During our time on the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America — from California to Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Pennsylvania and, finally, North Carolina — we tasted beers, talked to locals, and tried to get a sense of the state of craft beer across the country. We learned a lot on our trip: That hot air balloon rides can cure hangovers, Pliny for breakfast will rob you of your ambitions, and that you can, indeed, brew beer on the back of a moving bus.
RELATED: Checking in From Every Stop of Beer Camp
More importantly, we found that there were dozens of great beers that you can only get by being a local — whether in Asheville, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Portland, Maine, or San Diego. From walking the grounds of the regional festivals and tasting some 30 beers at each of the seven Beer Camp festivals (this wasn't entirely fun; not all the beers were good), we found 70 beers that, if you live more than a few hundred miles away from the brewery, you probably haven't had the chance to try. We suggest you follow our example and make a road trip out of it. A beer tour across the country doesn't sound like too bad an idea now, does it?
Green Man Leaf Blower
The Brewery: Green Man, in downtown Asheville
The Beer: Leaf Blower seasonal amber
Tasting Notes: Green Man's brewer told us he created this 'in-between' seasonal for late summer, when fall beers start to roll out, but it's just too damn hot to want to drink them. This beer is hopped with whole leaf Vanguard hops, which are subtle American hops (a close cousin to German's ubiquitous Hallertau hops), and as such they bring an earthy nose and bitterness that balances this low-alcohol, malt forward beer. As advertised, it's a beer you'll want to reach for on that not-quite-cool September day, where, tired of light summer brews, you can make your transition to the more malty beers that are abound in October.