“Good people drink good beer.” Hunter S. Thompson said that and while I agree with him I’m not at all opposed to a cool Pabst Blue Ribbon. So I guess in Dr. Gonzo’s eyes I’m the scum of the earth. But I also like IPAs which doesn’t bode well for me either seeing as some scientists would say I’m a psychopath. What do I do? Who the hell am I? Before going further down the rabbit hole of my drinking habits and existential paradox, let’s take a look at what I believe to be the three best breweries in the good ol’ U.S., baby!
Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. (Roseland, Virginia)
The newest but also one of the best. Located in the heart of Virginia along the now-famous “Brew Ridge Trail” (the pun comes from the trail located in and around the massive Blue Ridge Mountain Range where over a dozen breweries have been established). Founded in 2008, Devil’s is famous for its signature IPA, known for the hoppy kick and high alcohol content. But it’s also known for the award-winning lager, if the bitterness is too much of an attack on your taste buds. If you just happen to be driving along the Brew Ridge Trail, you have to stop in for a beer — or five.
Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
I was intrigued by Kalamazoo not only because of how awesome a name like Kalamazoo is, but because it’s home to one of the most unique breweries in the world. It’s fitting a unique town gets an equally unique beer company. Carrying a wide variety of ales and lagers, my favorite is their Two-Hearted Ale, partly because it’s a Hemingway reference and I’m a book nerd to the nth degree. And for all the science people, they have beers named after the planets in the solar system. There’s something for everyone!
Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, New York)
Based in a beautiful place, with a beer that is just as delicious, Ommegang’s slogan is “Everything for a Reason.” And I think it was fate that brought me to this wonderful brewery in the hill country of upstate New York. In the fall, the Abbey Ale even tastes like it was brewed from streams running through the hills just as the leaves change color. I almost applied for a job, not only for Ommegang’s delicious brews, but also because of the beautiful scenery. What’s better than going out on your front porch with a cold beer on a sunny day, windy day, rainy day, snowy day, really –- any day?
Oh and here are two books to get you ready to visit these wonderful watering holes.
The Beer Bible by Jeff Alworth (Workman Publishing, 2015)
This is the definitive guide to all things beer. For any casual drinker or beer enthusiast this is an absolute must. Just don’t try to be the snob brew expert at the next BYOB party. “Oh, I don’t like Bud Light so I decided to bring the extra-hoppy micro brew they only contain in a mason jar…” STOP!
The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes by Joshua Bernstein (Sterling Epicure, 2013)
We all know about wine tasting, but whoever heard of being a beer taster? Before reading this I had dreams of getting my master’s one day; not so anymore. Sign me up for traveling the world and tasting the finest beverages on this great earth. Teach your pallet to learn about the nuance of what makes a delicious beer.