10 Tasty, Interesting Beers that Complete an Adventure

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camping in mexico drinking beer
That dude is so stoked that he doesn't even notice the rising tide.

All things come in threes, as the saying goes, and I believe the ceremonial articles of proper camping begin with coffee, chocolate, and beer. Every trip ought to have these. At a meeting of usual suspects at a desolate camp at the base of a desert mountain, we agreed on the coffee-chocolate-beer trifecta but quizzed one another on the specifics: what's your favorite brew? I had to go first, and the pressure struck me as intense. Go with an obscure microbrew to get the dialog going, or pass off an old standby? I couldn't pick, likely fearful that my choice wouldn't be hardcore enough. So, I went with my gut and fired out the lone retort that resonated the strongest. "My favorite beer is the one handed to me by a new friend."

That's the thing. Beer isn't the medium for a good time, it's what we use to celebrate a good time, good friends, and a day spent outside. Big difference I say, so check out this list of tasty ones, most of them brewed right in the American West except for two that come from the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. Add your favorites (or complain about mine) in the comments, good people. And, of course, drink responsibly.

1. Oak Creek Brewing Nut Brown Ale

oak-creek-nut-brownDisplaying just a hint of pride for my home state, you see, I'll kick this off with a local flavor. Crafted near the backdrop of Sedona, Arizona where the views are inspiring, the footpaths many, and the mountain biking trails surreal.

With that kind of locale, you'd hope someone in town could brew something equally inspiring, plentiful, and surreal. A touch of spice among the toasty nut flavor, I think brewmaster at Oak Creek managed it.


2. Big Sky Brewing Moose Drool Brown Ale

moose drool beerIf you can lift a bottle to your lips and take a sip while thinking about the word DROOL and standing firm without a wince, you're definitely a parent. And you're in the right place. This one carries a number of sweet kisses, like honey, brown sugar, and maybe chocolate. Yum yum.

Made in Missoula, Montana, which by my standards is not much more than a charming mountain hamlet with a population of just 60,000+. There are 3.3 million acres of wilderness within 100 miles of the town, and all the river running, fly fishing, and snow sports you can cram into your time on Earth. It's a three-hour drive to Glacier NP, and a little more than that to Yellowstone. Lewis and Clark passed through modern-day Missoula in 1806 . . . and all of this just means the vibes in the air where Moose Drool is brewed make this beer unique. Distribution for Moose Drool is primarily in patches throughout the American West, so buy it when you find it.

3. Sierra Blanca Roswell Alien Amber Ale

roswell alien amber aleDevoid of bitter hoppiness, so you're either into it or not. Hey, this is a beer list, that's the way it goes. Despite the goofy label, it's a modest beer with a wide appeal. 

This one's made right outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico where they're seemingly smitten with riding the alien motif as hard as possible.

The truth is out there.

4. PBR

pbr 001Okay, the needle on your "tasty dial" just sank into the red, right? Easily the most tasteless brew of this whole batch, I just wanted to get a show of hands. You know who you are.

What PBR lacks in taste, it makes up for in cult following.

Just because there's a cult, doesn't make it worth following . . . at least it's cheap.

5. Grand Teton Brewing Old Faithful Ale

grand teton brewing old faithful 001Like Oak Creek Nut Brown, this ale is crafted amid the good vibrations of beautiful mountains and stoked folk heading out to ski, run, climb, or kayak. Brewed just down the road from Jackson in Victor, Idaho.

But is it any good? Old Faithful seems to have the fruity flavor of apricot and a gentle spice at the finish. Only available in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks and at the brew pub in Victor, Idaho, so you're going to have to take a road trip to get a taste for yourself.

6. Dos Equis Ambar

dos equis beer amber 001Some of my cohorts know this one as my old standby. Ambar, always ambar.

The name Dos Equis is Spanish for "two Xs." It came about because the beer was first brewed in 1897 — or just before the 20th Century — and to usher in the new era it was named Siglo XX (Spanish for "20th Century"). Ultimately the beer became colloquially named Dos Equis. This beer is made by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma in Mexico.

7. Negra Modelo

negra modelo bottle 001And yet another Mexican beauty. Also dark and, yes, well known.

It's Mexico's best-selling dark beer and also the second most imported dark beer, so it certainly doesn't win any awards for a new find. However, she's a tasty one. It's primarily smooth and pleasant with a sweet malt scent.

8. Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale

deschutes mirror pond beerCraft beer Mirror Pond wins awards and tops lists all over the place, and if you've been anywhere in the American West, surely you've seen this one. Yes, it's brewed in Portland and it feels like I'm riding on a bandwagon just drinking the stuff and then putting it on this list — likeOMGPortlandissocool. FAIL! Correction: brewed in Bend, Oregon.

But I'm not the only one who enjoys this flavorful brew. So it's all good.   

9. Squatters Provo Girl

squatters provo girl 001I kicked back with my family at the low-key camp atop Murphy Hogback on the White Rim Trail one summer night. We cracked open a box of Cheez-Its, watched a spectacular golden sunset and I tipped back a fistful of Squatters Provo Girls. No double meaning there, folks, but it was a splended memorable adventure for us all.

I couldn't tell you how Provo Girl tastes, I only recall what it felt like. That happens. Sometimes a beer tastes best with the right setting and company.


10. Alaskan Amber

alaskan-amber beerThis is a downright wonderful beer, and also the flagship craft from Alaskan Brewing Co. It's an altbier, a beer made by a less conventional method of brewing, and there aren't many breweries in the U.S. doing it. But that doesn't mean Alaskan Amber is going to be off-putting or, well, wierd. Remarkably, it's a balanced and enjoyable beer.

Alaskan brews in the capitol city of Juneau, Alaska. So far, no roads go in or out of the small coastal city. One must ride an airplane or take a boat to get to Juneau. 4000 feet higher in the mountains just outside of town is the Juneau Icefield with 30 glaciers. World class kayaking is just a short puddle jump away in Glacier Bay, too.


+2 / 0
# Jason 2012-08-09 14:12
Deschutes is brewed in Bend, OR. deschutesbrewery.com/.../...

There are MANY other great breweries in Oregon, too!
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Mark Stephens
0 / 0
# Mark Stephens 2012-08-09 14:36
Bend. Hmm. Nuts, where'd I get Portland? Dunno. Thanks for speaking up!
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Mark Stephens
0 / 0
# Mark Stephens 2012-08-09 14:39
On a good note, my feelings of bandwagon-ness have fallen off.
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