In Pursuit of Ale: Treading the local brew trails

The Depot

Adventure + Beer. These are two ideas that are becoming synonymous with Reno/Tahoe. And, when done safely, they are happy companions. The brew scene is booming, and we were only too thrilled to explore the possibilities. While the beer is always satisfying, the adventure is made to order. Here is how to explore the local brew trails to fit your desired level of escapade. We’ve rated the trails from Chill to Moderate to Intense based on activity level and self-sufficiency.


South Shore

On the south side of the lake you’ll find the South Shore Beer Trail, rated Moderate. This 5-mile trek will take you through all of South Lake Tahoe along Highway 50. The trail begins at South Lake Brewing Company, a popular hangout that is dog friendly, relaxed, and a good place for a game of cornhole. Their one-year celebration block party is coming up in May!

Moving down the road you’ll discover all the local favorites: Lake Tahoe AleWorX, which features 30 serve-yourself taps; Cold Water Brewery and Grill, the brewery pioneers of South Lake; Sidellis Lake Tahoe Brewery and Restaurant, these guys will ferment just about anything; and The Brewery at Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe’s original brewpub.;;;

Lake Tahoe AleWorX

The trail wraps up at Stateline Brewery and Restaurant at Heavenly Village (Or, go the other direction. It’s your adventure. We don’t judge.) This is more or less a straight path, so we recommend walking, biking, or wrangling a designated driver. There are several bike rental shops all over town, or you can hop on a Lime Bike. Just be sure to arrange a lift or a Lyft back to where you started. A map can be found at;;

Don’t miss the 2nd annual Tahoe BrewFest returning on June 2! This beer-tastic event is your one-stop shop to sample brews from all over the basin. There will also be food, live music and fun games, and best of all the proceeds go to support the Boys & Girls Club of Lake Tahoe.



Seeking more bike and brew combos? Head up to Reno and check out the Reno Brew Bike, rated Chill to Moderate, depending entirely on how much your friends pedal. This is a party bike. That’s right, a bike that seats up to 15 passengers, wisely steered by your brew tour guide.

There are 21 bars and 3 types of tours to choose from. No, you can’t go to ALL of them, but you can reserve the bike for a private party or hop on with an open group and get to know some fellow adventurers. Optional bike stops include Lead Dog Brewing Co., a dog-friendly brewery known for their wild beer flavors; Mellow Fellow GastroPub, with 40 rotating beers on tap; and IMBIB Custom Brews, a regular award winner and local favorite.;;

The Depot

If you would rather take the Reno brew scene into your own hands and save a few bucks with a self-guided tour, offers an online Reno Tahoe Brew Map. This is modality of choice. No straight, chronological paths here. There are great places to visit all over, and as long as you’re responsible, then how you map it is up to you, rated Moderate.  Other great Reno breweries to consider: Brasserie Saint James, winner of the “2014 best mid-size brewpub and brewers in the nation” at The Great American Beer Festival; The Lincoln Lounge, a cozy “professor’s bar” featuring 30 drafts and 60 bottles to choose from; Piñon Bottle Company, who like to keep it interesting with a mystery tap night and beer tasting classes; and – a must-visit – The Depot Craft Brewery and Distillery. Located in the old headquarters of the Nevada-California-Oregon Railway, The Depot is a brewery and distillery (bonus!) dedicated to fine ingredients and traditional craftsmanship.;; @pinonbottle


North Lake

If this is too tame for your adventure level, then head to the north side of the lake. The North Lake Tahoe Ale Trail(s), rated Intense, are not for couch potatoes. Here it’s best to pair outdoor fun with après adventure. Spend the day hiking, biking or paddling, and then cozy up with a frosty beverage.

Shirley Canyon Trail is beautiful hike featuring waterfalls, boulders, and Shirley Lake. There’s even a seasonal tram at the top that you can ride back down. Then let the feeling in your legs return at PlumpJack Café and Bar at Squaw Valley Inn, and enjoy new-American cuisine delight where the beers are never boring.

Alibi Ale Works

For serious road bikers the lake is the trail and the trail is the lake. Take the day and circle the 72-mile circumference of Lake Tahoe. Enjoy spectacular views and challenging climbs, and then put your feet up for a well-deserved brew at Alibi Ale Works. This little gem is one of the most popular breweries in Tahoe. Nearly every bar in the basin has a tap dedicated to Alibi.

For some enjoyable mud on your face, take a mountain biking adventure down the famous Flume Trail, known for some of the best views in Tahoe. And right at trail’s end, waiting to wet your whistle, is the Tunnel Creek Café, no driving needed.

There are water trails too, and you can kayak or standup paddle board your way to a relaxing beverage. Launch from Crystal Bay or Hidden Beach and enjoy the beautiful shoreline views. Then head over to Cutthroat’s Saloon at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, it’s as old-timey as it sounds, and they pride themselves on their rare and seasonal beer selection.

An interactive map of all trails and corresponding ale destinations can be found at

However, if you’re all about the beer and not at all about the adventure, then turn the dial way down to Super Chill and book a ride with Tahoe Brew Tours. You can choose between a North Shore or a South Shore tour. This is the complete package for beer-tasting luxury, with a designated driver and guide, appetizers, and behind-the-scenes tours with local brewmasters. You barely even have to stand up.

When adventure meets beer, you’ve had great day in Reno/Tahoe. Just be sure to drink and play responsibly. Cheers!


By: Rae & Troy Matthews