Arcata, Crescent City, Ashland, Shasta—when you think of a solid “beer vacation,” you might not think of these sleepy towns in the north of CA (south of OR). But what do you think these people are drinking ? Wine? 🤢 Well, probably—especially in the Rogue River Valley. But do you expect me to drink wine? No. So I drank the beer I could find.
We stopped in Redding for lunch on our way to Arcata. Mosaic Restaurant spoke to us by way of Instagram photos, plus something mentioned a good taplist. So we show up at this swanky hotel restaurant (me wearing a flannel and a fannypack 💁) and ate some pretty good food. I had Chico’s Secret Trail Brewing’s Hydraulic Oats OPA which had a big fresh wet hop flavor, leaned more West Coast style, and honestly didn’t have the soft mouthfeel I look for with oaty beers. Drinkable nevertheless.
The moment we got to Arcata, we rushed for Dead Reckoning Tavern: literally the reason we decided to head northwest on our trip (plus Humboldt Regeneration which unfortunately was closed for renovations). This place is downright amazing. Most beer bars don’t live up to a place like Dead Reckoning. The taplist is meticulously curated by a real craft beer lover (like, all the beers), plus there’s an Arcade inside AND a record store. They also opened a bottle shop next door two years ago because Theo’s (the owner—you’ll find him wearing long red braids and a utility kilt) handcrafted beer cellar was getting depleted by thirsty beer fiends. The people want good beer. And I drank a whole lot of it while there. 😂 🍻 😬
Another notable spot in Arcata is Redwood Curtain Brewery, where I had an IPA flight featuring their Apocalotus IPA that uses the newly released Lotus hop. I got a lot of licorice from Lotus. However my favorite IPA was their Humboldt Trails IPA that was beautifully well-balanced.
Oh, what do I say about Crescent City’s beer scene? Well, in a sea of salty dogs, Port O’ Pints has made a name for itself. We all absolutely loved their pre-prohibition cream ale (so crisp with a delicious sweet corny malt character). They also let us try their festbier and I believe an amber lager that were freaking clean as a whistle. Amazingly clean traditional beer styles was not what I expected from a place in crusty ol’ Crescent City that looks a little bit like a pawn shop from the outside (respectfully). 🙏
The other brewery in Crescent City, Seaquake, couldn’t be more different from the previous. Its focus seems to be a big space for families and friends to join, play games, watch sports, eat pub food, and drink some trendy hop-forward beers. They’re canning 9.5% DIPAs in tall boys for god’s sake you’d think we were in a lawless land. I’m okay with it though. Some pretty dern good hoppy beers come out of this brewery.
Next stop, Ashland, OR. First of all, what a cute stinkin’ town! We ate a lot of food at Standing Stone Brewery. Five stars for food in my book. The beer was minimal and drinkable but we headed to Growler Guys for a more innovation selection. Of course we went to Caldera Brewing, where the setting was shiny and purple and groovy with a mountain view. They have what seems like a hundred beers on tap, so I stuck with an IPA flight and the bae went with a kettle sour flight. IPAs were all-around pretty bitter and malt-forward (no hazies for this addict), but they are doing some neatly balanced stuff with fruit in a lot of their beers.
Next, back to CA. We have some family/friend ties in Weed so decided to head to Mt Shasta Brewing. Not much to say here besides very nice people and edible pizza, but I think next time I’ll stop at Siskiyou Brews in McCloud instead. On our way out we stopped at Clearwater Café in McCloud which turned out to be a super cute spot. Great coffee drinks and food, a nicely curated space right next to an outdoors store, plus their bottle/can list included multiples from Strike Brewing. Who woulda thought?
Welp, I’m back home in Truckee now, getting into routine and drinking the rest of our Amarillo Pale Ale keg our dog/house sitters couldn’t seem to finish! I come from a highly-populated metropolitan area (the Bay Area), and have slowly been phasing into less populated areas. Visiting towns so “far from anywhere” is a welcome reminder that the world doesn’t revolve around cities (and California). People are putting along, sustaining themselves, making art, living slowly, and being content in remote areas all around the world. And they seem to always end up making beer, too.