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.
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.