Colorado makes some of the best beers in the world, but when the Great American Beer Festival is in town, it's your chance to try something from another state, especially the ones that are talked about by beer aficionados across the country.
We're lucky in that some of these breweries - like Dogfish Head, Stone, Jolly Pumpkin, Deschutes, Ommegang, Lagunitas, Rogue, Anderson Valley, Alaskan, Russian River and Port - distribute their beers in Colorado. But most don't.
So, unless you travel a lot, this is the only time that Square Staters can try some of these brews.
The following is a list of a dozen breweries that I'm looking forward to sampling (among dozens of others, no doubt) - some of which I've never had a chance to try before.
12. Allagash Brewing, Portland, Maine From the northeast corner of the country, Allagash distributes to 22 states, but not Colorado, and their beer, particularly their signature Belgian-style White, ends up on just about every list of the best beers in the nation. This is my chance to find out why.
11. Bell's Brewing, Kalamazoo, Michigan Anyone who has ever lived in the Midwest talks about this brewery ad naseum. I've tried them before -- and I thought their beers were very good, if not great -- and want to give it another shot. In particular, I want to try Two-Hearted Ale and HopSlam Ale.
10. Cambridge Brewing, Cambridge, Massachusetts I'd never heard of this brewer until last year when a friend tipped me off to it. Cambridge turned out to be my favorite brewery from last year's Great American Beer Festival. And as the lines got longer, they ran out of beer quickly. Hopefully, they'll bring more.
9 .Cascade Brewing, Portland, Oregon A friend smuggled a bottle of Cascade's Kriek sour cherry ale into Colorado a couple months ago, and it was awesome. I want more. Much more.
8. Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, Florida The beers from this little brewery are getting smokin' reviews! Its Hunahpu's Imperial Stout garnered an A+ from Beer Advocate. I'll be hitting this one first.
7. Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Farmville, North Carolina Maybe it's the name. Maybe it's the logo. Or maybe it's their Rabbit Milk Stout, which I have heard is awesome. But Duck-Rabbit is one I have to try.
© Vance Fox. Photo courtesy of MWA Architects, Inc.
6. Fifty Fifty Brewing, Truckee, California This place started the Collaborative Evil trail, an annual experiment carried out during the fest by a coalition of eight breweries; each year, they all do one style - this year, it's an imperial or Baltic porter - to showcase the diversity of brewing styles, techniques and ingredients.
5. Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, North Carolina Sexual Chocolate is reason enough to visit. But that's not the only Foothills beer that has won awards recently. They're also part of the burgeoning North Carolina beer scene.
Image via facebook.com/mauibrewing
4. Maui Brewing, Maui, Hawaii I first heard about this brewery when they started distributing in California in 2008; this year, Maui won the top honor at the U.S. Open Beer Championships in Atlanta.
3. New Glarus Brewing, New Glarus, Wisconsin A cult favorite from coast to coast -- and especially in states like Colorado where you can't get their beers -- New Glarus makes some awesome fruity concoctions that get lots of press.
2. Ninkasi Brewing, Eugene, Oregon One of the most well-known and fastest-growing breweries in the Pacific Northwest, Ninkasi supposedly makes some great beer. I've never tried it. I want to.
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