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?
Nantahala Noon Day IPA
The Brewery: Nantahala Brewery, from Bryson City, North Carolina (about 60 miles west of Asheville)
The Beer: Noon Day IPA
Tasting Notes: Nantahala has been working with Sierra Nevada since 2012, when their brewers flew out to Chico, California to collaborate at Beer Camp. It felt fitting then that we tried our first Noon Day IPA at the Beer Camp Across America festival, in Nantahala's backyard in Mills River, North Carolina. The IPA, one of Nantahala's flagship beers, is a relatively low-alcohol IPA that is supremely well-balanced with a nice malt heft to it that is balanced with plenty of citrus hops and a dry finish. This is the kind of IPA we wouldn't think twice about drinking in quantities — the kind of IPA you want for the game or beach.
Credit: iTapped / Flickr