The unofficial offical coctail thing got me thinking--if Oregon were to designate an official beer, what would it be? (We have already lost "official beverage" status--in '97 the legislature named milk.) A few candidates spring to mind:
- Hefeweizen. Bona fides: the Widmer Brother's best-seller has long been the beer most associated with the state, and it's probably still the best-seller.
- Light Lager (ala Henry Weinhard's). Bona fides: it was the best-selling style of beers for over 100 years.
- Stout. Bona fides: Oregon's craft revolution was built in substantial part by the McMenamin's, and they boldly led with Terminator--perhaps the biggest anti-Bud statement they could have made.
- Amber Ale. Bona fides: one of the first micro-era beers to be designated a new American style, in part thanks to Full Sail's amber. MacTarnahan's added to the mix.
- Porter. Although stouts were there early, Deschutes also gets credit for putting Black Butte on the market early and counteri-intuitively. Everyone loves a good porter.
- Pale ale. Bona fides: pale ales highlight the unique character of Northwest hopping, particularly Cascades (Mirror Pond, Caldera, Full Sail, etc.). They are ubiquitous in American craft brewing, but they're characteristically Oregon.
- Fresh hop ales. Bona fides: it's a little early to make the claim, but these could come to characterize Oregon like no other beer. We now appear to be way ahead of the curve on this, and given that so few places have access to fresh hops, we may hold the distinction for some time.
- IPA. Bona fides: this style really captures the essence of Oregon tastes--strong and bitter. I wouldn't be surprised if more beer consumed in Oregon was IPA than any other.