Beer is essentially an agricultural product. The barley malt and hops come from cultivated crops, and brewers often feed their spent grains to local farmers. But until now, we haven’t heard of a huge working livestock ranch with its own brewery. Ruby Mountain Brewing Company, founded in 1994 south of Wells, Nevada, on US 93, is just such a spot. There, ranchers Steve and Maggie Safford raise Black Angus cattle and grow hay when they’re not brewing up award-winning amber, pale, and darker ales including the delicious Bristlecone Brown Porter.
San Juan Capistrano-based writer (and self-described “road-tripping, beer-sniffing madman”) Lazelle Jones just paid a visit to the 1,500-acre ranch and tipped us off to this diamond in the rough. “South of Wells you can walk in pioneer wagon tracks along what’s known as the Hastings Cutoff,” writes Jones. “Cut into the earth by settlers, including the Donner Party, this deviation from the California Trail took pioneers south of the Great Salt Lake and Nevada’s Ruby Mountains,” Jones explains. The cutoff was touted as a shortcut, potentially saving hundreds of miles on the journey to California. (Modern tourists should work this in while heading from Reno to Salt Lake City or vice versa). If the brewery had been there in wagon train days, of course, we doubt settlers would have made it on to the Golden State, much less resorted to such famously drastic dietary measures.
What are your favorite breweries in cowboy country? Tell us below.