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local craft

Few statements elicit a more perplexed look of distaste on the faces of our non-American friends than the avowed desire to sample some American beers. Coors, Budweiser, and Miller have given American beer an undeservedly unsavory reputation. The truth is that there are hundreds of excellent microbreweries throughout the country that make a wide variety of delicious, full-bodied beers. Because most of them have only a limited, local distribution, one of the joys of travelling around the United States is the opportunity to sample these craft beers.


If you’re on your way to or from Yosemite, stop by Mariposa on your way. The burgers at Sugar Pines are top-notch, and The Alley is a great place to sample the local brews in this old frontier town.

After two years of drinking Tusker – East Africa’s ubiquitous brew – D was looking forward to the diversity (and better taste) of American microbrews. From Washington to California, the West Coast is a perfect place to moisten one’s tastebuds and indulge in a few local draughts. Before setting off on our upcoming tour of California’s national parks, we spent several days in Seattle, where D sipped the following:

  • Old Bawdy Barley Wine, Pike Brewing Co. (WA) – At 9.9abv, this beer packs a punch and a sultry taste to match. So good that it almost tempted D to break his self-imposed rule of not repeating any pint.
  • Whistling Pig Hefeweizen, Leavenworth Biers (WA) – The server described it as “the taste of summer punching you in the throat and stealing your kidney.” A solid hefeweizen that made a good accompaniment to the oysters we sucked down on Seattle’s sunniest day of the year.
  • Hillird’s Saison, Hilliard’s Brewing Co. (WA) – A middling ale that proved a bit of a disappointment after the Whistling Pig.
  • Baltic Porter, Uncommon Brewing Co. (CA) – Strong and bitter the way a porter should be.
  • Freemont Coconut Porter Firken, Freemont Brewing Co. (WA) – quite a bit milder than the Baltic Porter, but with a much richer array of flavors. Excellent beer.
  • Mudshark Porter, Fish Brewing Co. (WA) – Another good porter, which made a nice counterpoint to the fried marrow bones we had our first night in Seattle.
  • Freemont Summer Ale, Freemont Brewing Co. (WA) – A mild, but pleasant ale; a good way to end the night.

We have three weeks of California travel ahead of us, so if you live on the West Coast and have a favorite local brew, please leave us a comment.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jennifer #

    so jealous. if you are going to san francisco, wear some flowers in your hair – but also, stop by city beer store in SOMA for an abundance of deliciousness.

    May 6, 2013
    • Thanks Jen, we’ll ask Korin and Dan for directions as we’re crashing with them on Scoops’ recommendation.

      May 6, 2013
      • Jennifer #

        EVEN MORE JEALOUS – we were all on the same team last season. say hi for me!

        May 6, 2013
        • Already did, with the foreknowledge that you’d want us to. :)

          May 7, 2013
  2. You should check out Colorado … especially Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Vail / Eagle. Denver has become quite the mecca for award winning microbrews and hosts the annual American Beer Festival in October. I believe there were over 50,000 visitors to the festival last year. Have fun on your beerscapades!

    May 7, 2013
    • Thanks, Lexi. Colorado isn’t in the cards for this particular trip, but it’s an awesome place to which we’d love to return. Also, the Left Hand milk stout is absolutely divine and one of my favorite micro brews.


      May 7, 2013
  3. San Fran is the best. Enjoy!

    May 8, 2013
  4. west coast beers? too many to list. I’m your man for IPA recommendations, though. Come knocking anytime.

    May 8, 2013
    • Not huge IPA fans I’m afraid. We’ll need to talk before you head to Sequoia so that you can replenish our stocks – can’t go car camping without beer.

      May 11, 2013
  5. Hope you made it to City Beer Store! Monk’s Kettle is another favorite. Sad I missed your SF visit, but hope it was awesome!

    May 11, 2013
    • Good visit, but way too short. It was nice to see your parents and grandma. Hopefully we can stay longer next time. City Beer Store was on the itinerary but we were rushing to get to Yosemite and it opened too late.

      May 11, 2013
  6. Anonymous #

    Where is this awesome bar in the photo above? I went to a super bar in Mariposa (just outside of Yosemite) called “The Alley” that looked similar. Great beers from all over California and the U.S.!

    May 11, 2013
    • Why yes Flora, this is indeed “The Alley” you speak of. We wish we had had more time to spend in Mariposa and sample The Alley’s fine selection of beers :)

      May 11, 2013

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