Monday, October 4, 2010

Good Beer Everywhere!

I spent this weekend in Front Royal, VA, mostly at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's open house (and no, I didn't get to pet a clouded leopard cub). As is often the case when I'm traveling, I do a bit of beer research before I go someplace. I tapped into the wealth of knowledge that is the DC beer listserv... and got nothing. Somebody posted something about Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, which must be the most taken-for-granted good beer out there by now, and proclaimed Front Royal a beer wasteland. This same listserv downplayed the interesting beer options in New Zealand when I went there in May. In both cases they were wrong.*
Now, there's nobody in or around Front Royal making and bottling good beer, but there are certainly folks distributing and selling it. Products from Brooklyn Brewery, Bell's Brewery, Unibroue, Southern Tier, and semi-local St. George, most famous for letting the Tuppers make Hop Pocket at their facility, are all available. If you go there, check out J's Gourmet and Vino E Formaggio.
And on the way back to DC I stopped off at the Gainesville, VA Wegman's. Now there's a grocery store that understands good beer.
If you enjoy craft beer we truly live in a golden age. There's no better time to be alive, because good beer is everywhere. Thank formal and informal networks of brewers, thank effective supply-chain management, thank the interwebs... good beer has become globalized and democratized. And that's a very very good thing.

* Free advice: seek out Epic Beer's Armageddon IPA and Mayhem Pale Ale if you're in New Zealand. NZ brewers are increasingly influenced by the US, which means hops and Belgian yeasts are prevalent, and US beers can hang with the best of them.

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