When You Think of Beer…
What do you think? Do visions of tailgates and BBQ’s come to mind? Do you imagine bros enjoying the game? Are women a part of this picture? The truth is this: When it comes to adult drinks, wine is mostly marketed to women and beer is mostly marketed to men. To me, it seems like the beer community is missing out on half of the population, but luckily, many women love craft beer as much as men anyway.
In this post, we’ve got a West-Coast, Texan, and Midwest blogger all discussing their unique craft beer communities and the beers that we think really make their neck of the woods stand out. Every region is different. So, we’ve each picked three or four of our favorites to share with you and our personal experiences with exploring our craft beer community.
As with most things, this post is all our opinion. Are there dozens and dozens of amazing brews in each region of the U.S.? YES! So, if you love these beers, great! And if you don’t, be sure to tell us your favorite beer where you live. We all love trying new ones! 🙂
Patio Drinkin’ on the West-Coast- Kenzy
Craft beer is a huge part of the culture here on the west coast, it seems like you can’t throw a rock without hitting a microbrewery. In 2014, there were 281 breweries located in Washington state alone, and that doesn’t even account for Oregon and California! We’ve got all kinds of beer centered events, and every type of beer festival you could imagine, and the people come out in droves for every one of them. If you don’t brew beer yourself, chances are you have a couple friends that do. If for some crazy reason you aren’t a fan of beer, we’ve got you covered with a booming cider industry! Although in my opinion, no one straight up “doesn’t like beer”, they just haven’t tried the right ones yet.
As I’m sure is the case with everywhere else in the country, beer brings people together here. I know the rest of the country has nice weather, and I know that technically we have to include California in “west coast”, who by default has great weather. However, no one has nice weather quite like we do here in Washington. There is absolutely nothing better than finding a brewery with a great outdoor space, and enjoying a cold beer in the sun with your friends in the summer. Especially when you’ve waited almost ten months for the it to come out! When the sun comes out, Washington flocks to its breweries.
This brings us to the part where I list off a few of my favorite west coast beers, which honestly is the hardest list ever to narrow down. If I absolutely had to pick my top three of the moment though, I think I would have to go with following (in no particular order):
2×4 DIPA from Melvin Brewing: Bellingham WA.
I’m just going to start off and say that this beer is dangerous. It comes in at 10%, and it is incredibly drinkable. Despite being a double IPA, it is smooth as butter (seriously though, it tastes buttery to me), and not overwhelmingly hoppy. It is crisp and citrus-y, and exactly what I want to be drinking on a warm sunny day, or a cold winter night…really I just super enjoy everything about this beer!
Consecration from Russian River Brewing: Santa Rosa CA.
You can’t make a list of west coast beers, and not mention Russian River Brewing. It is literally the most award winningest microbrewery in the country. Everyone tends to know them for their famous IPA, Pliny the Elder. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE me some Pliny, but I think that Russian River’s strength lies in their sours. The Consecration is a dark ale, aged for 4-8 months in cabernet sauvignon barrels with black currants, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus. In laymen’s terms, a ton of good things. This sour has flavors of chocolate truffle, spices, currants, and tobacco. I personally get lots of brown sugar notes out of it as well. On top of all of that, it is of course, very tart. Sours are definitely an acquired taste (so I’ve been told, I’ve loved them from the get go), but so worth the effort.
Fireside Chat from 21st Amendment: San Francisco, CA.
I know, I know, its the middle of summer. Why am I dreaming of a winter warmer? Well, if you’ve ever had a Fireside Chat, then you would know why. I have never met a cozier tasting beer. The Fireside Chat is winter spiced ale, and they are not kidding around when they say spiced. This beer is like Christmas in a glass. I think most people look forward to things like pumpkin spice, and egg nog lattes in the fall and winter. Well, this is what I look forward to, this is my winter drink.
Photo credit for Kenzy: @kierstentakesphotos
Drinking Local in Texas- Jennifer
I can’t stress enough the importance of drinking local. When you support local you’re helping someone keep their dream alive; you’re making jobs available, and bringing diversity to your city.
In San Antonio, we’re fortunate to have a plethora of craft beer options with Austin and the Hill Country areas only being a short road trip away if we want to visit a different watering hole. Most breweries in town offer tours and open tasting rooms hours either daily or on the weekends. We also have many supermarkets and specialty stores that carry local drink selections.
Like a lot of other people, my palate often changes with the seasons but right now I’m personally enjoying these four libations.
Austin Eastciders Blood Orange Cider: Austin, Texas
Austin Eastciders Blood Orange Cider – crisp, refreshing, think of biting into a blood orange and sucking its sweet nectar. Ok, was that too graphic? The Blood Orange Cider is one of five selections from Austin Eastcider’s lineup of their Original Cider, Texas Honey Cider, Hopped Cider, and Pineapple Cider. All five are great but this summer I’ve been gravitating toward the Blood Orange Cider.
Located in the weirdest city in Texas, Austin Eastciders can be found at any bar in Austin as well as San Antonio.
Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout: Conroe, Texas
Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout – robust, heavy, insert all other defining features of a stout, and you have the Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout. I’ll usually pick up a six pack of these during the cooler months in Texas. After all, it’s not every day that I can enjoy a stout in 105-degree weather.
