Got 90 hours, a pocket full of gas money, and an undying thirst for malty beverages? Then hop in the car and strap an empty cooler into the back seat for a cross-country beer road trip you'll never forget.
Below is a list of stops on this ideal tour, one that will introduce you to the specific must-try offerings at the very best breweries in the most important beer regions of the country. Don't sweat it if you're navigationally challenged: we've already mapped the route out for you.
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Kick off your voyage on the east coast at Victory Brewing, which offers one of the best pilsners in the United States. Victory's Prima Pils is one of very few lagers to pay homage to the traditional crisp, dry, and spicy German style while maintaining an American identity with a bright, citrusy hop kick. What a clean, classy way to start a tour.
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Next, go from 0 to 60 by heading to Bell's Eccentric Café for a Hopslam Ale, a brew that couldn't be more different from a traditional pilsner. With six hop varieties and a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe, Hopslam is an explosively tasty—but balanced—imperial IPA. Just be careful here: at 10% ABV, you'll likely need to take a long break from driving after downing only one or two.
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Daisy Cutter Pale Ale is not only a Midwestern staple—it's quite arguably the best pale ale in Chicago. Bursting with citrus and hop resin, Half Acre's flagship pale ale certainly dances on the border of west coast IPA ground—but its delicately floral aroma makes it unmistakably identifiable as a beloved Chi-town staple.
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By the time you arrive from Chicago to Denver, you'll be all too happy to Hima-lay-ya hands upon a Yeti Imperial Stout: a dark roasted, rich, chocolatey beer from one of the longest standing breweries in Denver, Great Divide. But your Yeti sighting isn't over yet: next, try Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout, Yeti's "sophisticated sibling" aged on a blend of new French and American oak chips for hints of vanilla and wood tannins.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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After all of that high-gravity booze, you'll be ready for a break. Luckily—thanks to Mormon influence on alcohol laws—all draught beer in Utah must be less than 4% alcohol by volume. Enter Park City's Hooker Blonde Ale, which goes down as easy as you might guess. Spalt hops give this beer—as nuanced as it is crushable—a deliciously herbal, spicy touch.
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Ever had a golden coffee milk stout before? Most people haven't—until they drop by Noble Ale Works for a glass of Naughty Sauce, one of the coolest beers ever made. Brewed with oats and lactose and infused with three pounds per barrel of Guatemalan coffee, it looks like a blonde ale, pours like a creamy nitro-infused stout, and tastes like pure heaven.
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There's enjoying a visit to a brewery and then there's loving a brewery so much it inspires you to build a house on its front lawn. The latter will be the case if you venture 30 minutes outside of downtown Austin, TX, for some of the best sour beer you'll ever taste in your life. Jester King's spontaneously fermented Atrial Rubicite is aged in oak barrels with raspberries for a perfect balance of tart and fruit flavors. It certainly won't hurt your drinking experience that the 200-acre farm on which the beer is brewed is absolutely breathtaking.
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You can't come to the South without eating BBQ—and you can't leave without trying a smoked beer. Enter Sue, one of the best smoked porters around, brought to you by Yazoo Brewing. Big, rich, and smoky, Sue is a malt bomb balanced by Galena and Perle hops that, at 9% ABV, also happens to pack quite a boozy punch.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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No cross-country beer trip would be complete without a stop in Asheville, known to many as "Beer City, USA." Of all breweries there, Wicked Weed stands out not only for its incredible double IPAs, but for the sours it produces in its famed Funkatorium. Their Black Angel Cherry Sour, aged in Four Roses bourbon barrels with cherries and plums, features tart, fruity flavors balanced by rich vanilla and graham cracker notes for a unique beer that evokes cherry pie.
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Finally, close out your long journey with the brewery that helped put craft beer on the map. Dogfish Head's 60 Minute IPA, an IPA continuously hopped with more than 60 Northwest hop additions over a 60-minute boil, has been so influential on American craft beer that it should be adopted as our national beverage. Balanced and undeniably drinkable, it's the ideal way to wrap up a perfect beer road trip.