Lake Tahoe Breweries – The Growing Brew Scene On Big Blue

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Ten years ago, it seemed that every ski town had at least one or two world class breweries. That is, every ski town except for Lake Tahoe. Due to the challenge of obtaining permits as well as zoning laws it’s been extremely difficult for brewers to open up in the region. In the past few years this has changed quite a bit. In fact, the lake and surrounding area is booming with breweries. Of course, a word to the wise, we do not suggest driving them all in one day. Craft brew is the in thing. We have seen it gain momentum slowly, but surely in the area. We touched on it last year when we covered the creation and opening of the Cold Water Brewery. After the post we sat back and continued to watch as brewery after brewery emerged.  So, it’s time for a multi part series we are going to dub the “brew review!” This review will touch on things the every day beer drinker might like.  While we have had our share of suds, beer snobs we are not.  The descriptions will include taste, ambiance and things that make a particular brewery unique. So stay tuned.  Below we thought a sneak peak of what to expect was in order. Enjoy (responsibly)!

A beautiful summer morning in Tahoe City - Image Taken by Doug Jones
A beautiful summer morning in Tahoe City – Image Taken by Doug Jones

Tahoe Mountain Brewing – Tahoe City’s finest

Bay Area folks may have already seen some of their unique beers available in bottles on liquor store shelves near you. Believe me, it’s only a small sampling of the choices available. The original brewing location in Tahoe City is now the brewpub. Located just across the street from Lake Tahoe it’s a perfect summer destination if you want to enjoy fantastic food and a pint with scenery. Looking for a nice added touch? Order a beer sampler. The holder is made out of wood and cut in the shape of the lake. When in Truckee, stop by their brewery. It’s off the beaten path at the end of a industrial park cul-de-sac. The brewery has a great bar! You can hang out and sample all their flavors or grab a growler, six-pack or keg to take home. Both locations are stellar and definitely worth a visit.


Tasting Room & Brewery:

Brew pub:

  • Hours: Monday – Thursday 11:30- 8 pm; Friday and Saturday 11:30- 9 pm
  • Address:  475 N. Lake Boulevard, Tahoe City, CA     96145

Reno’s craft – row

Down the hill in Reno for a night of revelry? Start the evening with a bar crawl through to what is becoming the craft brew district of Reno. Three breweries, a distillery, and a couple of restaurants within a square mile it’s definitely worth the stop.

Pigeon Head Brewery  Great flavor and style

Image taken by Bryce Chisholm
Image taken by Bryce Chisholm

Started by a man with over 25+ years of experience with ten years of those as a founding employee at New Belgium Brewery this place seeks to be something that isn’t trendy, but rather making their own path. In fact, they are the first lager brewery in Northern Nevada with brews like an India Pale Lager, Red Rye Lager, and Black Lager on tap. The tasting room is amazing as well with bar stools welded by a local company based in Reno. Walking in to Pigeon Head you can tell a lot of thought and attention went into the place. For example the stools, table and décor fits the industrial feel of the neighborhood. To top it off their knowledgeable, hip staff serve some really drinkable beer that will make this joint memorable.


  • Hours: Wednesday – Sunday: Noon – 8 p.m.
  • Online: Pigeon Head Brewery online and their Facebook page
  • Address: 840 E. 5th Street, Reno, NV, 89512

Under the Rose Brewery – a spot to kick it

A nice pint of brew is waiting for you at Under the Rose - Image taken by Steve Timko
A nice pint of brew is waiting for you at Under the Rose – Image taken by Steve Timko

In a large warehouse located just down the street from Pigeon Head, Under the Rose is perfect for anyone that wants to have a few libations and play table tennis, bocce, or foosball. The brewery truly makes you feel at home. Under the Rose has the feeling of hanging out in your garage with your pals, playing some games or just shooting the shit. It is welcoming and is a perfect chill out spot to have a beer and relax.


