At the first stop at Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America bash in Chico, California, two things were decidedly not in short order: beer and opinions why Northern California's beer scene stands out from the rest. We walked the grounds to find out from brewmasters, enthusiasts, and the experts running the booths why they think that, when it comes to beer, the Northwest is the best.
1. It's Where It All Began
"The roots of craft beer are in Northern California. It's the birthplace of Anchor, New Albion and Sierra Nevada." - Russian River's Vinnie Cilurzo
2. It Has Access to All the Hops
"We are so close to almost all the hops being grown in the country. We have a personal relationship with the farmers. We can ask them for things, and they can tell us all about the new experimental varieties. -Oakshire brewmaster Matt Van Wyk
3. It's the Food, Dude
"The culinary scene in California is huge. Farm-to-table came from here. There's a sense that beer is part of a culinary experience, and beer is made to go with food." -Colin McDonnell, cofounder of HenHouse Brewing Company.
4. It's Where IPAs Took Off
"We led the rest of the country in terms of those bold, hoppy beers." –Trumer production manager Jeff Eaton
"The West Coast is where we really started to bump up IPAs. That's the real signature of our part of the country." - Shane Aldrich, the head brewer at Half Moon Bay
5. It's the Weather
"The weather in California is amazing. You can always have a beer in your hand and drink it." –Aaron Duncan, a market manager for Ninkasi Brewing
6. It's the Mentality
"People are open-minded out here. They like to explore and try new things." -says Greg Smith, sales representative for Magnolia Brewing
"Easy vibes. It's the easy vibes." -Dylan Cook, a "beer enthusiast" working the Mraz Brewery booth.
7. It's the Wood
"There's more innovation with barrel aging because we're so close to Napa Valley. We have access to all those wine barrels."
–Drake's Travis Camacho
8. It Has Contrarians and Cranks
"Fuck hoppy. Been there, done that." -Brian Hunt, who runs Moonlight Brewing
MORE FROM THIS SUMMER'S BIGGEST BEER FEST:
- Stop 1: Chico, Calif. What Makes Northwestern Brews Great
- 8 Reasons Why the Northwestern Beer Scene Is America's Best
- Stop 2: San Diego, Calif. Show Off Its IPAs
- Why Southern California Has the Best Beer Culture in America
- ALSO: Sierra Nevada's Ken Grossman Throws the Summer's Biggest Beer Party