A Visual Cheat Sheet to Drinking American Beer
Feast your eyeballs on my step-by-step guide to how to enjoy your beer of choice the way it was intended in some of America’s top beer destinations.
Photo by Jaime Bordoff
There's a fine art to beer drinking, no matter where you live in the world (unless it's Antarctica). Whether it's craft microbrews or the cheapest six pack on the shelf, hops command pride and rituals. American beer culture is varied, overwhelming, intoxicating, and delicious. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, I've helped you out—whether you find yourself as a tourist or a local—and provided you, dear reader, with my step-by-step instructions on how to imbibe in your frothy brew(s) of choice the way it was intended when you find yourself in this great nation's top beer destinations.
Vermont, the state formerly known for cheese, maple syrup, and heroin has finally found a market appealing to the rest of America: craft beer and cider. It's impossible to live in Vermont without becoming a craft beer enthusiast. Or snob. Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist, Lawson's Finest Liquids, Long Trail, Fiddlehead, Woodchuck… the list does not end. And many of Vermont's rising favorites are only available in Vermont—sometimes only in towns surrounding the brewery. How's that for pretentious? If you visit this state (make sure to wear a pair of Tevas with socks), don't be surprised to find restaurants with terrible food and awesome beer lists.
Ingredients: Carhart overalls Flannel shirt(s) One Floral Print Dress 1-2 Mason Jars
Directions: 1. Travel to Vermont via plane, train, or car (Subarus only). 2. Upon arrival, change into your Carharts, flannel, or floral print dress and blast any Rusted Root album from the '90s. 3. Pay a visit to your local breweries including, but not limited to: Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist, Lawson's Finest Liquids, and Long Trail. 4. Discuss the aroma, color, taste, body, and mouthfeel with your fellow biermeisters, preferably in a drum circle.
In Maryland, actually Baltimore, beer pride is in-your-face, almost like an assault. National Bohemian, more commonly known as "Natty Boh," is chosen over any other beer. It is the only beer here. Sure, you could opt for Flying Dog, another local Maryland favorite backed by the Gonzo duo (yes, it started in Colorado, but they've relocated to the Old Line State, so deal with it), but it clearly doesn't pair well with the Maryland crustacean which is only legally allowed to be caught, cooked, picked, and devoured after measuring its shell point-to-point against a Natty Boh can.
Ingredients: National Bohemian Beer Old Bay Pint Glass Fully Cooked Maryland Crabs (optional)
Directions: 1. Crack open a can of Natty Boh and wet the rim of pint glass. 2. Rim the pint glass with Old Bay seasoning. 3. Enjoy Bohtinis and Maryland crabs, but mostly Bohtinis.
Hawaii: Heineken. As long as it comes in green. You could drink a local Hawaiian beer, and that's fine, but that's like wearing a sign around your neck that says "MAINLANDER."
Ingredients: Swimsuit Beach Heineken
Directions: 1. Wear swimsuit and head to the beach. 2. On your way, pick up some green bottles. 3. Drink on the beach, nap on the beach, chill on the beach.
San Francisco's Dolores Park is a great place to drink beer anytime of the day in the company of hipsters, hobos, and frisbee players. If you forget to bring beer or run out, you can always get more from the "Cold Beer Cold Water" guy. This place is what it looks like on the other side of the rainbow, where unemployed days are spent lounging in America's newest/most expensive city and soaking up endless rays of vitamin C. You can join the burners playing with Devil Sticks, practicing tightrope and acro-yoga, chat about wall weavings, or swap kombucha blooms. This world is your oyster. Techies: If you must join, please leave your Google Glasses at home.
Ingredients: Anchor Steam or 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Blanket Sunglasses Kale chips Hula-hoop or frisbee (optional)
Directions: 1. Grab friends and head to Dolores Park. 2. Lay out blanket, get comfortable, pass out beers. 3. Affix sungasses to face. 4. Munch on kale chips. 5. Take a break to hula hoop or play frisbee (space permitting).
Portland and Oregon in general: See Vermont directions above. Insert tall bikes, Poler apparel, a D.I.Y. punk mentality, "Cascade Brewing Barrel House," "Laurelwood," "Deschutes," and whatever homebrew is cooking up at a community potluck gathering.
In Wisconsin—and everywhere else in the United States, excluding Baltimore—Pabst Blue Ribbon is the beverage of gods. It's like mother's milk. It's also cheap, so everyone can drink it. In PBR's motherland, it's customary to enjoy the beer with squeaky cheese curds (or any local sharp cheddar) and sausage, so combine that with Wisconsin's cheeseheads and you'll look like you've been living here longer than anyone else.
Ingredients (Wisconsin style): Sharp Wisconsin cheddar Traditional Wisconsin cheese hat (doubles as a beer koozie+ cheese bowl holder when flipped upside-down) Your finest flannel Pabst Blue Ribbon
Directions (Wisconsin-style): 1. Button your finest flannel to the top and affix cheese hat to head. 2. Head to a bar or a friends house. 3. Eat sharp Wisconsin cheddar and drink PBR after PBR after PBR.
Part of the fun in drinking beer (aside from the main reasons) is learning how to drink beer: with friends, while camping, from a beer bong, with pizza, at a microbrewery, on a farm, at a baseball game, after work, etc. However, it really doesn't matter. Crack a cold one, and God bless America.
This post originally appeared on MUNCHIES in June 2014.