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Craft Beer and Camping: From Portland, OR to Portland, ME

Over the past decade, the craft beer industry has seen an explosion of growth, allowing enthusiasts to try local brews from Portland, Ore., all the way to Portland, Maine. Check out some of our favorite craft breweries around the country and find campgrounds nearby for your next adventure.  

Maine

What to drink:

Foundation Brewery
Portland, Maine

Foundation Brewery founders Joel Mahaffey and John Bonney met a few years back at a home brewing club in Bangor. Their friendship, talent and passion have taken them out of the home kitchen and into a sparkling new brewery that opened in 2014.

These brewmasters have chosen to craft their beers in the saison style, which originated from the Belgian area of Wallonia. Saison beers were brewed in the winter to slake the thirst of the farm workers in the summer. Foundation’s two lead beers are “Blaze,” which is a farmhouse IPA and the more traditional saison “Eddy,” which is a little drier.

Allagash BrewingAllagash Brewing Co.
Portland, Maine

In 1995 Rod Tod founded Allagash, taking his inspiration from Belgian brewers. Over the years, Allagash has developed six year-round beers that all have unique seasoning and drinking characteristics. Additionally, when you stop by the brewery you’ll invariably get a chance to try some limited run and seasonal beers.

Rod has taken a very principled stance in business responsibility by running the brewery with 100 percent renewable wind energy and developing a composting program.

Wisconsin

What to drink:

Ahnapee Brewery
Algoma, Wis.

Now don’t let the word winery throw you off track. Though von Stiehl is the oldest licensed winery in Wisconsin, it’s also the brewers and purveyors of some fine full-flavored craft beers that harken back to old regional lagers dating to the Civil War at the Algoma Tap Room, which is just two doors down from the winery

Undecided? At von Stiehl’s you’ll also find traditional wines like a highly regarded Cabernet Savignon and best-selling Reisling. Still want more choice? Then make sure you sample some of their specialty products like the brandy fortified cherry wine.

Leinenkugel
Chippewa Falls, Wis.

Heritage counts in perfecting a great brew, and the founder of this brewery, Jacob Leinenkugel, started the business in 1867. Today, the fifth generation of Leinenkugels carry that great tradition forward. To hoist a foam topped glass to your lips is to sip from a long tradition of German brewers who, for decades, made Wisconsin the epicenter of American beer. Tours are free, and the sampling generous. Dining is also fun at the adjacent restaurant, Leinie’s.

Colorado

What to drink:

Gunnison, COGunnison Brewery
Gunnison, Colo.

On the western slope of Colorado the town of Gunnison is in the heart of Rocky Mountain hiking, fly fishing, hunting and boating activities, and the Gunnison Brewery is a great place to enjoy a pint after a full day of Colorado sunshine. Open year-round, this modestly sized craft brewery cranks up the volume especially during summer with several unique batches brewed each week. Names like “Mountain Mild,” “Gunrack Golden,” and “River Day Pale Ale,” pay tribute to the great outdoor adventures you’ll find all along the Gunnison river and its tributaries.

Denver Breweries

Denver’s known for its 300 days a year of sunshine and, from Denver to Fort Collins, the area has one of the nation’s largest collection of breweries from the biggest names in beer: Coors in Golden, Anheuser Busch in Fort Collins and dozens of smaller breweries. In downtown Denver you can rent a B-Cycle bicycle and ride between several craft breweries within a one mile radius. This is one heck of an adventurous and fun way to spend an afternoon or evening. Many of these breweries don’t serve food, but not to worry — great food trucks are always parked out in front.

-Prost Brewing Company

-Strange Craft Beer Company

-Wynkoop Brewing Company

-Denver Beer Co.

 

California

What to drink:

The Alpine Beer Company
Alpine, Calif.

In 2002, firefighter Pat Mcilhenney opened The Alpine Beer Company. As demand for boutique beers has rapidly grown, so has Alpine Beer. In 2009, Pat retired as a chief and, along with his wife and son, devotes his time to pursuing beer perfection.

Some the names alone will give you a sense of why many Southern Californians find it an easy trip to drive up to the cooler mountain climate of Alpine and quench their thirst with beers named: Willy Vanilly, Apricot Nectar, Captain Stout and Pure Hoppiness.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Chico, Calif.

If the name sounds familiar to you, it should. Started in 1980 by home brewers Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi, Sierra Nevada is the second best-selling craft beer in the United States and the seventh largest brewery. Yet despite its lofty position in the beer hierarchy, a visit to its tap room still reflects its small town roots.

Of course, its well-known Pale Ale with its unique piney and grapefruit aromas is a great place to start. However, this is also a great opportunity to sample some of the other tasty, but lesser known brews such as the Torpedo Extra IPA, Old Chico Brand Crystal Wheat and Belgian-Style Blonde IPA.

Oregon

What to drink:

Ninkasi Brewing Company
Eugene, Ore.

Ninkasi is the Sumerian goddess of fermentation, which co-owners Nikos Ridge and Jamie Floyd think is a pretty perfect name for their boutique 55-barrel brewing system that has a capacity of 95,000 barrels per year.

The brewery is located in Eugene’s historic Whiteaker neighborhood. And it’s well worth coming for the free tour of the entire process, topped off by one of he Ninkasi family of brands: Flagship, Seasonal Release, Special Release, Prismatic Lager, Single Hop, and R&D Series.

So there you have it — a good start and a little inspiration to see America through the bottom of an empty, frosty glass beer mug. Enjoy the ride, the sights and fun, and above all, drink responsibly.