One of the things we here in the Pacific Northwest pride ourselves on is amazing craft beer.
On the westernly most edge of this region lies a small town called Victor, Idaho. This wonderful little town is tucked away in the mountains and mixed forests of eastern Idaho along the Wyoming border. The Grand Teton Brewing Company calls this small town home and wow, their beer is some of the best I have ever had the privilege of drinking. Now, hops can be used for many things, but I think we all can agree that making beer is the best usage of this wonderful crop and the good folks at Grand Teton do it best.
The adventure towards beer greatness began in 1988 with Charlie and Ernie Otto establishing the Otto Brothers’ Brewing Company in Wilson, Wyoming. In 1989, the Otto Brothers gifted us all with the first glass Growler that we all know and love today. By 1998, to keep up with the demand for their great beer, they broke ground on a new facility in Victor, Idaho and soon moved their brewing operation into it’s new home. The name change over to the Grand Teton Brewing Company took place in the year 2000 to make the brand more regionally marketable. The brewery was moved to Victor because they felt that the Idaho Teton Valley was then and is now the best place in the world to make beer. Glacier runoff water, Teton Valley malting barley, and Southeastern Idaho hops all come together to make their unique beers and they have me convinced.
Their selection of beer varies based on your preference; want a light ‘session’ beer? Try the Ale 208. This is their ‘light’ beer coming in at 4.7% ABV but only 16 IBU, that means is has a good amount of alcohol but is easy to drink. This beer not being too malty, too hoppy, or too fizzy but rather a great balance of them all is what makes it a solid session beer. Want an IPA? Go for the Pursuit of Hoppiness. Weighing in at 8.5% ABV and a solid 100 IBU, it makes the hopheads happy but is easily drinkable by anyone. Strong hop flavor is softened by maltiness without either losing it’s IPA nature or being overly bitter.
I ran the gamut and tried everything they had on tap, you know, for science. I had to be sure all their beers were good….yeah. Anyway they were all great but there was only one that captured me in it’s murky depths and enthralled my tastebuds (and possibly my very soul): the Whiskey Barrel-Aged Black Cauldron. Slight sweetness of the whiskey roiled together with the smoothness of stout flavor all completely devoid of bitterness. Words will never do this brew justice but I can say with confidence and conviction, this is the best beer I have ever had. Period. Best way to describe it, imagine all the best parts of whiskey and imperial stout got together and had the perfect baby, this is that brew. Lording over all with 10.25% ABV (oh yeah) and ~54 IBU this stuff is straight up black magic in liquid form. This beer of beers is only available on tap, at the brewery and nowhere else making it one of the most exclusive brews I know of. But it is a great reason to visit the brewery and sample the rest of the Cellar Reserve series.
Now having sampled all of what was on tap (and delving deeper into the inky blackness of Black Cauldron), it was time to leave. I begged the bartender Lindsey to let me have a growler of the barrel-aged Black Cauldron, but company policy prevented her from doing so. Sadness abated when I found out they they sell a sampler pack containing four of their signature beers: Amber Ale, Sweetgrass APA, Howling Wolf Weisse Bier, and Bitch Creek ESB. Now to be clear, Bitch Creek ESB is named after an actual creek in the Victor, Idaho area.
After returning home from the brewery (my wife drove me, don’t worry), I had to try the beer that they did not have on tap at the brewery. I started with the Howling Wolf Weisse Bier, an unfiltered Bavarian-style Hefeweizen. Now, normally, I dislike Hefeweizen, but this stuff has made me a convert. Well, at least for their Hefeweizen. A truly unique beer rolling in at 4.7% ABV and only 14 IBU, this brew is deliciously drinkable and I highly recommend it. Now my palate is not unrefined, but for those looking for an in-depth review, check this out.
All in all, the trip to the Grand Teton Brewery was an utter success and well worth it. Anyone that can visit the brewery I cannot recommend it enough and it ranks as my favorite thus far.
Max is a creative writer at heart but branching out into the world of blogging. A craft beer enthusiast, he loves to sample the fine beers of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. His wife Heather has stuck by him through it all and she is the reason for everything positive in his life. You can follow Max on Twitter @Max_Augustine1