My intention when I started this blog was to review Orange County breweries specifically to highlight the wonderful area I call home. But I’ve had a slight change of plans and my new vision is going to allow me to bring you brewery reviews from all over the country. While there hasn’t been a ton of travel over the last year, going to find a local brewery when we go on trips is one of my favorite things to do. It’s one of the things I feel helps support one of our mantra’s of support small and support local.
With that in mind then, when I went to visit Mammoth Lakes a few months back, I knew I had to venture out and find the local brewery. Luckily for me, Distant Brewing was a literal walk down the street so I was able to visit multiple times.
The owner of the place, Drew Wallace, came from San Diego which is arguably the craft beer capital of the world. So, when he moved up to Mammoth, he decided to take his years of homebrew experience and open up a nano brewery. For those who are unfamiliar with the term nano brewery, the general description is a brewery that brews beer in batches of three barrels or smaller. So, they produce even less than the more commonly known microbreweries.
The small nature of Distant is what I loved because it’s awesome to see people pursue their dreams, no matter the size or scale of what they are doing. Plus, they have some pretty great beers so what’s not to love?
Just based on the fact that we went multiple times in back-to-back days, you can probably already guess that we were fans of their beer. By the end of the trip, we had tried every beer on the menu thanks to their flight tastings. For being a nano brewery, they actually had a pretty good number of beers. With over 13 beers on tap there was plenty of selection to choose from.
Believe it or not, my favorite beer style here was their stouts. Both the Moonburn (coconut stout) and the Dark Mountain (stout with cold brew and Mexican vanilla beans) were so delicious I almost went back a third day to try them again. Don’t get me wrong, I drink and enjoy just about every style of beer out there but it’s rare for me to say my favorite styles at a brewery were dark beers. These were both so smooth and rich, it warmed me up while we sat outside surrounded by snow.
While the stouts were the best style, their Whatever’s Clever Hefeweizen was actually the best beer. True to the style and full of some really great German flavors, this was one I kept stealing sips of from Kelly. Not to be outdone, the Cream Ale infused with cold brew coffee was also an extremely pleasant surprise. I love beers that confuse my pallet by combining flavors or styles that don’t usually go together. This one nailed it.
I do have to be honest though. There were a few beers that fell flat (and no I don’t mean carbonation). Their Red Ale was the first thing I spotted on the menu and was dying to try and it was just OK. I like a deeply malty and earthy taste to my reds and this one just didn’t have the true malty backbone I crave in these beers. It wasn’t bad and I’d get it again but it wasn’t my favorite red. The other one that we were disappointed with was the mango and cherry seltzer. The problem here was that the fruit flavors were so subtle it seemed like you were almost just drinking plain seltzer water. I think upping the flavor of the fruits would make this one really delicious.
Despite these two beers being slightly underwhelming, the beer menu as a whole at Distant was great! Solid IPAs and Pale Ales, out of this world stouts and other great lighter options make this beer menu solid all around.
For someone who lives in Southern California, the novelty of drinking beer with snow on the ground was pretty awesome. This was my first snow brewery and it made the experience better. Granted, it was extremely cold and you had to sit outside because of California COVID restrictions, but Distant had outdoor heaters to make the experience really enjoyable. Couple that with the fun barrel style tables and high-top chairs and the outside vibe was spectacular.
For being a smaller brewery, the inside is actually really cool. I absolutely love the long bar top that I’m sure is the best place to sit when indoor seating is allowed again. They have TVs above the bar with the beer selections and a cool merch wall behind the bar. Arguably the coolest feature inside is the sticker wall they have that people have made in the shape of mountains. I obviously threw up some of our stickers and are thrilled to be a part of the wall.
The outdoor patio was packed and there were multiple dogs outside enjoying the weather. We didn’t bring Parker on this trip but something tells me the Husky in him would have loved being outside with the other dogs in the cold. There was also a dog that belonged to one of the workers there who would follow the workers out every time they came to clean up or deliver food. Dogs make every brewery experience better so Distant gets a plus in my book for this.
The brewery isn’t the flashiest but it doesn’t need to be. The small details like the cool tables, heaters for the cold outside and the mountain vibe are exactly what you want when on vacation.
Distant has a small little kitchen that provides the brewery essentials and then some. For example, they have staples like flatbreads, fries and pretzels (which has an out of this world beer cheese to dip them in). But they also have a really good sandwich menu.
On the list is the Tri Tip Sandwich, BBQ Pulled Pork Panini, Chicken Caesar Wrap and the Bacon Grilled Cheese. I elected to go with the grilled cheese and it was the right decision. This sandwich includes pepperjack, provolone and cheddar cheese jammed in between two pieces of Texas toast and throws bacon in the middle of the cheesy goodness for good measure. It was melted to perfection and the Texas toast was incredible. If the other menu items are even half as good as this one I’m sure they are also phenomenal.
It may not be the biggest menu you’ve ever seen but it’s quality food which is what I crave. Seriously do yourself a favor and get the pretzels. I’m still dreaming of them to this day.
Parker’s Overall Rating: 4/5
Distant Brewing is the exact type of brewery I look for when I travel. It’s small, local and packed with mountain town charm. With multiple great beers on tap and a kitchen with some delicious food, this is a must stop on your next ski trip (or summer trip) to Mammoth!
Paws and drink good beer! Cheers!