GOT A BEER mule in the family?
You know, someone traveling out of town this summer who’s willing to lug back a few bottles?
Then, I have a list for you. These are the gems you can’t buy in the Philadelphia area – top-rated brews that you might’ve read about but never tasted because they’re simply not shipped our way.
Unless, of course, you have your own mule. Where’s yours headed this summer?
The no-brainer from this region is Alaskan Smoked Porter, the rich, smoky dark beer from Juneau that makes its way as far as Texas, and no farther east. If your mule is headed that way, tell him to dump his underwear and fill up that suitcase with as many bottles as possible.
What else? Midnight Sun Berserker Imperial Stout (Alaska), Anchorage Bitter Monk (Alaska), Laurelwood Organic Portland Roast Espresso Stout (Oregon), Upright Brewing No. 7 (Oregon), LaConner Olde Curmudgeon (Washington) and Big Sky Bobo’s Robust Porter (Montana).
Also, the Northwest boasts lots of mead (honey wine): Grab a bottle or two from Celestial Meads.
Indiana’s Three Floyds sent nearly its entire portfolio to Philly till a few years ago, when it got so popular back home that it was forced to pull out of our market. Many of us would love another taste of Dreadnaught Imperial IPA, Robert the Bruce Scottish Ale or Gumballhead wheat ale.
New Glarus Belgian Red, meanwhile, is a Holy Grail brew because it’s not sold outside the Badger State. Not a fruit fan? Thumbprint IIPA, a strong double India pale ale, is the one you want.
What else? Tyranena Rocky’s Revenge Bourbon Brown (Wisconsin), Ale Asylum Bedlam (Wisconsin), Sun King Osiris Pale Ale (Indiana), Pipeworks Citra Ninja Imperial IPA (Illinois) and Revolution Very Mad Cow (Illinois).
It’s slim pickings south of the Mason-Dixon, partly because the best names (Cigar City, Terrapin, Jester King, Duck-Rabbit) are already in Philly, and partly because, well, they’re not exactly swimming in suds down in the Bible Belt.
Asheville, N.C., boasts a growing beer scene where many of Dixie’s best can be found, including the Tar Heel State’s French Broad Rye Hopper, Ninja Porter, Foothills Baltic Porter and Olde Hickory Death by Hops.
What else? Good People American Brown Ale (Alabama) and Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan (Mississippi).
I’m having a hard time thinking of anything we don’t get from California. Russian River, Port, Firestone Walker, Sierra Nevada, The Bruery, Bear Republic, North Coast, Lost Coast, Anderson Valley and nearly all the IPAs from San Diego are already here and in full supply.
There’s a bit of buzz around the pricey “Farm to Barrel Series” oak-aged beers from San Francisco’s Almanac Beer Co.; Farmer’s Reserve No. 3 is made with strawberries and nectarines.
Colorado has almost as many breweries as California, but everybody who heads to the Rockies comes back yakking about New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale and not much else. Nice enough beer, but it’s available just down I-95 in Maryland (and Delaware in August).
Instead, send your mule in search of anything from Odell Brewing, in Fort Collins, especially its barrel-aged Woodcut Series.
What else? Four Peaks Sunbru Kölsch-Style Ale (Arizona), Santa Fe Chicken Killer Barley Wine (New Mexico), Marble Red Ale (New Mexico) and Epic Big Bad Baptist (Utah).
While Vermont has more breweries per capita than any other state, it’s known mainly for the Magic Hat, Long Trail and Otter Creek breweries.
But there’s much more, so supply your mule with a U-Haul and don’t let him back home unless he’s carrying Hill Farmstead Abner Double IPA and Everett Porter, the Alchemist Heady Topper and anything – absolutely anything – from Lawson’s Finest Liquids.
What else? Anything from Cambridge Brewing (Massachusetts), Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union (Massachusetts), Throwback Hog Happy Hefeweizen (New Hampshire) and Grey Sail Stargazer Imperial Stout (Rhode Island).