Across The Universe: Craft brewing at Tahoe-Truckee has plenty of ‘hop’portunity |

Across The Universe: Craft brewing at Tahoe-Truckee has plenty of ‘hop’portunity

This past week, I flew to Denver for two days of meetings with several editors and managers within Swift Communications, our parent company, to talk about all things news — from content management to audience engagement to digital reporting tools and much more.

Blah, blah, blah — let’s talk about beer.

After the meetings, my girlfriend and I traveled to the Denver-Fort Collins area for the weekend to enjoy some culture and check out the beyond-thriving craft brewery scene in the state.

The highlight was Saturday, when we took a 90-minute tour of New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins. The behemoth brewer currently ranks as the fourth-largest craft brewery in America, and this year it celebrates its 25th anniversary since founder Jeff Lebesch opened shop in 1991.

There are too many cool things to talk about regarding the tour and the brewery (which is 100 percent employee-owned these days) to list here, so we won’t get into all the fun specifics.

But one thing I found particularly fascinating was the culture and scene in and around the brewery’s property. For the couple hours we were there, we saw hundreds of people and pets (the patio area was dog-friendly) of all ages enjoying a warm Saturday afternoon.

Now, to be perfectly clear, this does not mean kids were drinking and that parents were promoting that illegal behavior. What I’m saying is the brewery boasted a family friendly vibe, and so long as everyone acts and drinks responsibly (I saw nothing otherwise), it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

Later, we visited Odell Brewing Company, also in Fort Collins, and I was again taken aback with its family and pet-friendly nature.

The place was packed, and aside from responsible adults sipping flights of craft beer and taking in the day, families also were enjoying themselves with plenty of kid-friendly games and toys to keep everyone occupied.

We visited other locations as well in Denver and Fort Collins, and anyone who’s been to either (or, for that matter, most cities in Colorado) knows just how popular the craft brewing scene is. I knew that was the case, but I was pleasantly surprised at how inviting and fun the locations were, and how open-armed their approach was at involving everyone (again, to enjoy themselves responsibly).

Here at Truckee and Lake Tahoe, we’ve begun a slow walk toward embracing the craft brewery movement, and if planning and growth are done in a responsible way (both in terms of the environment and with consumption), I see tremendous opportunity for this region.

With wonderful locations like FiftyFifty Brewing in Truckee, Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company in Tahoe City and Truckee, and Alibi Ale Works in Incline Village, among others, we’ve got a real good base from which to work. These locations are well organized, and they promote a fun atmosphere. And, they’re only getting better and are now poised for bigger success.

What I saw in Colorado were locations that brought people and animals of all ages together.

To me, that’s an important thing for any community to have, so as long as we do it the responsible way at Truckee-Tahoe, I feel we can fully embrace the ‘hop’-portunity.

Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. He may be reached for comment at

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