Why we're here...

Beer culture is coming of age. At any store, restaurant, bar, or friend's house you can now find at least a few good brews. In fact, there seem to be so many new beers, breweries and bars it's difficult to separate the good, the bad, and the mediocre.

If you're going spend $10 on one beer, what should you buy? If you're going to drive 2 hours to check out a brewery, what's worth your time? If you're going to plan a Friday night, what has a good selection and friendly atmosphere? We're here to help you answer these questions.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jack Russell Brewing Company

Walking in from parking.
The take home case
Jack Russell Brewing Company is located in Camino, CA in the Apple Hill area off of Highway 50. It is a brewery, winery and meadery. It's located on 11 acres and grows its own wine grapes, hops, and berries (the berries are often used in their brews, wines, and meads).

It opened in 1996 and is modeled after a traditional English Farm Brewery and visiting the place you can see the influence. The road to Jack Russell is narrow and winding. You pass apple farms and stands and abandoned lumber mills. At first glance Jack Russell looks like another apple stand, but trust the small sign, it's Jack Russell.

The outdoor area.
There is plenty of parking in the gravel lot in front. Between the lot and the brewery is a sizable grassy area filled with plastic picnic tables, mobile fire pits, and various vendors - kettle corn, jewelry, photography, blown glass, and BBQ food. There were even folks playing corn hole off to one side.

I've seen Jack Russell advertise outdoor concerts and I can see why - the grass area is big enough to accommodate a band and sizable crowd. There was even an outside bar, but it was not in use when we were there.  As you walk up, a sign points you in the direction of the two distinct areas of Jack Russell - the winery/meadery cave and the beer taproom.

BBQ for Sale outside
The tap room.
The taproom has a nice wood decor, a fireplace in the corner, one table for 4, a rack for shirts, hats and sweaters, and a to-go fridge with bottles. You are allowed to create your own mixed 6-packs for $9. There are usually 9 beers on tap; $4 a pint, $1 tasters.

Jack Russell has about 18 different beers, but many are seasonal. Their Farm House, Huntsman Lager and Strong Blond were our favorites. The Brown Ale I took home was enjoyable.

The Wine and Mead Cave
Around the south side of the brewery you will find the newly opened wine and mead "cave". While it's a fake cave, it's well crafted and welcoming. We tasted the 3 different meads, which each used a different yeast. We enjoyed the semi-sweet mead, but as beer geeks, we are not the best judges of mead. Mead is closer to wine than beer.

Overall, we enjoyed our trip to Jack Russell. It's a little out of the way from Sacramento, but would be a nice escape for a day trip to the mountains or when you're visiting Apple Hill. The beers had less high notes than we had hoped, but there were a few that we enjoyed. Their full selection was not available, but I look forward to tasting more of their brews. There is enough skill in them to bring me back.

Looking south.
The customer service was great and the atmosphere was relaxing. Being surrounded by rolling, pine covered hills, small farmhouses is almost as relaxing as sipping on their beers.

I recommend you find the time to make a trip. I would probably wait for warmer weather, in order to enjoy the amazing outdoor area.

Walking up to the cave.
The view from the cave.

1 comment:

  1. worth a detour on your way from/to Tahoe on the 50.....