Balance. A fifty fifty split that makes everything work. Healthy food to non-healthy food, exercise to relaxation, work to play, whatever. Too much in either direction can really drive you off the rails, but the perfect amount of each makes everything just right. This type of balance is what prompted the creation of All About Après. Get out there and earn it in as many ways possible then celebrate those accomplishments with great friends, food and drinks.
Fifty Fifty Brewing an Après Ski Standout
When I first reached out to the owner's of the Fifty Fifty Brewing to gauge their interest in participating in this piece, I had no idea that they shared similar ideals. Despite them being all the way across the country, I had heard great things about their beers and knew that, given their location in the notoriously fun ski town of Truckee, they drew a great après ski crowd at the brew pub. Beyond that I didn't know much else. Since that time, I have come to find out that, not only are Fifty Fifty's beers as advertised, the brewery and all that they are involved in, stems directly from the notion that balance in everything is the prerequisite to success.
From Engineers to Craft Brewery Owners
Prior to opening Fifty Fifty Brewing, owners Andy and Alicia Barr were engineers in the corporate tech world for 10 years. Not that I have any idea what that is like, but tech engineers turned brewers doesn't seem like a natural path to success. However, this husband and wife duo wanted to buck the trend and when they decided that it was time for a change they looked to their passion as the spark to ignite the fire. "We loved good beer and good food, and realized that every vacation we took, we ended up hanging out at a brewpub," says Alicia. So in 2005 they left corporate America, moved to Truckee and decided to open their own place with great beer and great food. Thus Fifty Fifty Brewing was born on the premise of balance. "Play hard, work hard and give back," Alicia says. I recently caught up with Alicia to find out more about Fifty Fifty Brewing, their food and beers and their philanthropic efforts in the community and beyond.
Chatting With Fifty Fifty Brewing's Owner, Alicia Barr
All About Après: What is the inspiration behind the brewery and how has that helped define your path of development?
Alicia Barr: Our entire philosophy is built around the concept of balance. Balance of work and play, hops and barley, beer and food, profit and philanthropy, and so much more. Our beers are designed with that in mind, as is the way we’ve built our company. We live in the giant playground that is Tahoe, and work-life balance is critical for our staff and the way we run our business. We also partner and collaborate with a number of local non-profits, including our local cancer center, the Truckee Trails Foundation, the Humane Society, Protect Our Winters, and Achieve Tahoe, an adaptive ski program for people with disabilities. Play hard, work hard and give back!
AAA: Was an inclusion of a brew pub part of the original plan or did that come about after?
AB: Our very first business plan had us brewing beer in a small warehouse and self distributing. Being engineers, we ran spreadsheets and pro formas up the wazoo, and determined opening a full pub was a better option, and much more fun. Having a pub gave us a direct interface with our customers, and was a much more personal experience with beer and our community.
AAA: How does food play into the beer that you brew or vice versa? Does one inspire the creation of the other?
AB: Both our Brewmaster and our Chef are pretty much given free reign for creativity, but you can tell they inspire one another. Our Chef loves beer, and our Brewmaster loves food. It’s definitely not a structured collaboration, it’s more organic and free flowing.
AAA: Do you have a signature dish?
AB: One of our signature dishes that is a huge apres ski hit is our Seared Ahi BLT.
AAA: That being said, is there a relationship between your après ski crowd and the food you cook or the beers that you brew? If so, can you explain?
AB: Absolutely. Our 267 Session IPA is designed just for hop fans (which is most of us) after a big day on the mountain. Hoppy, refreshing, and low alcohol so you can have a few without wiping you out. We also partnered with POW® to brew a lightly hopped lager for those who don’t want quite the hop bomb, but still something with flavor and that is the perfect après ski beer. Food wise, pub food is a natural for apres ski. Who doesn’t crave a beer and a burger or pizza after a big day on the slopes? We have 100% grass fed beef for the best possible burger experience, and our pizza dough is made from scratch in house.
AAA: Why is Fifty Fifty a good time when it comes to après ski? Do you do anything special to attract a good crowd post pow?
AB: We don’t do any targeted paid advertising or marketing - our approach has always been more grass roots. We sponsor a number of events and non-profits that share our values and passion - which naturally translates to an active après crowd. We were also thrilled to recently be named in the USA Today Top Ten apres breweries!
AAA: What is the overall vibe of Fifty Fifty as it pertains to après?
AB: Let’s just say that on any given day in the winter, about 1/3rd of our guests are still in their ski gear. :) We’re only 15 minutes from Northstar, and 20 minutes from Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows - so we’re kind of a natural for anyone living in or staying in Truckee.
AAA: What is your relationship like with the mountains that you are near? Do they feature any of your beers? Do you collaborate on events with them?
AB: You can find Fifty Fifty beer at any number of bars or shops at both Northstar, Squaw Valley, Homewood and Tahoe Donner. We’ve done several movie events with TGR at Squaw Valley, and we’ve also partnered with the Executive Chef at Northstar for beer dinners on the mountain, as well as some fun food/beer events in Truckee.
AAA: With part of the proceeds of Storm Chaser going to POW, can you elaborate on your relationship with them? Why was it important to brew a beer connected to a ski industry giant like POW?
AB: The founder of POW, Jeremy Jones, is a local Truckee guy and a good friend of ours. Our daughters go to school together and play lacrosse together. He and Tiffany are incredible members of our community, and give back in so many ways. It’s also a cause that’s very near and dear to our heart. As an organization, it’s always been very important to us to put our money and actions where our mouth is.
AAA: What makes Storm Chaser such a great après ski beer?
AB: It’s super crisp and refreshing and finishes clean, yet also has a subtle hop flavor to it that’s delicious without being bitter. When the first cans came off the line, one of our brewers popped one open and said “I could totally crush one of these on Summit chair”.
* All photos are courtesy of Fifty Fifty Brewing.