Wake Up and Smell the Craft Beer
Let's talk about the country's craft beer scene: In terms of hot beds, there are the usual suspects — Portland, Seattle, San Francisco — but what are some other areas that deserve attention?
Asheville, N.C., for sure — they have 12 craft breweries there and were voted BeerCity U.S.A. Also Bend, Ore., Chicago, Austin, Long Island (smaller, but still worth noting), and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. (Surly Brewing Co. has been guiding the revival).
Any interesting trends you've been noticing in the craft beer movement as of late?
The colorization of IPAs, for one, I think it really speaks to the popularity of the style. Normally they're a kind of reddish-golden color, but now you're seeing everything from white, hoppy wheat beers to black IPAs that have a dark tint but still drink light. There's also been a bigger emphasis on terroir, and returning back to the land — partnering with local farmers and using area ingredients like honey, herbs, and grains. It's also been interesting to see how the American craft beer movement has been inspiring other places — New Zealand's Epic Brewing Company is a perfect example, making super hoppy beers that emmulate the American style but still has its own unique twists.
You recommend a lot of beers throughout the book — it seems as though you list anywhere from four to 10 for just about every style you discuss. What are some favorite brews you're into at the moment?
Anchorage Brewing's Whiteout Wit Bier — it's easy-drinking, sour, and buttery. Also Booklyn Brewery's Sorachi Ace, a Belgian-style saison that is made using an unusual hop by the same name. The hop variety was actually developed by Japan's Sapporo Breweries, but they couldn't find a commercial use for it. Brooklyn Brewery has used it to make a beer that has a really unique, soft lemony-buttery quality. A couple other favorites are the Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale, Half Acre's Daisy Cutter Pale Ale, and the Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' (a hopped-up American-style wheat beer that drinks as good as it smells). And then also the Starr Hill Brewery's Dark Starr Stout, an American version of a dry Irish stout — a great choice if you're a Guinness drinker.