Named “One of the 10 Best Breweries in the World” by Chicago’s Beverage Testing Institute, the North Coast Brewing Co. serves up some of the tastiest beer and food in Nor-Cal.

If you’re road-tripping this summer and find yourself traveling Highway 1 do yourself a favor and stop at the brewery when you roll into Fort Bragg.

Don’t get confused by the brewing facilities,

and the micro brew supply shop conveniently located across the street from the pub. If you want to sample beers and have a bite you want to be on the east side of the street.

North Coast Brewing Co.’s pub is perfect after a day of adventure on the Mendo Coast. There’s a bunch of great rooms to dine inside, but the outside patio is prime if the sun’s out.

While the food is amazing, it’s really the beer that’s centerpiece. There’s no fewer than 12 beers on tap at all times at the North Coast Brewing Co. and while I’m usually drawn to IPA’s and Porter’s, I enjoyed just about every offering that came with the sampler, which I highly recommend. Even the lighter beers, like the pilsner and wheat brew, which I normally don’t care for, were floral to the nose, and crisp at the finish. Every drop that was served was enjoyable. The Old Ale Stock Ale was the only one I couldn’t quite hang with. It was still a worthy offering to try, but I don’t really have much of a palate for super strong beers that are so high in alcohol they smell and taste like whiskey. For those of you who dig this style of beer, apparently, this is “the one”.

Old Rasputin, an Imperial Stout, was the beer I was most impressed with. Turns out it was recently awarded a perfect score by RateBeer as one of the best beers of 2011, but I guess that’s not saying much for this brewery as the accolades and awards have been pouring in for a wide variety of North Coast Brewing Co.’s offerings since they first opened in 1988.

After you sample and pick your choice beverage, sit back and relax in the comfy tap-room, and  grab a few choice offerings to take on the road.

If you’re not too full from the delicious food, or too drunk from all the tasty beer, Fort Bragg has a somewhat vibrant surf community (this is the North Coast after all) and a bunch of surf breaks all within a few minutes drive from town. Most locals frequent the closest break, Virgin Creek, but if you keep heading north you’ll come to the town of Westport. Many locals and surf travelers feel this is a quintessential zone of Nor-Cal surfing. Raw ocean open to a wide variety of swell and winds, minimal crowds, and easy camping make this a great destination on any trip through Mendo. Camp at the KOA or at one of the several nearby state beaches, choose whatever peak looks best, crack a North Coast specialty brew, or even indulge in some of the County’s other well-known delicacy. You should then find yourself slipping into what locals call “the Mendo coma”. It’s not a bad thing, you just might be moving a little slower than usual, starring at the waves a little more intensely than you normally would, and find yourself spending a bit more time than you thought in this little corner of paradise just south of the Lost Coast.


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