Beer dork rule to live by: if you are anywhere within 200 miles of Kernville, California, it is necessary to take a detour from whatever else it is your are doing and visit the Kern River Brewing Company. This will always be a good decision.
Coming down the I-392 from a weekend camping at Rock Creek, I decided it was necessary to drive nearly three hours out of the way just to get some of that sweet, heavenly Kern River Brewing Company nectar (after all, it had been nearly a year since my last visit). So back into the mountains I drove, for over an hour until I hit Lake Isabella and the tiny river rafting town of Kernville, a seemingly unlikely venue for such a prolific brewery. The parking lot, as usual, was full of shiny Harleys and inside was a full house of everybody-knows-everybody locals. I love that this place is still not on the radar for most people even though their IPAs are fucking killing it in competition. Last year, Just Outstanding took gold medals at a San Diego festival (didn’t they invent the modern version of the style?) and Citra came out of nowhere to take gold at the Great American Beer Festival.
Though bummed at myself for not thinking to bring one of the bajillion KRBC growlers I have sitting at home (okay, it’s more like 10, but still, that’s a lot for a brewery that’s 4 hours from home), I was more than glad to pay another fee and add to my collection with a growler of one of the few seasonals I’ve never tried–Dirty Hippie Imperial Red. Sweet Jesus does Kyle know how to make amazing hop profiles. This one was all Just Outstanding in the nose and all Sequoia Red bitterness in the finish–a harmonious blend between their two solid year-round beers. Apparently, it has only been available in pints and growlers at the brewery (no kegs), but the bartender mentioned they would be bottling it in the next few weeks.
Then I ate my blue cheese burger, sampled my favorite root beer and started the long drive back down the hill to Bakersfield. Yes, going to KRBC is worth driving through Bakersfield.