Weekend at Yosemite…with pictures

Half Dome Through the Mist from Glacier Point

Last weekend was the family trip with some friends to Yosemite National Park.  I did no running, but drank some fine Mammoth Brewing beers.  Saturday, the whole family made it all the way up the John Muir Trail to Nevada Falls.  If recovering from a long hike with a Mammoth Brewing Double Nut Brown Porter isn’t bliss, I don’t know what is.

Not much else to say, but I took some nice pictures, so hope you’ll enjoy them!

Nevada Falls 
Liberty Cap…Nevada Falls can be seen just off to its right if you look close

The drought left only a trickle of water over Nevada Falls

The family on the Nevada Falls bridge

Mammoth Double Nut Brown Porter is mighty
tasty after a hike.

Beer of the Month: Ahwahnee Amber Ale from Mammoth Brewing

It’s no puzzle that Ahwahnee Amber and
Yosmite National Park are interlocking.

The sheer cliffs, the towering water falls, and the overall surrealistic landscape of Yosemite all speak to us.  For some, Yosemite declares the overwhelming power and beauty of nature.  For others, it reminds us of a need to preserve our environmental treasures for future generations.  But for me, the grandeur of Yosemite whispers “Hey, there’s a Mammoth Brewing brewski just around the corner with your name on it!”

So our Beer of the Month is one enjoyed on a recent weekend trip to Yosemite, Ahwahnee Amber Ale from Mammoth Brewing.  (Outside of the National Park, it’s known as Real McCoy Amber.)  Now Mammoth makes a couple of pretty good IPA’s (Epic and 395) and their Hair of the Bear Dopplebock is one of the best Dopplebock’s I’ve had.  But the day I spent long five miles and 2,000 vertical feet hiking of The Mist Trail to Vernal Falls, and then up to Nevada falls, the Ahwahnee Amber at the bottom tasted like sweet nectar.

There’s really nothing fancy about this beer, and that’s what’s so good about it.  Just lots of toasty malt, with a little nuttiness, and a smattering of earthy hops combine to create a smooth, drinkable pleasure.  Ever since I discovered Mammoth Brewing 2 1/2 years ago on my last tip to Yosemite, the brewery and it’s iconic landscape have become intractably linked.  And I just can’t leave without showing you a few more Yosemite pictures.  Hope you enjoy.

A Couple More from Mammoth Brewing

Last month during a trip to Yosemite National Park, I discovered a few brews from Mammoth Brewing, and brought a few home. Mammoth Lakes does not seem to distribute into the San Francisco Bay area, so I’m glad had a few to enjoy over the past month. You can read about a few of their beers on a post from last month, and wanted to add a couple more to list of their beers worth seeking out.

Hair of the Bear Doppel Bock
Tastes like liquid banana bread! Plenty of banana-like fruity esters, lots of roasted malt and maybe a slight taste of bitter chocolate in their. Feather like quality on the tongue and finishes very smoothly. The 9% abv isn’t noticeable with all those great flavors blended together.

395 Double IPA
Named after the highway through the Eastern Sierras, Mammoth Brewing uses local grown hops, dessert sage, and mountain juniper to create a unique, very savory, slightly earthy and somewhat herbal double IPA. There’s a good dose of slightly toasty malt to balance all the hop and herbal goodness. I just found this to be a very creative and memorable brew.

High Altitude Training and Carbo Loading in Yosemite

Sometimes, you just have to break the monotonous routines of life, to refresh by experiencing new things and breaking routines. And so was glad I recently spent a long weekend with some friends at a cabin inside Yosemite National Park. In addition to seeing friends I haven’t seen in a while we were also celebrating my girlfriend Linda’s birthday.

And while I’ve found it’s important to establish a training routine for running success, breaking this routine once in a while is always helpful. Races often create some unexpected adversity, so dealing with new and different barriers in training from time to time helps to prepare for whatever the race throws at you. So I appreciated getting a couple good high altitude runs in through the trails in and around the town of Wawona inside the park, which seemed to rejuvenate my legs a bit, having gotten into a little running rut.

Of course during the weekend, we spent a day in the Yosemite Valley, taking in the surreal, iconic landscape that’s inspired generations. As I stood amongst the majestic pine trees, with the Merced River rushing by, and gazed upwards at the famous cascading waterfalls shooting down the shear cliffs thousands of feet above me, one question immediately jumped into my mind: What’s the beer like around here?

Fortunately, I did not have to wait long for an answer, as we took a break at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel and enjoyed an Ahwahnee Amber Ale from Mammoth Brewing. Amber Ale is a often a rather uninspiring style, but maybe that’s because few Amber Ales are as good as this one. We all enjoyed the rich, lightly roasted malt flavors that gave way to a slightly, astringent hop bitterness. Well composed, balanced beers like this are a wonderful thing. I honestly can’t remember a better amber ale than this. (This beer is normally sold as The Real McCoy Amber Ale.)

Later in the Ahwahnee Hotel gift shop, I picked up a six-pack of Yosemite Falls Pale Ale from Snowshoe Brewing in nearby Arnold, CA. Back in the cabin, I found this to be a rather malt forward pale ale, with lots of bread-like character to go with a light orange peel bitterness. I wasn’t blown away by this one, but it did start to grow on me after the third bottle over the course of the weekend. (This beer is usually sold as Snowshoe’s Thompson Pale Ale.)

After poking around the Yosemite Village Store, and a little gift shop and grocery store in Wowona, I picked up a few other offerings from Mammoth Brewing. Their Epic IPA could have passed for a slightly hoppy pale ale, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This brew had the malty backbone of a well done biscuit, which blended well its light citrus and floral hop character. Not what I expected for an IPA, but really nice combination of flavors. And I found Mammoth Brewing’s High Country Pilsner to have a minerally character, with a slight tartness, and subdued hop finish. While not the classic pilsner flavor profile, Linda and I found it quite refreshing. Both the Mammoth’s IPA and Pilsner were unlike the classic styles, yet both were quite unique, memorable, and enjoyable. Wasn’t I talking about virtues of breaking routine and predictability just a few paragraphs ago?

There were some nearby breweries I wanted to visit, but just couldn’t find the time. Of course, when your girlfriend is celebrating one of life’s milestones with her closest friends, and you’re out and about, searching for beer, well, women get emotional about stuff like that. But I’m a pretty lucky guy hanging around a closet hop-head, and we’ve shared many tender moments that often involve me asking about her feelings as I pointed to a beer, with her responding with a heartfelt “Go for it!”.

Babe, here’s to celebrating lots more birthdays with you!