I usually start every non-sports related post with an apology, but not this time. If you like sports, there’s a 98.5% chance you like beer. The two go hand in hand. Well, maybe beer goes hand in hand with everything. You might notice a little West Coast bias in this list – much like everything else we write about on Doin Work. It’s also affected by the fact that breweries I’ve visited tend to skyrocket up my personal power rankings. But I also truly feel that the best beer is brewed along the Pacific. If it’s from California, Oregon, or Washington, I’m usually on board. So, apologies to fans of Allagash, New Belgium, or Victory Brewing Co. This list isn’t for you. Well, maybe it is. Maybe it’ll inspire you to step up to some better beers. First I should introduce my taste. I’m a fan of Pale Ales, IPAs, and Pilsners. If the mood is right, I can appreciate a good Porter or Stout. What you won’t catch me enjoying is a Hefeweizen or White Ale. If it’s brewed west of Germany / Denmark or East of Colorado / Montana, I probably won’t like it. (If I’m truly missing out on something, let me know. I’m not too proud to prove myself wrong) I don’t claim to be a beer science expert. You won’t hear me talking about aromas and finishes and what not. I just like what tastes good. I used to feel like the hoppier the better, but I’ve since been proved wrong. There’s a fine balance.
This is the equivalent of the NFL Draft’s “Mr. Irrelevant”. I can’t honestly say that Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is the 10th best brewery in the world, but it makes my list because it’s the one brewery taproom I’ve been to where every single beer I tried was flawless top to bottom. Like many of my brewery visits, this place was a completely impromptu stop on a weekend road trip. I don’t even know how we found the place – I had never heard of it before that one random weekend in Santa Cruz. We must’ve just seen a sign on the side of the road or something. Anyway, it felt like we were hanging out in a trailer where they served beer out on a farm. Okay, that description doesn’t really do it justice. I had a phenomenal afternoon on a Sunday drive home to San Francisco circa 2006. What’s funny is that was the only time in my life I ever drank Santa Cruz Mountain beer….. until recently. I stumbled upon an Organic Dread Brown Ale at a BevMo somewhere in the last year. I’m pretty neutral when it comes to Brown Ales, (I still think Newcastle does it best) but this one excels. Like I said, everything top to bottom is solid.
These guys are poised to start jumping up on my list. I seemed to stay away from their beers for a while, perhaps because of something so simple as boring labels. To be honest, Grand Teton brews don’t really stand out. But every one I’ve tried to this day has been great. If anything, you know them for Bitch Creek. It’s an average ESB, but their real gem is the Sweetgrass American Pale Ale. That’s some great stuff. I’m also a big fan of the seasonals and limited releases of late, thanks to my local grocery store being of the boutique fashion. There are three from Grand Teton that stand out in my memory. The Pursuit of Hoppiness Imperial Red and the Trout Hop Black IPA were particularly good, but it was two days ago when I had the beer that would forever cement Grand Teton in my top ten. I was perusing the beer aisle when the Persephone Imperial Pilsner called out to me. I tell you it was glowing on the shelf. Time stood still. It was $9.99 for a 750mL bottle, but my confidence in this brewery was sky high. They exceeded all my expectations with this one. If you see a Persephone Pils on your shelf, grab it. It’s well worth the ten dollars. Or if you see one of Grand Tetons traditional offerings, feel free to try that instead.