Brewery Name: Auburn Alehouse
Type of Brewery: Brewpub
Location: Auburn, California
Facebook: Auburn Alehouse Craft Brewery
Background: I grew up in New York and lived in Washington, DC for quite some time after that. I thought I knew what traffic was. Then I got to California and was re-educated. This particular time, I was headed from San Francisco to Tahoe, and for one reason or another got a bit of a later start than planned. This meant that what could potentially be a three-hour drive was going to take us closer to eight. Thankfully, Auburn Alehouse was a perfect pit stop to aim for along the way. Far enough to make good progress, close enough to provide a light at the end of the traffic tunnel.
I had heard a bit about Auburn Alehouse and tried a few of their brews at last year's beer week, but, since it's a ways outside of the city, I hadn't ever gone to visit. Enter the perfect opportunity. Auburn Alehouse brews a huge spectrum of beer styles, which is something that is always attractive to me. Better yet, they pull it off--Auburn Alehouse has great beers in all parts of that spectrum.
Growlers: On almost everything, yes. They've got a couple nitros along with a small number of the specialty seasonals that aren't eligible, but everything else is fair game!
The Beers: So, so, so many beers here. They do a great job of bottling enough to provide for sale but not so much that it starts to get old. Their bar sports a few nitro taps, some cask ales, and a whole mess of taps for their house and seasonal beers. I couldn't resist the hoppy stuff, but I threw a black lager in for good measure. Here's what I tried:
Vibe: "Town square brewpub" feel here. It was clear upon arrival that this is the place to be on a Friday night for good craft beer and a solid end of the week reward meal. We hadn't seen much in the way of crowds or even many other places to stop before arriving here, but when we did, it was definitely a buzzing place.
Family friendly and a great watering hole with a large group, the layout is conducive to having whatever type of experience you're looking for. Plenty of room to sit at a table and a huge bar make for a great use of space and easy ability to get the next round. Staff was great and managed the crowd extremely well.
This was also one of the better incorporations of the actual brewing section into a pub area that I've seen. Two floors of windows at the far end of the building give you a glimpse into the tank area, and they have it lit in a way that highlights the machinery without blinding the dining room. By design, it's definitely a different feel from the warehouse-style brewery that I see a lot in the city, and I wish it were a little more obvious that you were actually in the brewery. That said, this allows them to have more space, a bigger menu, and to capture the town square vibe that works so well for them.
Dogs: No dogs inside here since it's more or less a restaurant. I went during the winter, but I believe when the weather gets nicer there is some outdoor seating that would provide pup-ability in the summer.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. Full pours range from $5ish to $8ish, depending on what's available. Their flagship stuff is delicious and is sold for $5 even, which is tough to beat. They do flights, half pours, and bottles of most beers as well. Food is very reasonably priced and a real highlight of this venue.
Food: The food here is a pretty significant plus as far as brewpubs go. The menu is huge, and everything we tried was excellent. Good food at a place like this is an absolute must, and Auburn Alehouse hits every mark with options ranging from small plates to southern food to pizza and burgers.
We visited during normal dinner time but also saw some info about all sorts of beer/food pairing events, special menus, holiday events, and several other fun happenings that centered on good food with good beer.
Final Thoughts: So very glad we made a point to stop here on our trip. There is so much beer in San Francisco and Oakland that I admittedly don't get nearly as much as I'd like from breweries in the rest of Northern California. Auburn Alehouse was a reminder that the rest of the area has beer just as good, and benefits from having a little more space to put up a shop. Happy to say that this will surely become a tradition as part of the trip to Tahoe moving forward!
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