During my undergraduate years at California State University, Chico in the 1980s, I
became a beer snob. Our local brew pub, the Sierra Nevada Brewery offered some tasty options; their Pale Ale was our everyday beer and filled the kegs at most of the parties we threw as well as those we frequented. Their Porter and Stout were reserved for nice dinners or when I wanted something fuller than an ale.
During the summer we’d drink their Big Foot Ale. It’s a barley wine and has a stronger alcohol content than their other brews and is mighty refreshing on those hot August days in the valley. I have many fond memories of tubing the Sacramento river with an ice chest (or two) filled with Big Foot.
Mid-winter they would release their Celebration Ale. It was a seasonal favorite, especially on those cold, wet nights in December and January. Curling up by a fire with a bottle of Celebration Ale was a real treat. Now they have many more brews; I’ve tried a few such as their Torpedo Extra IPA and Summerfest, but I prefer my old favorites.
I was reminded of these brews today when I read Ben Robinson, Andy Kryza and Matt Lynch’s “Every State in the US Ranked by it’s Beer” on Thrillist. One of my retirement plans is to visit nearby microbrew pubs while Mr. Desert visits MLB ballparks across the country. Until then, I can’t say much about their rankings except to say I think they nailed the top 5: Oregon, California, Colorado, Michigan and Washington. But I’d flip Michigan and Washington.
I’ve had some good beers in the Northeast, too. I’ve had beers by Alchemist Brewery, Trout River Brewing Co and Long Trail Brewing Co in Vermont; by Shipyard Brewing Company, Gritty’s McDuff’s, Oak Pond Brewery and Sea Dog Brewing Company in Maine; Smuttynose Brewing Company, Portsmouth Brewing Company and The Flying Goose in New Hampshire; and John Harvard, Cambridge Brewing Company and Rock Bottom Brewery in Massachusetts. And the list goes on.
I liked a number of Dogfish Head Brews from Delaware, and I put away a number of brews by Louisiana’s Abita Brewing Company when I was in New Orleans a few years ago. And my good friend’s husband introduced me to every microbrew in Hawaii when we visited there. Arizona’s locals such as Four Peaks Brewing Company, SanTan Brewing Company, Oak Creek Brewing Company, Prescott Brewing Company are now among my go-to beers.
But beerwise, nothing has topped my recent trip to the Portland, Oregon area. I tried Full Sail Ale and Amber, Mt Hood’s Multorporter Smoked Porter and Cloudcap Amber Ale, some Big Horse Ale and Fire on the Mountain’s Electric Mud. I need to spend more time there, for sure!