June Lake is holding its second annual beer festival this Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., a short waddle from town. Nearby lodging makes this an attractive event for those seeking to explore the ever-expanding Sierra craft beer scene. Note that fall colors will begin to peak this weekend, making this mini-Switzerland of the Sierra a timely stop.
Of particular note is the hometown favorite, June Lake Brewing, a recent start-up in the heart of the village. Taking advantage of the pristine local waters, the brewery serves up robust and smoky porters and traditional English browns. On the lighter side, and my favorite, is the Silver Lake Saison. Those looking for something a little more hoppy should sample the Deer Beer Brown Ale.
Located five hours north of L.A. in a warehouse just down the street from the famed Tiger Bar, the June Lake Brewing warehouse and tasting room has been open since June 21. Before then, the Mammoth Brewing Co. was the go-to spot for craft beer lovers. Next to open: Mountain Ramble Brewery, an hour south in Bishop. Hmmm, a brewery in a town based on fishing? Microbreweries are natural fits for Bishop and June Lake as well.
"Young kids taking big chances in a small town," explains June Lake Brewing's Sarah Walsh, who started the company with her husband, Justin. Originally from San Diego, the couple fell in love with June Lake, population 629, and were looking to do something there they'd enjoy. "We're businesspeople with beer problems," Walsh said with a laugh.
In spring, summer and fall, June Lake caters to anglers flocking to its renowned trout waters. In winter, skiers arrive – weather willing. June Mountain reopened last year and suffered through a dismal snow season. So, more and more, the town seems dependent on attractions like this. The brewery gives summer travelers a worthy pit stop after a day on the lake or a long hike.
In addition to the 13 breweries taking part, Saturday's fest will feature food, games, live music and a stein-holding contest. Admission is free and individual beers start at $5. Tasting tickets start at $20.
Unable to make the fest? June Lake Brewing's tasting room is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closed Tuesdays). It is at 131 S. Crawford Ave., just down from the landmark Tiger Bar.
Info: (858) 668-6340, www.junelakebrewing.com
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