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Mammoth Brewing Company Offers Memorable Beers in a Mountain Setting

Building a reputation beer by beer
by Carrie Dow on Nov 13, 2015 in Beer
Mammoth Brewing Company Offers Memorable Beers in a Mountain Setting

Mammoth Brewing Company sold its first keg in December of 1995. Since then, the brewery has been slowly expanding its inventory, its capacity, and its stellar reputation throughout California. Owner Sean Turner now wants to take MBC to the next level.

Turner took over the brewery from founder Sam Walker, who began with a restaurant called Whiskey Creek in the 1970s, then adding the brewery long before the craft beer craze happened. Turner and his wife Joyce, who have been involved in the beer business since the 1990s, bought the brewery from Walker in 2007. His goal is to not just make beer; he wants to make the best beer.

While he started as an avid home brewer, Turner learned after a while that he is much better at marketing beers than making them so when he came to Mammoth, he made it a point to keep head brewer Jason Senior and gave him control over the brewing while Turner set about raising the brewery’s profile. He has been doing that with a simple marketing strategy, naming the beers.

When Turner took over, the only beer that had a “name” was the Golden Trout Pilsner, named for the California State Freshwater Fish that lives in the Sierras. This popular pilsner is a buttery golden blend of Vienna Malts and Saaz Hops and its ABV of 5.5% makes it easy to drink while fishing for its namesake.

The Double Nut Brown is the brewery’s other most popular beer, a gold medal winner at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. The beer tastes like a roasted coffee with a blend of hazelnut, walnut, and peanut flavors. However, the brewery’s tasting notes say, “No nuts were harmed or used in making this beer.” The other beers offered were the Mammoth IPA, the Mammoth Pale Ale, and the Mammoth Amber. Turner wants the beers to have individual names because he wants people to remember the beers, not just the brewery.

In that regard, the brewery now offers the Paranoids Pale Ale, named after a double black diamond ski run on Mammoth Mountain. This all-American blend of Cascade and Centennial hops leans more to the piney side of pale ale then the citrus with a clean finish and a 5.5% ABV. The Real McCoy Amber Ale is named for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s founder, Dave McCoy and is fermented at slightly colder temperatures to bring out the flavor of its Dark Munich Malts. The beer is a dark amber color, almost brown, and has 5.5% ABV. The Epic IPA is botanical boldness in a glass with two pounds of Horizon, Citra, and Amarillo Hops per barrel, yet only has a 6.5% ABV.

Beers that have been added since Turner took over are the Wild Sierra Saison and the IPA 395. The Wild Sierra, while delicious, tastes less fruity than traditional farmhouse ales because the brewer uses local Pinon Pine needles to flavor the beer, adding a more earthy flavor. Turner says one of his favorite beers is the IPA 395. Named for the highway that leads visitors from both LA and Reno into Mammoth, Turner loves the 395 because of its scent. The brewery puts Great Basin Sagebrush and juniper berries into the fermenters, like a dry-hopped beer, giving it a forest scent and a more complex taste than the Epic IPA.

Locals are fond of the brewery’s barrel-aged series that starts with the Lair of the Bear Russian Imperial Stout in the winter, the Gooseberry Sour in the spring, the Blondibock in the summer, and the Elderberry Sour in the fall. Aged in bourbon barrels - the Stout and the Elderberry are aged for almost a year - these complex and flavorful beers are treasured when the bottles arrive in taproom and local stores.

If you visit, enjoy a beer in the brewery’s beer garden with a flatbread pizza from the pub. Connoisseurs can also find Mammoth beers throughout the state of California, Reno, and Tahoe, NV. Turner has plans to distribute into other western US states soon. For a weekend full of fun, be sure to visit during the brewery’s blues and brews annual festival called Bluesapalooza in August 2016.

Mammoth Brewing Company, 18 Lake Mary Rd.; 760-934-7141

Photos by Carrie Dow


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