‘Things are coming together’: Brewery taking off in Tahoe City
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Growing up in the farming and hospitality industries, David Renkert knew someday he would open up a place like the Tahoe National Brewing Company in Tahoe City.
His experiences in those industries, plus a tour of duty in culinary school along with assisting in a brewery start-up in Oakland, prepared him for his most recent venture.
“I really love hospitality. I’ve done it since I was a little kid,” Renkert said. “I’ve always been the guy that’s hosted a bunch of parties. When my parents went away, I hosted a steak and lobster party at home (which got me into trouble), but it’s always been that way. I’ve always enjoyed that, and it’s a big part of why I’m doing this.”
While his experience had served him well in most aspects of opening up the business, finding the location (and getting the business open) was not the easiest of tasks.
“It took about six years – two and a half years just to get the lease,” added Renkert.
He looked at places all over North Tahoe from the old Steamers location in Kings Beach, to a shopping center in Truckee. But none of them had what his current location had: a lakefront view.
While views of Tahoe are beautiful, and a bonus when it comes to restaurant amenities, the building, according to Renkert, needed plenty of work to match those views.
“We gutted the whole thing. It needed it,” Renkert said. “We took out four to five tractor trailer dumpster loads.”
While his explanation of what was encountered paints a picture that certainty wasn’t pleasant at the time, the finished product was well worth the effort and is a great addition to the food and beverage scene in Tahoe City.
Renkert admits that the restaurant, which opened with takeout in February of this year and added indoor-seating in April, didn’t really take off until the addition of Food and Beverage Director Kevin Liu.
“We got lucky with Kevin,” Renkert said. “He took this place to a level I couldn’t have imagined.”
As Renkert puts it, that level is somewhere in between a French bistro and a man cave. From a ground chuck and short rib burger on one end to a 32-ounce dry-aged tomahawk steak on the other, the restaurant is serving up food that Renkert wants to be upscale, but not pretentious.
Renkert added, “Food is supposed to be fun. You’re supposed to enjoy eating and it should be really good. So how do you balance those things? That’s really what we’re playing with. He (Kevin) made bao steamed buns and did a scallop and pork belly the other day – amazing!”
The plan for the restaurant is to change the menu up every two to three months and while some menu items will stay, items like bone marrow and steak tartare will be making their way to the menu in August when they turn the page to represent more Italian fare. In the winter you might see more warming dishes like French cassoulets.
Regardless, Renkert loves the idea of consistently bringing in new flavors and changing it up. He believes it’s good to support creativity and for everyone to keep learning, including the staff.
The Beer (and beverages)
On the brewery front, they have produced around 15 styles so far, pouring anywhere from 10 to 12 of their own beer at a given time, in addition to gluten free or non-alcoholic options they also offer. The most popular so far: their Philly Amber.
You won’t find tons of options that boast big, hoppy styles. What you will find is an array of beers, including German or English styles that pair really well with food. But, in addition to beer, you will also find some rather unique options.
“We’re using a modern technique to create infusions,” Renkert said. “We’re packing the keg full of fresh fruit and pressurizing it and letting it sit. As it releases pressure, it pulls everything out of the fruit and you get really fine and delicate and nuanced flavors.”
Flavors that are similar to a Chambord (raspberry liqueur) and a Limoncello that they are using to sweeten up their sour beers creating what they refer to as their “summer sippers.”
They are also crafting their own ginger ale, which is not only a great option for the kids, but does wonders in a Moscow Mule.
While the business is open for full service, they are still ironing out a few bugs with the building. They have yet to launch their live music (even though the sound system is in place), or given that big push with a grand opening announcement.
Even without all that, word of mouth has been great amongst the patrons and Renkert has had locals thanking him for what it means to the Tahoe City community.
“I’m a Tahoe City guy. I want to be in Tahoe City,” Renkert said. “Now that we have a team behind us, and things are coming together, now I feel we have a story to share. When you have to keep grinding away, after all the swearing it took to get here, it’s nice to hear appreciation.”
Tahoe National Brewing Co. is located at 850 N. Lake Blvd., Ste. 21 in Tahoe City (behind Safeway). For more information, visit them online at tahoenational.beer.
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