I spent last week in the swelter and haze of my natal town, Bowling Green, Kentucky. Bowling Green is an old town with old money, home to Western Kentucky University (go Hilltoppers!), Lost River Cave (neat!), the Corvette plant (cool if you like cars), and once the short-lived Confederate Capital of the state (not cool). It reminded me of 82nd Ave with nice houses and golf courses, but my family are there, and that's reason enough to go. OK, it's the only reason.
So, welcome home, me! I am delighted to be back in the warm embrace of civilization, once more safely within reach of the Pacific Ocean, sheltered behind our mountains, once more in close proximity to the world's finest beers.
That said, there are at least five beers that we can't get out here in Oregon (surely sour grapes on the part of those poor sots unlucky enough to dwell outside of the Pacific Time Zone). The ones I hear about most often are Magic Hat from Vermont and Bell's from Michigan. When I'm on the East Coast I drink Magic Hat, but usually find it to be a bit underwhelming, especially given the hype (although, since it's from Vermont, I assume the beer tastes better stoned).
This time, I was able to try Bell's Amber Ale for the first time. The packaging betrays its non-Left Coast provenance, expressing wonderment that the consumer would "read a six-pack holder." Ahh, they'll get it someday- careful, detailed perusal of beer packaging is part and parcel of the Oregon experience, but I'll rein in the condescension and go on...
Superciliousness notwithstanding, it was a good brew, hoppy like a Callie amber ale, with a nice malt core to it. Not one to write home about- although I guess that's exactly what I'm doing- but a nice brew all the same. And I hear the brewpub up in Kalamazoo is a great time as well.
Other exotic beers I tried included:
Goose Island Bitter: The best beer I've had from this Chicago brewhouse. Crispy, hoppy, and, yes, bitter. There was also a Nut Brown, but I did not try it (it was 95 degrees and 99% humidity, so refreshment was at a premium)
Kentucky Ale: OK, a solid B. Malty, but dry. They also made (of course) a Bourbon-barrel-aged pale and porter. I did not try these.
Bluegrass Brewing American Pale Ale: Better than the above beer, with a nice hop profile to keep my Northwestern palate happy. Crisp.
Great Lakes "Burning River" Pale Ale: A bit maltier than I would have liked, but with a touch of sweetness that became unobtrusive once the palate acclimatized to it.
...sorry not to have tried more, but ridiculously, no mix-and-match 6ers were available, so I had to buy by the 6-pack; a dangerous proposition in beer exploration, but a risk I was willing to take for my loyal readers.