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?
Bissell Brothers' The Substance Ale: Portland, Maine
The Brewery: Bissell Brothers, a brewery in Portland, Maine. Everywhere we went in Portland locals insisted that we needed to try the beers being brewed by the Bissell Brothers. We found them pouring their beers at the festival and went back to their brewery the next day for another taste.
Credit: Peter Bissell
The Beer: The Substance Ale
Tasting Notes: The Substance in question is hop oils and the Bissell Brothers use them for maximum flavor in this highly drinkable beer that falls smack in the middle of the pale ale and IPA range. Maximum flavor means that the alcohol doesn't creep up too far and the bitterness doesn't get ridiculous. Classic american hop flavors of citrus and resin carry the beer to a dry finish.