Eel River - We stopped off at this place in Fortuna while on our way to our hotel in Eureka. I got the sausage and sauerkraut plate, and that was pretty tasty. Kirsti got a bowl of some kind of cheesy, potato-bacon, etcetera soup that was really good. (I got a small cup of it for myself as well.) As for the beer, I started off with their Triple Exhultation. This was a really strong beer, and I determined that maybe it wasn't a good way to start. It was really hoppy and sweet with an almost caramel-like aftertaste to it. It was also about 9% alcohol. I suppose it would have been fine if that was to be my only beer, but I also got their amber lager, and honestly it tasted a little off. I'm well-versed enough in beer though to know that it was probably due to the fact that I started with such a strong ale. I should have done things the other way around.
Six Rivers - I was really eager to try this place, as they happened to have a chili ale. I've been toying with the idea of making one myself, and I wanted to give this one a try before I made my final decision. (I had emailed the brewmaster a week before to get some valuable advice on how to make one.) After trying theirs, I've decided to go for it. I've had other chili beers before. One was a habenero pilsner, which was good but only in small doses. The other was something I bought at Bevmo a while back. With that one, I liked the taste of the chili, but the beer itself was kind of Corona-esque (in other words, crappy).
The chili ale at Six Rivers was as good as I imagine something like that can be. It was basically their wheat beer with some chili in it. It added a nice flavor without being too extreme, and it perfectly complimented my grilled halibut tacos.
For desert, I had their Oreo Cookie cheesecake that I washed down with their stout. I used to not be such a big fan of stouts, but I think that I'm starting to come around.
Lost Coast - Unlike the other two places, I've had some of Lost Coast's beer before. To be specific, I had their Downtown Brown, which is a mighty tasty brown ale. At the brewpub, I tried their Raspberry Brown. I find myself still conflicted about fruit beers. For the most part, I think that they're not very good and somewhat reminiscent of cough syrup. This one was a bit different though as it was a fruit flavor in a dark ale rather than the usual pairing with a wheat beer. Basically, it was good enough for me to finish without any problems, but I don't think that I'd try it again. I still think that perhaps the best pairing of fruit and beer would be Pyamid's Apricot Wheat.
As for the food, I had their turkey burger which was really flavorful and juicy. On the side, I got a really nice Caesar salad. After downing the raspberry brown, I had their stout. It was pretty darned good as well.
Overall, I'm starting to notice that almost all craft breweries have the usual suspects which consist of a pale ale, a wheat beer, an IPA, a stout and/or porter, a blonde ale and/or pilsner, and then they'll have something unique that you don't find very often. The biggest exception seems to be Gordon Biersch, which specializes in lagers. Also, Pyramid, while offering a lot of the usual suspects, specializes in wheat beers. I have this feeling that there's some new angle out there that somebody's going to jump on one of these days, and it should be interesting when it happens.