It is the Lake Tahoe Red Ale that most compares with the Real McCoy, being described as a “beefed up” version of it. The results are great. The body is darker, redder, more interesting. There is a strong body, still well balanced, but now with a stronger hop presence. The middle has a creamy nature to it (definite kudos to consistently good carbonation) but there is a nice roasted finish to it. Even with all that flavor it still finished crisp. I said to my wife “you can drink a lot of this”. With that much character, but still high drinkability, this is a “Must Have It”.
Back to lighter beers with Floating Rock Hefeweizen. This beer is a Bavarian style Hef, and pours lightly cloudy as it should but with a stronger yellow color than I am used to (as opposed to a yellow/tan mix). There is a good wheaty front note followed by a finish that is crisper than I am used to in traditional Bayern Hefs. This crisp finish cuts down on the ability of the malt to deliver those rich flavors on the back end, such as banana or spice. Being that this beer doesn’t do the one thing I expect it to (to be fair, this exact flavor is why a lot of people don’t like Hef at all), it is hard to reconcile the overall good flavor with the underwhelming mouth experience. While I enjoy this beer and think it is generally a “Try It” (especially following a day outdoors), overall opinions on it were mixed, and in the category of traditional Bavarian Hefs you should “Skip It” and drink a Schneider Weisse.
Mammoth Brewing Company is doing good work and deserves your support. I met with their owner and head brewer, Sean Turner, at the Sacramento’s Brewers Festival (pictured above). A very nice guy and he seems to have a good team.
In sum MBC is giving California delicious and drinkable beers. While they may not compete head on with some of the super strong flavor beers, I find these more drinkable, and to me and my Bavarian-trained palate, that is what really matters. I can say with great confidence that this is the best California brewery located at least a mile high. I am going to tour the mountain Southwest in the next few weeks and I will try see if I can find a better high altitude brew anywhere in the US. I like challenges.