When we travel to great camping destinations across the country (or the continent or world, for that matter) we’re seeking a totally immersive experience. Even as short as time may be, we want to take it all in. So often it’s said, “We want to get the flavor of the place.”
What better way than wait to buy the beer until you reach the last outpost of civilization before entering a monumental locale? Local craft brewers seek to deliver the “flavor” of their hometowns and monuments.
So that’s what this 50 Campfires “In The Can” column is devoted to – brews crafted in the shadow of some of America’s greatest camping destinations; namely Acadia National Park in Maine, Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota, Yellowstone National Park in Montana, andGrand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
Go ahead, taste it all!
Brewery: Marshall Wharf Brewing Company
Style: American Double/Imperial Pale Ale
ABV: 10.00 %
Tasting Notes: Acadia National Park is a true New England treasure. Even among the renowned beauty of America’s national parks, Acadia is something special. Same can be said of Cant Dog Imperial IPA brewed by the Marshall Wharf BrewingCompany in Belfast, Maine just down the road from Acadia National Park.
At 10 percent ABV and in 16-ounce cans, Cant Dog packs nearly as much punch as a nor’ easter bearing down on Acadia’s islands. This brew is nearly universally described as “malty.” Yep, you can taste ‘em here for sure. Yet the hops are there to balance it out. Its color is the deep amber of pinesap that’s oozed from the trunk and weathered in Maine’s sun and storms.
Double IPAs are meant to stand on their own, and Cant Dog is no exception. Sweet foods will intensify the alcohol, and the alcohol makes it less of a counter to food’s spicy heat. If you’re looking for a food pairing to Cant Dog, go salty like bacon or ham. Some briny fresh oysters with a dollop of original Tabasco – mmmm, yeah.
11th Hour IPA Ale
Brewery: Crow Peak Brewing
Style: American IPA
Tasting Notes: Rapid City, South Dakota sits almost literally in the shadow of Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Nearly three million people visit the site in the Black Hills each year. Wine and beer making are skyrocketing there, and one beer that really captures the flavor of the region is 11th Hour IPA from Crow Peak Brewing.
There are mornings in the Black Hills when you could figure out where you are without even opening your eyes. The scent of Ponderosa Pine is on the downslope breeze. There’s touch of that in your first whiff of 11th Hour. Then you’ll catch the prairie grass, and the leaves of the oaks that fill the shady canyons and draws. It’s all there.
Flavor is of a middle-of-the-road IPA. Nothing overwhelming; nothing to bowl you over. Just good campsite drinking. Every food you can come up with made on the campfire or the portable grill is going to be good with a cold can of 11th Hour.
Brewery: Bozeman Brewing Company
Style: Amber Ale
Tasting Notes: Bozeman, Montana guards the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. If you were to be taken there blindfolded, the first word to cross your lips when the blinder was removed would likely be “mountains.” Chances are you might utter the same word after your first mouthful of Bozone Select. Its taste is of mountain heritage. What more could you possible ask of a beer for the campsite?
The color is copper like a new penny. Hops are spicy, but not overpowering. The finish flavor is of dry prairie grass; maybe some cloves; and ending in pepper. Bozone Select Amber Ale’s flavor will offend no one and be pleasing to many. Huh, a PC beer?
But Bozone’s better than that. This is a great beer to pair with campsite cuisine like cheeseburgers, chicken, seafood, or tacos – or just drinking with chips and dip. Keep this one cool to cold.
Brewery: Grand Canyon Brewing Company
Style: India Pale Ale
Tasting Notes: Campers come to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona to stand in awe. You can tell the first-timers right off. They stand in slack–jawed wonder attempting to comprehend the nearly incomprehensible beauty and magnitude of the place. Deep and wide are the words, but they seem inadequate.
The namesake Grand Canyon Brewing Company in nearby Williams, Arizona sets out to capture that feeling and flavor in each of their brews, and they’ve done a pretty good job of it with Black Iron. It pours a cloudy then transparent orange red with a quickly dissipating head. Aroma is a touch piney, sweet, and just a bit malty. Black Iron will certainly satisfy those who prefer an IPA on the maltier side of the scale.
Arizona and the Grand Canyon are famous (or infamous) for their heat. Put a six of Black Iron IPA surrounded by ample ice in a good cooler, and you’ve got a great Grand Canyon National Park campsite companion – whether you’re alone or with the gang. Bring out whatever eats suit you best.