The Pacific Northwest has some of the best craft beer in the world thanks to not only amazing farmers growing great hops but also ingenious brewers that push the limits of beer. To credit the rest of the USA, nowadays good craft beer can be found in most states and they are making great brews as well. That being said, my experience with the Pacific Northwest lends me to be a smidge biased. We will be taking a journey starting on the Oregon coast and then heading east into Idaho for my top two craft breweries in each state.
Now let’s get down to business. Starting off on the Oregon coast in Newport, we have Rogue Ales and Spirits. With their flagship beer Dead Guy Ale, Rogue has been making craft beer the best way for a long time and is one of my favorites. Other craft beer makers buy most if not all their hops from a wide array of different farmers and companies, but rogue sets itself apart from the rest by growing most of what they need. Whereas other farmers may grow hops for many uses, Rogue Farms grow everything from hops to barley to pumpkins to jalapenos specifically for their beer. This way, Rogue has control over every part of the beer making process which results in amazing beer.
Favorite Beer: Dead Guy Ale. I love most of the beer they make at Rogue and Hazelnut Brown Nectar came in as a close second, but Dead Guy all day.
Leaving Newport on Highway 20 eastward to Bend, Oregon, home of the Deschutes Brewery. Once you navigate your way through the roundabouts of Bend (to a grid minded person, it is like a labyrinth of looping concentric circles), you will find the Deschutes Brewery at the top of a small hill. Inside you will find smiling faces serving up beautiful brews and filling growlers with happiness. Whereas Rogue has a more aggressive approach to beer making, in Bend you will find the good folks at Deschutes more laid back, but just as passionate about beer. This brewery is one of my favorites because of the consistently good beer they produce regardless of type or time of the year, they do not sell anything less than tasty beer across the board.
Back on Highway 20 out of Bend, away from the forests and into the high desert of central east Oregon. The desert fades to mixed sagebrush prairie and farmland connecting to Interstate 84 into Idaho to Boise, the state capital as well as home to the Sockeye Brewery. The image above is of their new location providing more space, more beer brewing and canning capacity than their original location could handle. The original location in my old neighborhood I grew up in makes their delicious brews in small batches, serving up not only great beer, but also good food and live music. Named after the salmon that begins and ends its life deep in the heart of the Idaho Sawtooth mountains, several of their beers are named after landmarks along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Among these are Dagger Falls IPA, along with Powerhouse Porter, Velvet Falls Cream Ale, and Hell Diver Pale Ale.
Favorite Beer: Dagger Falls IPA. Hitting the hophead inside me with 100 IBUs, it is my favorite IPA. This brew stands out well above the rest of their good beers and no other Sockeye brew comes close.
Heading out of Boise on the I-84 out east toward the Idaho/Wyoming border driving through the agricultural heartland of Idaho up into the mountain forests. It is not a straight shot from Boise to Victor on the I-84 so I suggest mapping it out online or with an app. Victor is nestled on the western foot of the Teton Mountain range amongst the mixed deciduous and evergreen forest. Once in Victor, Idaho, you will find the Grand Teton Brewery. A brewery with a bar attached to the front of the house does not serve any food, but they do serve (in my humble opinion) the best beer in the world. Friendly staff, free popcorn, and a beautiful mountain view from the bar as well as their front porch makes this brewery a relaxing beer paradise. What sets the Grand Teton Brewery apart from the rest is their exclusive Cellar Reserve series. Barrel-aged beer made in small batches and only available at the brewery on tap. No growlers, no bottles, just the best beer on tap. Enjoy it while you can.
Favorite Beer: Whiskey Barrel-Aged Black Cauldron. An Imperial Stout to end all stouts. For me, it is the very last word in beer. Smooth, delicious, and 10.25% ABV. Words cannot do this brew justice so I will leave it up to you, the reader, to taste it for yourself. Only drawback is that you can only get it on tap at the brewery and no were else. But, then again, that is a great reason to head to remote Victor, Idaho and taste craft beer heaven.
About the Author:
I am a creative writer at heart but branching out into the world of blogging. A craft beer enthusiast, I love to sample the fine beers of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. My wife Heather has stuck by me through it all and she is the reason for everything positive in my life. Follow me on Twitter @Max_Augustine1