The Big Bear Brewing Co. is an oasis of tasty microbrewed goodness in a wasteland of Anheuser-Busch and Coors saturation. Their Kodiac Belgium Dubbel won a gold medal at the 2002 American Beer Fest, and the brewery has also earned a half dozen other national awards for fermented excellence since it opened in 1996. Brewmaster Matthew Cox has covered all the bases, offering ales in wheat and red, pale and brown, even a root beer for the kiddies and a Polar Light for the carb-counting or calorie conscious. They also alternate specials, shifting from different fruity flavors to Irish Stout and even an Espresso Cream Stout for the caffeine-addicted. If you're hungry, there's a full menu with pub fare and yuppified steak-house faves; a little bit on the expensive side ($9 for a burger and fries), but tasty nonetheless. You can tell you're in a brew pub from the décor: antique beer posters and black-and-white photos of the brewing process from back in the day. The best part about the Big Bear is that the staff is friendly and knowledgeable and that all the beer is made on-site. No need for born-on dates here; the beer goes from fermenting tank to serving tank, on to the tap and into your glass, then straight down your gullet.
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