The ultimate tasting guide for Brew HaHa
Few principles trump journalistic integrity. Necessity demands thorough research from reporters coupled with properly vetted sources. These principles of reporting and research are what I hold most dear when approaching an assignment.
So, naturally, when my editor asked if I wanted to preview some of the breweries appearing at Brew HaHa, I accepted the challenge of providing an accurate account for our readers with a laser focus on good old-fashioned investigative journalism.
With that standard in mind, and mulling the heavy burden of the accompanying responsibility, I thought to myself, "It's time to drink."
Now in its 22nd year, Brew HaHa returns to the Nugget Casino Resort on Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. for VIPs) to raise money for the Sierra Arts Foundation and bring the joy of beer to a city that, frankly, probably has a serious alcohol problem …hobby … whatever.
In any regard, I didn’t want readers to be overwhelmed by choosing from more than 100 beers made by some of the best brewers in the country, so I set out to do some of the heavy lifting to share. Seriously, I only did this for you (and not in any way because I love beer).
With that, here are my enthusiastically researched recommendations with a mind toward variety and choice (and IPAs):
Utah might not seem like a haven for brewers but any drinker who has ever been stuck at Salt Lake City International Airport can attest that it’s not a barren landscape. Wasatch’s signature Polygamy Porter and Squatter’s Hell’s Keep are great choices for the porter and Belgian ale fans, respectively.
Eugene’s Ninkasi is one of the highlights and a must stop for Brew HaHa attendees. As with many Oregon brewers (see more ahead), Ninkasi does good work with India Pale Ales. Total Domination IPA is its signature brew and it’s great, while Tricerahops Double IPA is also a winning choice. Quantum Pale Ale is another solid option.
Even in Oregon, few, if any, beer scenes can beat that of Bend, Oregon. Even in a crowded scene, Deschutes Brewery stands out. Many will have tasted the Black Butte Porter, but Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Inversion IPA also are tasty choices. If you’re looking for a deeper, more robust choice, Obsidian Stout will be right up your alley.
10 Barrel Brewing Co.
Some might look at the presence of Anheuser-Busch as a negative here. That would be a mistake. Another Bend-based brewer, 10 Barrel is well known for producing great IPAs, including Apocalypse IPA and Joe IPA.
Elysian Brewing Co.
Another recent A-B purchase, this Seattle brewery has been producing beer for more than 20 years. The Immortal IPA and Space Dust IPA are two favorites.
Some people don’t like beer. I don’t understand those people, but I suppose they deserve choices, too. If you’re into a little fruitier flavor, Stiegl Grapefruit is a good option. Pro tip: it’s also great with breakfast. Now, quit asking yourself how I know that and move along.
Not exactly a secret, I challenge anyone to describe Ballast Point’s beer without the use of “awesome.” Whether your flavor is Sculpin IPA, Longfin Lager or Victory at Sea (Imperial Porter), there are no bad choices.
Alibi Ale Works
Aside from the best logo in the business – if you're into top hats and excellent mustaches (and I don't know why you wouldn't be) – be sure to support these local brewers at the Brew HaHa and check out their assortment of brews. Taste the Tahoe (you’re welcome for the new slogan).
The other guys
Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, Alaska, Guinness, Lagunitas, Kona, etc. There are plenty of bigger, well-known brewers slated for the Brew HaHa who make great beer. If that’s your jam, you’ll hear no arguments here. And, as always, adventure is the key to a happy and full life. Branch out on your own and try as many different beers as you can (just like I did in researching this story for you). There are too many good beers not to find something you like and let’s be real, you’re not buying a ticket to leave sober.