusual feature- a satellite-tracking positioner that not only followed the car's progress along a small video screen but could be programmed to navigate to any chosen spot. A brewpub tracker's dream if there ever was one.

Following a plant visit in the Easy Bay, we set our computerized geo-positioning navigator and headed further eastward to Pleasanton Main Street Brewery, obviously on Main Street in the quaint town of Pleasanton, CA. Cold woodstove along one wall, the large blue-carpeted room set mid-afternoon quiet as we addled up to the bar. Brewer Matte Billings greeted us with a pleasant (sorry) Pleasanton Pale Ale (5.6% alcohol and delicious) and the cloudy, coffee-aroma Zone 7 Porter (4.6%). The Winter Ale sported a hefty 8.0% kick, while the pleasing Ironhorse IPA weighed in at 7.1% with plenty of hops punch. The Red Leaf, an amber at 8.0%, was missing in action. For a brewpub opened only since February '96, Billings and crew are doing a super job.

Situated in an old historical building which originally housed a cheese factory, Pleasanton Main Street Brewery features weekend jazz, electronic darts, bigscreen television and a small brewing area stage right. House beers were accompanied by a nice selection of mostly California brews, including Drake's Gold (from Lind Brewing, a San Leandro, CA micro), Snowshoe Apricot (an Arnold, CA micro) and Three Finger Dopplebock from Saxer Brewing of Portland, OR. Though all alone at the helm, Billings was helpful and generous with free samples and beer talk. Stop by for a pleasant experience.

And try the beer-navigator, available wherever fine cars are rented. Tell the folks at Hertz who sent ya.

This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.

Bobby Bush

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