The Quest for the Holy Grain - Best Microbreweries



Mammoth Lakes

San Marcos





Mammoth Brewing Company
18 Lake Mary Road
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
(760) 934-7141

Mammoth Brewing Company is at the highest elevation of any brewery on the west coast. Water boils at a lower temperature, 198 degrees, so Mammoth's beers are brewed in the kettle for a longer time than other breweries. The “low temperature boil” along with the pristine mountain water used creates a softer flavor. MBC calls itself “The Brew With Altitude.”

Eight “year-round” beers and a root beer are complimentary to sample, and other, seasonal or limited beers may be tasted for a slight fee. The year-round beers on tap:

Golden Trout Pilsner – can't go wrong here.

Paranoids Pale Ale (Also bottled as Yosemite Pale Ale) – one of the best Pale Ales' I've enjoyed, one can definitely sense the citrus hops used.

Real McCoy Amber Ale – this is perhaps the most “commercial” tasting of Mammoth's beers, and a smooth, session beer.

Lake Tahoe Red Ale – I'm not a huge fan of this genre, but this is a good example.

Double Nut Brown Porter – like the other beers, this was served cold, and would be amazing at room temperature. Since no nuts were harmed or used during the brewing of this beer, “Allergy Boy” could enjoy it without worrying about waking up redder than the Red Ale.

Floating Rock Hefeweizen – I'm not a real fan of this style either, but, believe it or not, this is the best hefe I've ever tasted. I could actually sense the banana clove highlights in this unfiltered example.

Epic IPA – Mammoth's best seller, and phenomenal. Without a doubt, the best IPA I've ever consumed. If I lived in the limited distribution area, parts of California and a small part of Nevada, this would be my “go to” beer. Hopped at two pounds per barrel, the hoppy body of this single IPA is less bitter than one would expect. A session IPA!

IPA 395 – This double IPA, named for the Jones Valley Highway off of which Mammoth Lakes is located, is bolder than the Epic and has the highest ABV, 8%, of all of Mammoth's year-round beers. Very tasty!

Imperial Root Beer – even though this is a beer site, the root beer deserves a mention. Having grown up on Barq's and A&W, Mammoth's root beer is phenomenal by comparison. At first sip, I detected an ingredient that really stood out on the palate, wintergreen. This replaces Sprecher as my favorite root beer.

Mammoth's “Don't Fear Our Beers” stickers are a play on the local “Don't Feed Our Bears” signs in town. Don't fear Mammoth's Beers, run, don't walk, to seek them out when in the eastern Sierras





Aftershock Brewing Company
28822 Old Town Front St. #209
Temecula, CA 92590
Phone (951) 972-2256

Temecula, CA is a rural community equidistant from San Diego and Los Angeles, that has experienced explosive growth over the last 25 years due to the discovery that its climate was ideal for growing grapes and making wine. Important also for brewing beer, it is in close proximity to microbrew-crazy San Diego.
With a population of around 100,000, there are five or six microbreweries and brew pubs in the immediate vicinity.
One of them is Aftershock Brewing Company.

Located in an industrial park, Aftershock's beer is self-distributed to local bars, and they definitely put the “micro” back into microbrewing.
Everything is done in labor intensive small quantities. This Questor wanted to take a photo of the brewing works, but it was so small and crowded with beer gear I couldn't get my camera into the room.
Suffice it to say it is tiny.
The front of the house has a nice tasting room, and they were pouring most of their beers the day we visited.
The beers were incredible. Like a lot of microbreweries currently, they specialize in IPAs, and were pouring at least four different varieties.
In addition, they had a supply of fresh local hops on hand, and on request were steeping the beer in French press coffeemakers to add even more hoppiness.
Drinking the two (straight, and hop-steeped) side by side was a revelation.
If a quality product is any predictor of success, Aftershock will soon be a household name (at least in households that drink microbrews)!

This review would be incomplete without a shoutout to Becky, our hostess. It seems she is something of a local fixture in the microbrewing scene. She was very entertaining, informative, and hospitable, and added a lot to the experience.




Green Flash Brewing Company
1430 Vantage Court, Suite 104
Vista, California 92081-8545

Yes, it is another high-end San Diego brewery and another brewery in a light industrial development.
So what's not to like?
No pub here, just a tasting room open on Friday evenings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
$6 bought us a taste of nine beers, eight of which were 6%+ and some available only at the brewery.
Full pints are also available, as are growlers and bottles for take home.
You won't be disappointed.




The Lost Abbey
155 Mata Way, Suite 104
San Marcos, California 92069

We're-Not-Worthy Beer Tour stop #2.
If Stone isn't enough then travel the 3.2 miles to brewer Tomme Arthur's beer playground at The Lost Abbey, located in a light industrial complex. We were there on a Saturday afternoon when it was standing room only, albeit any room to sit or stand was scarce.
Still, the beers, which include brews from both Port Brewing and Lost Abbey, are worth a stand on one leg if necessary.
Lost Abbey beers are all high-end and Belgian-inspired. Some are within a traditional beer style, others defy both tradition and style.
During our visit the nine Lost Abbey taps ranged from a 4.8% Witch's Wit to an 11% Serpent's Stout, with most closer to the stout in abv.
You may not be standing at all after two pints in this place.
Wooden barrels are everywhere, including being used as bar stools.
While there's no food, Lost Abbey offers some of the best craft beers we've ever tasted.
You want to go to there.






"They who drink beer will think beer ." ....Washington Irving














"They who drink beer will think beer ." ....Washington Irving