Reading Time: 5 minutes read
Words and photos by Benjamin Wilson
Waking up in the bungalows at the Beach House Inn on Pudding Creek in Fort Bragg, CA, reminds me of the first time as a nearly-almost adult that I stayed on the coast. I was 17, I stayed for a few days with my brother and his roommates, and got hit on by some college girl named Summer, who most likely did not know I was under-age. I walked the miles to the beach every day; not the tame, combed sand, Florida / Southern Cali type of beach, but the raw, rugged, majestic central Oregon coast. The type of place you call a “coast” rather than a “beach,” because “beach” makes it sound like there are beach balls and people in cute swimsuits laughing and giggling and waving to the lifeguards who are wearing red shorts and driving ATVs.
This area of coast doesn’t do beach balls; it does sea stacks, marine preserves, gray whales and badass Coast Guard motor lifeboats. Storms that trap you in town for a week, and foggy mornings with the best chowder you’ve ever tasted. Dungeness crabs as big as your torso. And beer; phenomenal beer.
We awake to the distant sound of the surf, and the nearer noise of our bungalow neighbors waking up. Catch some breakfast and coffee, then head north towards Eureka. Between Fort Bragg and Eureka, the driving is amazing, the hiking is fantastic, and it’s quiet and peaceful. Nice; low traffic, clean. We previously made arrangements to interview a brewery in the area, but the directions were unclear, and the person we’re supposed to interview isn’t available when we get there. No worries; Dan at Cooperage told us to hit up The Booth if we had time.
The Booth is a Korean brewery with some crazy-cool artwork and, it turns out, some amazing beers that I would place on par with my favorite Japanese craft brewery, Hitachino Nest. We talk to the guys in the office at The Booth; they tell us to come back in a bit, so we head out for some lunch.
A&J Ichiban is a Zagat-rated sushi joint with some amazing food, in a quiet little corner close to downtown. We head there and have some food. Craft secret; if you suspect you’re going to be killing some IPAs, real, legit ramen is your friend. Sushi is good, as well – but ramen will give you the staying power to imbibe some bigger beers, in addition to offering scads of umami; that delicious, mysterious group of flavors that we often call “savory.” Paired with IPAs, pales, or hop-forward beers of any style, it completes a mouthbomb of flavor for lots of reasons that are science.
Back to The Booth; we speak to Aaron Weshnak, the head brewer, and David Franklin, the operations manager. The Booth doesn’t have a taproom in the US, yet. They bought an old 3BBL Lost Coast brewing system, and push out a metric butt-ton of beer every year. They’re heavily into community involvement and inclusion, and are very counter-culture for a South Korean business. Their motto is “follow your fun,” and they have a distributed decision-making process. They’re a far cry from a hierarchical, formalized business that one might expect.
Now on to the beers! Red Ale. Red Ale is sooo good. Carmelly, there’s some kind of heat in there, derived from the malt. It tastes almost decocted, with that caramel richness. I’d compare it to an Altbier, but it doesn’t have the hybrid fermentation flavor. It feels like there’s some Caramunich in the mix.
Make This Happen #6 – ginger gochugaru witbier. Quite delicious. Gochugaru is red pepper flakes, the one that isn’t gochujang. Delicious(did I mention that it’s delicious?) beer with ginger and red pepper flakes. Completely bereft of that strange, vegetal off-flavor that you often get from a US-based chili beer.
The good dudes load us up with some awesome beers from the local area, and eventually, after giving ourselves plenty of time to sober up, we head north. The road between Eureka and Brookings isn’t the straightest. It’s narrow and winding, and no one should try to make it while intoxicated. Either wait ’til the next day, or drive after sobering up. Then, you can make it to Brookings, OR, to pull into the Beachfront Inn and take beautiful sunset pictures while enjoying another amazing Red Ale.