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From Nevada to Illinois: A journey in collecting craft brews

Our Journey

Recently our resident Portaholic decided it was time to relocate across the United States.  Loading up her truck, she and her husband set out from the high desert of Nevada and headed for the lovely, green, luscious Midwest and they could not have left at a better time (as they just barely missed some pretty heavy snowstorms).  Here is her take on the journey, as well as her list of brews she decided to collect for “research purposes” along the way.

“Traveling 1,700 miles wasn’t a daunting concept.  Having to drive a mere 25 mph on an interstate, going down a mountain, in the dark and with no clue where the road was under all of that white was a bit irritating though.”, she stated.  We couldn’t help but smile, because this isn’t exactly an odd situation for our Wisconsin-born writer and Portaholic.  She described the trip with an air of “meh” where many would have been telling a hair-raising tale of white-outs, near disasters, and raging rig drivers.  That’s our girl.

Just barely missing the snowstorm that hit Northern Nevada, then continuing on to be a mere few hours ahead of the storms that closed down I-80 through Wyoming all the way to Cheyenne, we’re pretty sure she had some divine intervention going on, as her timing was spot on and she missed out on being snowed in through Wyoming.  We reminded her to be safe and careful, to which she said “I’m ok, I’m a Midwest farm kid.  This isn’t snow, it’s just a dusting.  Be there in a couple of days.”

During her trip she seemed to find time to collect some interesting brews to try once the trip was over.  How she found time to stop at so many places to grab a 4-pack of this, 6-pack of that, bottle of the other is beyond us and her husband simply grins and says, “She kept saying she needed it for work.”.  Dedication is great, but we still think she should have skipped the brew collecting and slept a little more.

Below is an accounting of her views on the brews she picked up.  We hope you get a chance to try some of the brews she grabbed along the way, as her effort still has us scratching our heads and wondering who thinks about collecting work samples in the middle of a building blizzard.

All brews are listed with their brewing company to help keep things in some semblance of order.  Please excuse the lack of pictures, as she said “Next time I’ll make sure to grab photos, but I doubt anyone would appreciate the brews from the outside of a Solo cup.  Yes, I went low-tech, but darnit they were good.”.

Ruby Mountain Brewing Company

  • Bristlecone Brown Porter – Naturally our Portaholic made a stop to grab some of Ruby Mountain Brewing’s porter, as it fits her style.  The flavor profile of this porter is quite interesting, with a judicious amount of malt and a seriously limited hop value to the brew.  The smoothness of the brew was surprising for such a dark brew, but fit the roasted chocolate taste perfectly.  The cost was reasonable and overall this brew is well worth making a trek for.
  • Vienna Style Lager – Thank the writer’s husband for the purchase of this one, as he’s not exactly the Porter type, but not a huge Hophead either.  The hops infusion in this brew was just the right blending, as it kept the brew from being too malty, yet didn’t add too much bitterness to the brew either.  The flavor profile was varied, as it evolved extremely well in the “glass” and the bottles saved for later will tell the tale as to whether this one ages as well as we think it will in the bottle.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

  • SnowPack Variety Pack – This variety pack includes Maple Scotch, Coffee Stout, Single Hop, and Pale Ale, all classics of Sierra Nevada.  The Coffee Stout and Maple Scotch were preferred by our writer, while her husband loved the Single Hop and Pale Ale.  The Coffee Stout paired up perfectly with their dinner of Ribeyes and Asparagus and she is planning to have more shipped out, as it is hard to find in their new location.

Great Basin Brewing Company

  • Black Rock ESB – If you’re into some awesome English-style ales, this one is definitely a must-grab.  Something about that unmalted barley infused into this brew really grabs you and makes you want to sip it all night.  Grab a pack and share, because this one will have you chatting through the night with friends while you decide whose favorite brew is the best.
  • I Am Gruit – “We picked up this brew as a gift for a friend.  If you have issues with hops (she happens to have an allergic reaction to it), you’ll be interested in this brew.  As a craft beer, it’s quite interesting, as it contains zero hops, but instead has a blend of natural herbs and flowers that come together to make a really great brew.”  While it’s not necessarily going to be your go-to craft beer, it’s a great alternative for those who can’t handle hops.

Cheyenne Brewing Company

  • CBC Porter –  CBC’s porter was the perfect reason for stopping in Cheyenne.  Even though the weather was catching up with us, we wanted to stick around longer.  Porters are either good or amazing and this one is certainly amazing.  The flavor profile was intricate on this craft brew, with hints of roasted and smoky malts that leave you dreaming of warm fires and chilly nights.  Make sure to try it if you get a chance!
  • Black Beard’s Rebel Waters – This Imperial Chocolate Stout is creamy and has an outstanding finish.  Our stop in Cheyenne was entirely worth it, because we found this stout and almost didn’t want to leave.  We didn’t get to take the brews home, which made us sad, but we’re planning another trip later this year, when there is less chance of being snowed in for a week.

Kinkaider Brewing Company

  • Devil’s Gap – This is a Jalapeno Ale and was a choice made on a whim, but it was worth it!  When it comes to the field-style craft brews, Kinkaider has it figured out.  With just a good hint of jalapeno, the brew isn’t overdone.  Instead, it has a great hop profile with just the right amount of jalapeno for kick and it really evolves well in the “glass”.  Although we wouldn’t choose it as an “every time” brew, it was a great change from the norm.
  • Herdlaw – Our Portaholic took a leap and chose this Honey Wheat Ale for herself.  Her inspiration?  The basis of the brew.  Fresh honey is used directly from the farm and the spent grains go right back to the cattle.  This was music to our farm kid Portaholic’s ears and she had to try it.  It was worth the leap, because the brew has some seriously outstanding flavor.  The color was interesting, as it seemed to vary between amber and a bit darker.  Grab some if you get a chance and support those cattle!

Rolling Meadows Brewery

  • Abe’s Ale“If you’re headed through the Midwest, stop in at this brewery in Springfield, Illinois.  Although it was a bit past our destination, I know the area well and decided it was worth the side trip.  Check out Abe’s Ale, because this maple syrup brown ale is absolutely delicious.  I love porters and tend to stick with them, but this one has been a favorite of mine for a long time.  It kicks the pants off of all the other brown ales I’ve tried.”, said our Portaholic about this local favorite.
  • White IPA – Ever think of adding Coriander to your hops to create an IPA?  These folks did and the result was awesome.  This IPA has a flavor profile that you’ll be sipping for hours just to catch each nuance as it evolves.  The locals love it too, which is saying quite a bit in an area where Bud Lite is as common as pennies.  This brew is a great reason to make Rolling Meadows a hot stop on your way through the area.

A great journey that I-80 and several snow storms couldn’t stop

We hope you get a chance to check out some of the brews that our writer grabbed on her journey across the United States.  We already know she’s planning another road trip later this year and headed down to West Palm Beach, Florida.  What we don’t know is where she plans to stop along the way, though we’re pretty sure it’ll be another treasure hunt along her route that results in a list of brews that you’ll want to check out.

This feature has been a while in the making, as the trip itself was pretty intense and the mental slow-down required to put everything together properly took a bit to complete.  We hope you enjoyed reading about the brews picked up on the way.  Check back later for some more brews that our resident Portaholic has left out of this listing, as well as those that were shipped ahead for a later feature!




Mar 14, 2017