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?
Crooked Run Summer Night Raspberry Saison
The Brewery: Crooked Run Brewing, a tiny brewery with a 31.5 gallon system out of Leesburg, Virginia
Credit: Photo from crookedrunbrewing.com
The Beer: Summer Night raspberry saison
Tasting Notes: You'll be forgiven for not recognizing the essence of saison in this brew. What you will find is a hint of berry and a ton of roast-y chocolate flavor in a surprisingly drinkable package. Brewer Leland Rogan pulled off this balance with some light hopping, dehusked malt, and low-temperature fermentation. While you might be hard-pressed to find it anywhere outside of northern Virginia, if you see it, give it a try.