After a trademark blue bird powder day that Tahoe is known for, a cold beer and a great meal is in order. Luckily, in the mid-town section of South Lake Tahoe lies the newest gem that everyone must visit, the Cold Water Brewery and Grill. This part of South Lake has always been where the locals have hung out. Lately it seems to be going through a renaissance. The Cold Water Brewery and Grill is a perfect example of this. Originally, the old Swiss Chalet, the entire building was stripped down to the studs and made it into a new hot spot.
The outside resembles a chocolate shop with its warm vibrant dark brown colors. Upon entering, you are greeted immediately and the positive attentive staff directs you to your table. If your lucky, they’ll sit you down at one of the hand-crafted tables resurrected from the wood that was burned in one of the Tahoe fires. The top of the table exposes the many lines of grain which show how old the tree was. On the side of the table, the bark is stained from the fire and will remind everyone how we all must prevent forest fires. Looking around, light pine wood frames the large windows, exposing the brewery to the daylight and to South Lake with all of its excitement and grandeur.
After a few moments, Kylie, our waitress, dropped by to take our drink order.
The Beer – What else is there?
They do have a full bar for those that need a vodka tonic, but this is a brewery so be sure to check out one of their beers! Ryan, the brewmaster, is an artist and the quality of beer they serve is up to par to any brewery in the country. Normally, they serve eight of their own beers out of the sixteen taps available.
Here are the ones we tried:
The Preachers Pale Ale –
A British pale ale fortified with west coast hops. The beer is light golden in color and has an aroma of peaches and dried apples. A refreshing ale that finishes crisp with juniper notes.
Hall of the Gods Porter –
A dark beer perfect for a winter day. A heavy bodied Porter starts slightly sweet with cocoa notes flowing into a crisp raisin finish. This beer was fit for Goldi-locks – not too bitter … not too sweet… but just right.
Water House Wheat –
How do you tell if you have a great wheat beer besides the awesome taste? The experts will say that you should see your finger through to the other side of the glass. Not only does Water House Wheat taste fantastic, but it also passes the experts’ test. The citrus notes and refreshing light body is the epitome of a classic wheat beer. It’s not overly done and the Water House Wheat is light enough that you could even have a second.
Tahoe Cross IPA –
In Cold Water’s words, it is “a big, dark, dank hoppy” type of beer. Very hoppy IPA but yet super refined. On the initial sip of the beer the hops can be tasted on your tongue but the beer doesn’t finish bitter. A very refreshing beer.
After Kylie brought us our first set of beers she patiently walked us through the menu and explained some of the more creative things available on the menu. Feeling accomplished at tackling the mountain it was time to celebrate. So, we ordered the Cast Iron Layered Nachos. They came in a manageable size for two or three hungry skiers or snowboarders. The tortilla chips were covered with fresh cilantro, melted cheddar cheese, tomatoes and corn. It was refreshing and just big enough to prepare a group for the main course.
Once the nachos were devoured, Deb, the owner of Cold Water Brewery and Grill, stopped by to see how we were doing. For those that don’t know Deb, she is a true fixture of South Lake Tahoe. She has worked everywhere from Sierra at Tahoe to Stateline Brewery to Chevy’s Restaurant and has managed over 2,000 employees.
It was exciting to hear her explain how they chose some of the more unique items on the menu. The goal was to take items that are found in Tahoe along with staples from their personal experiences to create a great selection of food to eat. A perfect example of taking something that is found locally and put a new spin on it is the trout fish tacos. Looking for something more rich or luscious then a trout fish taco? Cold Water’s take on a midwest original is beyond amazing…the Juicy Lucy, it is!
What is a Juicy Lucy?
A Juicy Lucy is a hamburger that is stuffed with cheese…Yes, INSIDE of the meat and cooked until the cheese is melted. Cold Water’s version comes on a soft warm bun holding the patty and topped with a slide of melted cheddar cheese. Upon the initial bite you will hit an unexpected center, filled with smoked cheddar and blue cheese, instead of the normal American cheese. A fantastic take on a traditional flavor. Not overly cooked, leaning towards medium rare…even without asking, they made it medium rare. Perfect! As a side, you can get the fries which are good but we highly suggest their sunshine salad since the burger itself is very rich. It is something different and refreshing to go along with a rich burger or their Santa Maria Tri Tip Dip sandwich. The salad is filled with slice of oranges, sunflower seeds, and creamy citrus vinaigrette that will invite you to take another bite until there is nothing left to eat.
Note: To make sure that the cheese is cooked right inside your Juicy Lucy, they can’t over cook the burger so you can’t really order it well done if that’s how you like it.
The Santa Maria Tri Tip Dip sandwich
For those looking for something less adventurous but still delicious, the Tri Tip sandwich is a great choice. It comes on a hearty roll that keeps the tender Tri Tip slices in their place as you dip it into the au jus sauce. The sandwich speaks for itself trying to not cover the quality of meat they use along with the fried onions. A straight forward sandwich that fits a straight shooter.
What you shouldn’t miss!!!
With all this great food, make sure to leave some room for dessert!!!! It will not disappoint. The “The GiGi” is a homemade snickers bar with raspberry tart sauce, named after Deb’s mother. Naming it a snickers bar is an insult… because Grandma would’ve said it was her idea! A fresh peanut butter and chocolate delight that has the look and feel of a candy bar. Words cannot describe how good this dessert is. DO NOT LEAVE COLD WATER WITHOUT TRYING THIS!!!
So, is this a great place to check out after a long day of snowboarding or skiing at Sierra at Tahoe or Heavenly? Absolutely! In fact, if you are anywhere near South Lake Tahoe check out the newest jewel in the crown of Tahoe.