Reno and Satelitte Navigation
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
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