By: Stephen Ensminger
This past fall, my family and I set out on a grand adventure to conquer the west and explore America by way of our recreation vehicle, a tow-behind 37-foot monster of a travel trailer. We trekked through eleven states during our three-month journey; an epic excursion for sure. Though, unbeknownst to my family, I had a secret agenda on this trip. I was determined to taste some of the most mouthwatering beverages the wild west had to offer…regional craft beers.
Initially, my goal was to enjoy beers that you can’t buy in the stores. Beers that are only found off the beaten path, beers that only locals know exist, but I soon learned this ambitious journey would go well beyond my expectations.
Our first stop was not too far off the famous Route 66, in the small mountain town of Cloudcroft, New Mexico. High in the clouds at over 9000-foot elevation, deep in the heart of the Lincoln National Forest, this small village offered an amazing destination experience and some delectable brews. My personal favorite on their menu was Railspike Red. It’s is an Imperial Red Ale bursting with flavor, not at all bitter, and very smooth. Also, with 7.8% Alcohol by Volume (ABV), this beer will have you on a rocky mountain high in no time. As they say, “beer tastes better in the mountains.”
We then left the mountains of New Mexico and traveled west on interstate I-40 arriving at the town of Williams, in northern Arizona. There we stopped at the Historic Brewing Company for some beers and food. Their menu offered a full variety of brews, but I was after a beverage like no other. That’s when I discovered Oceanfront Property; a Lager that delivers flavor and taste. The beer was light and crisp, it was full of flavor with clean citrus notes, perfect for sitting around the campfire on a warm autumn night.
We soon left the southwest in our rearview mirror and headed north. We traveled up the golden coast, dragging our 37-foot beast of a camper behind us. As we ventured further on route 101 in California; we soon found ourselves immersed in the giant redwood forests. There, the foggy mornings and mild temperatures during the day, made me seek out an earthy beverage that would complement this experience. We discovered The Great Pumpkin, by Elysian Brewing. This brewery is located in Washington state, but it sells its delightful drafts all over the Pacific Northwest. Said to be the world’s first imperial pumpkin beer, this brew was second to none, very impressive; a perfect treat for a scary, fall night deep in the heart of an ancient and spooky forest. We left the damp forests of the pacific and headed east to where our adventure began.
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