If you’re a beer lover, then you’ll want to read on. A pioneer in the Craft Beer movement, Fort Bragg-based North Coast Brewing Company has been around since 1988 as a local brewpub.
Located on California’s Mendocino Coast, the brewery has won more than 110 awards in national and international competitions. In addition to Red Seal Ale, Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, Scrimshaw Pilsner, and other North Coast brands, the brewery has resurrected the old Acme label which has a heritage dating back to the San Francisco of the 1860’s.
Now available in 48 states now and exported to both Europe and the Pacific Rim, we were able to test most of them under the North Coast Brewing Company’s roof, where we also had a chance to experience their dinner menu, starting with salads and appetizers!!
Let’s face it — if there’s a beet salad on a menu, it’s impossible for me not to try it, especially if it comes with goat cheese, which it almost always does.
They also offer a variety of other salads, including BBQ Chicken, Classic Caesar, Butterhead Wedge with gorganzola crumbles and bacon, a farm salad made with Kale from nearby Fortunate Farms (their greens are organic), a Spinach mushroom salad with chicken, toasted walnuts and apples, which was a special on the evening we were there, or a fresh Seared Sea Scallop Salad which they serve on mizuma greens with Daley’s smoked bacon and a spicy vinaigrette dressing. Two thumbs up!
Fun appetizers include a cured meat plate, fried Calamari, a Spinach Artichoke Dip, nachos with guacamole, Steamed Clams, Oysters on the half shell, Coconut Shrimp with a tangy Thai dipping sauce and Carpaccio, always a favorite of mine. They also have a fresh Ceviche, which is made with wild-caught Pacific shrimp, and marinated in lime juice with tomatoes, onion, cilantro and jalapeno. (all GMO-free)
Pizza lovers will love the fact that you can build your own pizza. From traditional Margheritas and Wild Mushroom Pizzas to a Cajun Etouffee Pizza with shrimp, Andouille sausage, red onions, gorgonzola and mozzarella, they’ve got you covered.
They also offer a delicious Tomato and Bacon pizza with Maple-roasted cherry tomatoes, sauce, pepper bacon, goat cheese and mozzarella. Our host ordered a white pizza (oh so divine) — think caramelized onions, cheese and pine nuts.
I ordered the special entree, which was a scrumptious Swordfish served with scallops, grilled prawns and Trumpet Royale mushrooms!
This dish was made with grilled fennel (one of my faves), Yokayo Ranch Mendo-Mix salad and a fried lemon wedge. We paired the fish with their Cherry Tart Berlinerweiss (I wasn’t sure if I was drinking a wine or a beer at first).
Below, the Linguini Frutti Di Mare, had us at hello. This seafood medley comes with sauteed clams, prawns and scallops in a white wine butter sauce with shallows, capers and yes, garlic – plenty of it! It was a wow dish and Anthony vouched for the perfect tenderness of the pasta.
Behind the scenes in the kitchen is Mississippi-born chef Tony Hannah which we didn’t have a chance to meet this time around but there appear to be some Southern Influences in his cooking.
I should add that their menu also offers burgers (beef is from John Ford Ranch), fish & chips, shrimp & chips and a Rosemary Chicken, all great options if you’re ordering beer opposed to wine with your meal. Speaking of beer, those beer lover readers are probably wondering what we tasted and what we loved.
I would be lying if we said we drank everything on the list, but we got pretty close. They offer a sampler so you can get an idea of their variety. We started on the lighter side and then went bigger and bolder as the evening wore on.
We learned that there were 4,400 breweries in the states in 1869, which eventually went down to a few hundred. The U.S. apparently didn’t reach its 4,400 number again until just last year and there are now permits for around 7,000 breweries today and the demand is growing. We love craft beers so are thrilled to learn that local regions are doing their best to create new hybrids and styles to sample throughout the country.
Options at North Coast Brewing Company include the PranQster, a Belgian Style Golden Ale, the Brother Thelonious, a Belgian Style Abbey Ale, Le Merle, a Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale, Puck, a Petite Saison, Old Rasputin, a Russian Imperial Stout (YUM!!), Old Stock Ale, a few Red Seal Ales and the Scrimshaw, which is a fresh tasting Pilsner using Munich malt and Hallertauer and Tettnang hops.
We also dove into the Blue Star, an American Wheat Beer (my least favorite), the Old No. 38 Stout, which is a Dublin style dry stout, the Acme California Pale Ale, the Acme IPA, India Pale Ale and the North Coast Steller IPA, also an India Pale Ale.
Our favorites? As you can see, we made a dent in the batch and this shot wasn’t taken at the end of the evening either.
In the end, I realized that both Anthony and I share a similar taste for beer although truth be told, his year abroad in Belgium certainly contributes to his love of Belgium style ales. He gave two thumbs up to the Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale (whoah that beautiful caramel malt taste), which also has a great history. Apparently 10% of sales goes to the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute and they make other community contributions as well.
We both swooned over the Belgian Golden Ale (yum, yum, yum) and the Acme California Pale Ale, although my personal favorite was the Old Stock Ale, an English Strong Ale, which doesn’t surprise me since I was introduced to them in college when I studied in London and I’ve loved dark ales ever since.
Lastly, we tried a rarer one, the North Coast Grand Cru, which we drank with dessert.
One of their unique dessert offerings is the Thelonious Monk Ice Cream, which is made with Thelonious Monk Belgian Style Abbey Ale and btw, see that peanut brittle on the top? Yup, it’s made with Thelonious Monk Ale as well. It was so delicious that I certainly didn’t need to deviate, but I decided to pour a few shots of the Grand Cru on top of the ice cream at which point, I died and went to heaven. Both the beer and the ice cream are “Brother Thelonious” and oh so yum.
The Grand Cru for those who are wondering, is aged with bourbon and agave barrels for about a year and is as close to Port as you can get in a beer.
If you’re not a beer lover (it’s hard to imagine at this point), then go for their more traditional creme brulee.
North Coast Brewing Company, Inc.
455 North Main Street
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
Other Articles Of Interest on the Area:
- 6 Ways to Get Your Nature Fix on the Mendocino Coast
- The Inn at Newport Ranch
- The Fireside Spa at Inn at Newport Ranch
- Glass Beach in Fort Bragg
Note: we were hosted by the restaurant, but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.