  • Hours: Wednesday – Friday: 2 pm – 8 pm; Saturday 12 pm – 8 pm; Sunday 12 pm – 6 pm
  • Online: Under the Rose Brewing
  • Address:  559 E 4th St, Reno, NV 89512



Great Basin Brewery – The OG

Great Basin Brewery is one of the oldest micro breweries in Northern Nevada dating back to 1993. They have won awards on their quality beers in multiple events. If you are in a pub anywhere in the greater Lake Tahoe region there’s a good chance you’ll find an ‘Icky’ or ‘Outlaw’ on draft. The Ichthyosaur, is Great Basin’s India Pale Ale and is very tasty. Named after Nevada’s official state fossil it’s the beer of choice for IPA lovers. On the other hand, the Outlaw Milk Stout is their most decorated and arguably best tasting beer they make. After your first sip of this beer you’ll know why it has won medals in both the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. This milk stout has a rare flavor profile. Dark coffee notes and a silky texture make it a must try for anyone that likes something a bit different. If you are in Reno or Sparks make sure to drop by one of their two brewpubs to enjoy their large assortment of rotating beers as well as have some amazing food that will not disappoint. Don’t forget to try their Icky bread that is doused with Icky IPA and made with barley from the brewing process. Even if you don’t make it down to Reno, do yourself a favor and grab a sixer to treat yourself.


Sparks Location – The Original Location

Reno Location

  • Address:  5525 S. Virginia Street, Reno, Nevada

Alibi Ale Works – North Shore’s King

It seems that every town around Tahoe has really picked up on the “craft beer craze” and now Incline Village has officially joined the party in a big way. With a rustic but sophisticated style Alibi fits well into the culture of this small slice of heaven on the North Shore of Tahoe. From the recycled pallets, the solid beamed bar, to the old beer can collection Alibi immediately kick starts your senses. Seconds after your nose takes over. The open design allows you to watch and smell the brewing process throughout the different stages. This brewery and public house have been cleverly designed with a mix stimulating your sight, smell and taste to provide the complete journey. The look and smell is awesome, but make no mistake…the taste of the beer is definitely the main attraction. From the standard IPA the flavors run the gamut. Some include Kombucha, Porter, Stout and even a nice Strawberry Tart. Catering to all taste buds their large assortment of beers from European to hoppy American styles make this a perfect place to hang out with friends and to meet the locals. Although there is no kitchen, food is never an issue. Sol Food Food Truck is usually parked nearby or you can even bring your own! After a day of romping around the hills or swimming in the Lake, swing by and grab a cold one. This spot will be one of your new favorites!


  • Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 3 pm – 10 p.m.; Thursday: 3 pm – 11 pm Friday – Sunday: noon – 11 pm
  • Online: Alibi Ale Works
  • Address:  204 E Enterprise St, Incline Village, NV 89451

Coldwater Brewery & Grill


When Cold Water Brewery just opened their rotation of eight brews were great, but like all great places they did not rest on their laurels. It seems that this pub continues to evolve from their food selection to their beers. One of their newest selections is considered a Golden Ale based on how it is brewed, but it deserves its own category. Starting sweet like Saison it finishes dry like a true golden ale. A perfect fit for a Saison lover that wants to expand their palette a bit, or for anyone wanting something a little out of the ordinary. Debbie is a very hospitable owner that listens to her patrons. The menu and flavors are continually being tweaked to perfection. If you’ve been, I know what you are thinking but don’t worry. The greatest dessert ever is still on the menu and unchanged…the Gigi. For more about the Gigi and the Coldwater Brewery, go here.


  • Hours: Monday – Thursday: 11 am – 10 pm; Friday – Saturday: 11 am – 11 pm; Sunday 9:30 am – 10:00 pm
  • Online: Cold Water Brewery and Grill
  • Address:  2544 Lake Tahoe Blvd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

FiftyFifty Craft Brewery and Restaurant – Balanced


The classic skate/snowboard trick the “50-50” is a slide or grind down a rail parallel to it while keeping yourself balanced. Just like this, Fifty-Fifty Craft Brewery and Restaurant leaves you with that perfect balance. Great beer along with tasty food to finish off the day. Names like Concentrated Evil, Rockslide, and Foggy Goggle let you know this spot understands how to have fun. Even if you’re not a drinker, the cuisine is worth a stop. From pizzas, to salads, and sandwiches there is something for everyone. If you are looking for something unique, try one of Mountain Valley Meats sausages. Thes are freshly made next door at the butcher shop.

  • Hours: Sunday – Thursday: 11 am – 9 pm; Friday – Saturday: 11 am – 9:30 pm
  • Online: FifityFifty Brewing
  • Address:  11197 Brockway Rd #1, Truckee, CA 96161

This is only an introduction of the many breweries in the greater Lake Tahoe Region. We will continue to dig deeper into some of our other favorite breweries around the region in upcoming articles. Until then, tell us about your “Local Freshies” spot that makes your favorite brew in your ski town?

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