Located in Conroe, TX, the Southern Star Brewery is a pretty far drive from San Antonio but they distribute all over Texas.
Real Ale White: Blanco, Texas
Real Ale White – imagine going for a brisk jog and hitting your taste buds with the most refreshing drink ever. That’s White. It’s just the remedy that I constantly need to save me from the relentless heat during summer. Have I mentioned how hot it is in Texas?
The brewery is in a little town called Blanco, TX, which is only a 35 minute away from San Antonio. In recent years they’ve expanded their brewery to include an upstairs tasting room area and outdoor picnic setup. Every year the throw an anniversary party with special brews on tap and an Oktoberfest party with steins included.
Live Oak Hefeweizen: Del Valle, Texas
Live Oak Hefeweizen – if you like your brews to have more of an earthy, fruity aftertaste to them, this is the way to go. It’s light enough to enjoy any time of the year and has just the right amount of flavor to drink as a session beer.
Live Oak Brewery is in Del Valle, TX, a short distance away from Austin. They have a large Biergarten area and an indoor taproom.
Unique in the Midwest- Katie
The craft beer community in the Midwest is as unique and diverse as its people. While many refer to the region as the “fly-by-states,” if you’re a craft beer lover, I’ll bet you’ve got a Midwest brewery or two on your must-visit list. There’s a good reason for that! Many breweries here have a long-standing reputation of innovation and longevity. The Midwest has beer-centric cities like Chicago, Indianapolis, and Grand Rapids that constantly turn out new and exciting brews. Here are a few of my favorites from that really stand out in sea of already amazing brews.
Goose Island Bourbon County: Chicago, Illinois
If you’re in an area that is lucky enough to get a small shipment of Bourbon County, then you know that “Black Friday” has a whole new meaning, and it has nothing to do with waiting in lines at malls to score a great deal. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still going to be waiting in line, but it won’t be to save money. It’s Bourbon County release day. Bourbon County is credited as the first-ever bourbon-barrel aged stout. Besides a small bacteria-fueled hiccup in 2015, this beer definitely lives up to the hype.
Goose Island Bourbon County has a signature creamy bourbon-barrel taste with a smooth finish. Don’t be thrown off by the pour- its very viscous and almost pours like chocolate sauce. With variations of the original like “Regal Rye,” “Coffee,” and this year’s “Northwoods” (blueberry and almond, sign me up), there’s something for everyone.
Upland Iridescent: Bloomington, Indiana
Now let’s swing your taste buds to the complete other end of the spectrum and discuss sour beers. It seems as if lately they’ve taken a front seat in some tap rooms. Upland’s Sours are so popular that you have to enter a lottery to buy some varieties. It’s well worth the extra step as they are often made with unique ingredients available only in the area, like the hard-to-handle paw-paw fruit.
Iridescent is a sour beer that Upland is now distributing and it is as complex as it sounds. A blonde sour aged in wine barrels with apricot and ginger screams “summer in a bottle- with a kick.” It’s sour like your favorite sour candy- enough to make you pucker up! Upland’s sours are a true testament to the old-meets-new mentality that pushes Midwest beers to new heights.
Founders All Day IPA: Grand Rapids, Michigan
An important aspect to essential craft beer is the craft beer that manages to transcend small-batch and hit mass-production so it is readily available to the every-day beer drinker. If you make the trek to Grand Rapids, a visit to Founders is well worth the trip itself (trust me). A tour around the brewery will show you that, although Founders originally got its name for their high-gravity beers, they know where their money comes from.
Founders’ success with mass production helped lead the way for other craft breweries in the Midwest to do the same. It lets us know that yes, an IPA with a high IBU can appeal to many people, especially since it finishes so smoothly and has a low ABV. When it’s cold, the bitterness is refreshing and the ABV makes it “sessionable” so you can drink it all day. Catch your local cool mom and dad drinking it at the next tailgate.
Do You Love Craft Beer?
If you are already a craft beer lover, do you have an essential craft beer that you think defines the region where you live?
If you haven’t gotten into the craft beer scene yet, what’s holding you back? We’ve all been there and will share our tips.
Katie, Jennifer, and Kenzy
About the Authors
Mackenzie is the fashion/lifestyle blogger behind “Kenzy Who?” She’s from Seattle and absolutely loves living in the Pacific Northwest. Her blog primarily features affordable, attainable fashion, but she likes to include her hobbies and other passions as well! One of those passions is definitely craft beer, and she loves getting the chance to talk about it. You can follow her on Instagram @kenzywho and be sure to check out her blog http://www.kenzywho.com
Jennifer is a blogger, pug mama, and succulent shopaholic. When she’s not buying another cactus, you can find her sipping on a kölsch and hanging out with her pug and boyfriend. You can follow her adventures on her Instagram page aptly named @followthatjen or online at www.followthatjen.com
Katie is the creator of Brewing Up Style. Thanks for reading! Katie blogs about style, travel, and everything related to craft beer. If you love everyday shenanigans, you can subscribe to the blog here or follow on Instagram @brewingupstyle.