Find locally made beer at new microbrewery
Lassen Ale Works bartender Joanne Emerson draws a glass of ale, one of the brewery’s six specialty drinks made on site.Photos by Ruth Ellis
June 5, 2012 — Susanville is home to a new microbrewery where people can stop in for lunch or grab a locally brewed ale with friends.
Lassen Ale Works at the Pioneer Saloon offers six beers on tap — Almanor Amber, Bizz Johnson Blonde Ale, Eagle Lake IPA, Rooptown Red Ale, Uptown Brown Ale and Pioneer Porter — that are all brewed on site. Margaret Liddiard, Mark Pfenning, Erik Jefferts and Julie Howard own the business and have all become part of the Lassen County community.
According to Liddiard, Lassen Ale Works has two brewing and three fermentation tanks, as well as six 300-gallon cold storage tanks in the basement, where the beer is pumped directly from the draft tower to the bar.
Jefferts has been involved in start-up breweries and is Lassen Ale Works brewmaster.
One advantage the area provides for the brewery is the water, which Liddiard described as fantastic for beer making.
She explained that throughout the year, other places might switch the water source, making it difficult to make a consistently good beer.
Mike Smith takes a hamburger offered by Lassen Ale Works server Ray Avenmarg, while Carolyn Smith looks on during a May 24 grand opening celebration.
She said Susanville has the same water at the same temperature year-round.
Patrons will also findseasonal specialty beers, also brewed on site, as well as beers from other craft breweries, bottled beer, a California wine list and a full service bar. For coffee lovers, there is also an espresso machine.
Due to the liquor license, Lassen Ale Works is only open to people 21 years and older, but the plan is to openits neighbor The Grand Café, as a family restaurant in the next several months.
If people are wanting good food to go with their drink or even just a place to grab a bite, Lassen Ale Works also offers what Liddiard describes as “really warm, comfortable, brew pub food,” that is all prepared in house.
Menu items include iceberg lettuce wedges with pork belly, oven-dried tomatoes and blue cheese vinaigrette dressing, slow roasted lamb dip sandwiches, hamburgers, with fresh ground meat, and fish and chips, which Liddiard said seems to be popular.
Although Lassen Ale Works doesn’t take reservations, Liddiard does recommend that groups of six or more call in advance so staff can get tables together.
Lassen Ale Works staff includes a crew of servers, prep cooks, chefs, dishwashers and bartenders, who Liddiard said are almost all locals and are “making us look like rock stars.”
Getting Lassen Ale Works up and running has been a year-long process and began when Liddiard and Pfenning made a spontaneous visit tothe area.
Liddiard explained they were returning to Oregon after visiting Jefferts and Howard in Denver, Colo. and on their way back, Pfenning suggested they swing through Susanville.
They stopped by The Pioneer to get a drink andsaw the For Sale sign at The Grand. They called owner George Sargent who met with them the next day and gave them a tour.
Liddiard said, “Once we saw the building, we thought it would be a perfect brew pub.”
However, it would have been a smaller production, as there would have only been room for an eight-barrel system and would have compromised the use of the back room as a dining area for larger parties or meetings because that is where the brew equipment would have been placed.
During negotiations, Liddiard said The Pioneer closed and a lease became available.
Having a brewery in Susanville might help draw visitors to the area. Liddiard said microbrewery tourism is starting to take off like wine tourism where people go to different wineries for wine tasting.
“Beer is every bit as complicated and nuanced as wine,” Liddiard said.
Lassen Ale Works is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
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