I have always found the rugged beauty of the northern California coast both peaceful and awe-inspiring. Once a year I have a job in Manchester, just south of Fort Bragg, CA. Fort Bragg is home to North Coast Brewing Company, which has some absolutely wonderful brews. So of course it is imperative that I stop by for dinner and beer. NCB opened in 1988 and is a pioneer in the craft brewing industry. Brewmaster, Mark Ruedrich, has developed a reputation for quality and has won more than 70 awards in both national and international competitions. NCB resurrected the old Acme label with a heritage dating to the 1860’s. These exceptional beers can be found in 47 states and are exported to both Europe and the Pacific Rim. Let us move on to the beers.
Nineteenth century sailors popularized these delicate and intricate engravings. Scrimshaw is a light clean fresh tasting pilsner brewed in the European tradition. Utilizing Munich malt along with the noble hops Hallertauer and Tettnag results in a subtle hop aroma and malt character, a clean palate and a crisp dry finish. This is an excellent example of a Pilsner.
ABV 4.4% , 22 IBU’s
Acme California Pale Ale
A classic pale ale, with a low hop and medium malt aroma. Acme pale ale is brewed with Yakiama Valley hops with English specialty malts for character. It has a medium mouthfeel that is clean, fresh tasting and pleasantly malty. Light amber in color, this is a lightly hopped lower ABV session pale ale, very quaffable and enjoyable.
ABV 5% 21 IBU’s
Acme California IPA
Wonderful up front hop aroma with little if any malt. This medium bodied IPA is dry hopped with over a pound of whole hops per barrel, which adds a delightful hop flavor and aroma. This IPA is not overly bitter or astringent but has a nice dry finish and is eminently drinkable.
ABV 6.5% 55 IBU’s
Red Seal Amber Ale
If I can choose between cask-conditioned ales and CO2 ales I will always go with the cask offerings. Since NCB was offering Red Seal on cask, how could I pass it up? I have found that cask ales are generally smoother than most regular Ambers or IPA’s. Red Seal has an aroma that is a pleasing balance of hops and malt with hops moderately dominant. Cooper-red in color, full bodied, smooth and generously hopped for a long, spicy finish. Not overly bitter and no lingering bitterness. Red Seal would pair well with grilled meats and rich sauces. Try it. I’m sure you will find it enjoyable.
ABV 5.5% 42 IBU’s
Old Rasputin Imperial Stout
Rich complex aroma with notes of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, and hops. Color is pretty much black with a thick long lasting head. Rich and robust, a fullbodied mouthfeel with a pleasing alcohol warmth. Medium malt sweetness with chocolate and caramel overtones. A moderate bitterness from the hops and roasted grains. A rich and complex brew with an agreeable warming finish. A wonderful example of an Imperial Stout.
ABV 9% 75 IBU’s
PranQster Belgian Style Golden Ale
Complex aroma with strong fruity esters, moderate spiciness, and low hop and alcohol notes. Esters reminiscent of light fruits, pears and oranges. A light malt character, with moderate spicy, peppery phenols. Light to medium bodied, smooth with a full fruity flavor and a clean finish. This is what a Belgian Golden should be.
ABV 7.6% 20 IBU’s
Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale
Brewed as a tribute to Jazz legend Thelonious Monk, this strong dark abbey style ale is complex, rich, and robust. Pours fairly dark with enticing ruby highlights. A wonderful intricate aroma with notes of chocolate, brown sugar and caramel. A bit of spice was noted from the Belgian yeast. A medium mouthfeel with a pleasing malt sweetness, chocolate and traces of brown sugar which add a nuanced depth. The alcohol warmth balances well with the restrained malt flavors. Rich and robust, a great example of a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. I think you will enjoy this one, I sure do.
ABV 9.4% 27 IBU’s
Le Merle ( The Blackbird )Farmhouse Saison
Straw yellow with a thick foamy head. An exotic aroma with abundant hops, fruit esters of apple, pear, grape, and a touch of grass. Medium bodied, with flavors of various tropical fruit. The finish is dry and clean, slightly tart with a touch of pepper. The alcohol warmth adds to the overall balance. I would like a little more sour tartness myself, but I do like sour beers. Overall a very good example of a French Saison. If you like this style of beer give it a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
North Coast Brewing Company
455 North Main St.
Fort Bragg, CA
Don Williams has been a home brewer since 2002. He is a recognized BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge, and has taught brewing classes. Don’s job requires extensive travel, and he enjoys visiting brew pubs in various parts of the country. He and his wife live in Cottonwood, CA.