10 Fiercely Local Beers That Define Their Region

Drink Lists

From Rainier near Puget Sound to Dogfish devotees on the other side of the country, communities are passionate about the brews they produce, many of which can only be enjoyed in the brewery’s hometown. The limited distribution of the beer only seems to enhance its cult following, while also turning the beer into a sort of landmark for the region.

Just look at National Bohemian, a Mid-Atlantic brand that’s as much a part of Baltimore’s character as the National Harbor. Or Lone Star—you haven’t experienced Texas until you’ve sucked down a long neck of the Star in the heat. And Asheville isn’t beer city without a pint of Pisgah Pale.

Paste has rounded up 10 fiercely local beers that help define their part of the country. You’re not a beer tourist until you’ve had these brews in their natural environment.

Yuengling (Yuengling Brewery—Pottsville, PA)

In areas of Pennsylvania, all you need to say is “lager.” The barkeep will nod, understanding you’re no mere tourist, and pour you a Yuengling lager. The nation’s oldest brewery is known far and wide these days, but you can still only get it in select areas (recent expansion news to nearby Massachusetts even made headlines.) Don’t tell the locals that you like some craft brew better.

Saranac (Matt Brewing—Utica, NY)

Central New Yorkers don’t clog I-90 en route to Utica often, but they come out in troves to simply run to this brewery once a year. If your pale ale can convince people to run a 15k called the Boilermaker, you’re on to something. It’s smooth yet filling enough for those brutal winters.

Bell’s (Bell’s Brewery—Kalamazoo, MI)

Beer in B1G country isn’t all Great Lakes and Leinenkugel. While Bell’s is seemingly non-existent out west, it’s a must-order no matter where you find it back east, particularly the Bell’s Porter. It’s not a stout, but it is full bodied—and its coffee and chocolate notes mean you often can’t pour just one.

Narragansett —(Narragansett Brewing, Providence, RI)

The northeast is dominated by classics delivered in a can—Genesee, Iron City, etc.—but none are as welcoming as Narragansett. It’s slogan is literally “Hi Neighbor, have a Gansett.” You can order it with just those last two syllables in the right places. Narragansett has a long history: once the largest brewery in New England, a logo designed by Dr. Seuss, a partnership with the Red Sox…The latest chapter saw the brewery rightfully revived in its original state, and it’s been delivering its signature bock since.

Pisgah (Pisgah Brewing—Black Mountain, NC)

There’s a reason Pisgah —with 15 brews on tap, open seven days a week to visitors—has become a destination. Black Mountain may not register immediately for a non-local, but it’s close to Asheville, which is quickly becoming Beer City for the South (if not the US). It’s hard to pick one regional beer to rule them all out of the crowd, but twist our arm and it’s Pisgah Pale.

Lone Star (Lone Star Brewing Company—San Antonio, TX)

Forget that Pabst now owns the brand or that it’s brewed elsewhere too. Shiner may be the one you’ll see in the wild, but Lone Star is what’s known as “The National Beer of Texas” (and what may or may not be the basis for King of the Hill’s fictitious Alamo beer). It may be the only brew in the country where its regional pride is only equaled by that of some iconic football team.

Russian River (Russian River Brewing—Santa Rosa, CA)

San Francisco is a land of many IPA-loving beer snobs (term of endearment). So chances are when someone passes you a glass that makes you sit back and exclaim, “Dear lord, what is that??”—Russian River was responsible. From Pliny The Elder (double IPA) to Consecration (a sour), Sonoma is in no way just about wine.

Bohemian (National Brewing Company—Baltimore, MD)

What’s the saying, “crab cakes and football—that’s what Maryland does!”? Clearly the folks in Wedding Crashers didn’t hang out in Baltimore enough. Natty Boh (don’t call it by its full name) is another long history/now brewed elsewhere gem. How Bunk and McNulty never “crushed Bohs” on The Wire may be the series’ biggest inaccuracy.

NOLA (NOLA Brewing—New Orleans, LA)

You may feel like you’re getting a bit of the Crescent City with that Abita you can sip seemingly everywhere, but locals will tell you NOLA beers are where it’s at. The NOLA Brown is your standard at any city dive, but the selection of brews honoring local icons (like the Hopitoulas IPA or Hurricane Saison) is worth finding.

Boulevard (Boulevard Brewing—Kansas City, MO)

There’s a reason people were up in arms about the recent Duvel acquisition—you can’t say “beer” in the Midwest without being offered a Boulevard. Whether it’s the wheat (appropriately everywhere to combat the heat) or the enigmatic Tank 7 (a saison/ale combo that legend states is made in the company’s finicky fermenter), Boulevard is clearly the big brew on the Midwestern block, er, boulevard.

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