President of Beers: #46

Belgian-Style Tripel: Bridge Brew Works, Fayetteville, West Virginia

We're drinking the flagship craft beer from every state in the Union, counting down from 50-1, to find which is home to the President of Beers.

#46: Belgian-Style Tripel: Bridge Brew Works, Fayetteville, West Virginia

State: Wild, wonderful West Virginia, the most rustic Eastern state. Good ol’ West Virginny is home to real wilderness and lots of colorful residents.

Brewery: Bridge Brew Works, named for the massive new River Gorge Bridge that gracing the state’s quarter. The brewery is run by two very nice guys who are new to commercial brewing but seem plenty ambitious.

Beer: A polarizing Belgian style Tripel, which I actually liked a lot, scoring in the 90s, as other tasters commented that it was “too sweet and fruity.” It’s low score was only four.

Difficulty of Obtaining in Oregon: Very difficult. This beer is only distributed in West Virginia. There are not a lot of beer geeks from the small and rural state active in the beer trading scene. Unless you know someone there who will send it you you’re probably not getting it.

Rating: 51.3

PHOTO: Cameron Browne

Oregon’s Timberline ski lodge is famous. The only North American ski resort open year-round, scene of The Shining, with 3,600 vertical feet on the side of a gorgeous glaciated peak. On the other hand, West Virginia’s Timberline has great biscuits and gravy.

It’s probably news to most Oregonians—and I’m sure to some West Virginians—but this country actually has two ski resorts called Timberline. I’ll bet here aren’t many people in the country who’ve actually skied both, given how small and remote the resort in Davis, West Virginia is, but I have. And despite the Mt. Hood slopes being better by every measure—it’s 14 times as large and three times as tall and its ornate Depression-era lodge has unbeatable atmosphere—I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite.

The Caanan (that’s kuh-NAIN) Valley’s Timberline is a pleasantly scrappy little resort with slow and unsteady lifts, the Southeast’s longest run, a cruiser called Salamander, and pretty decent snow. By Eastern standards, anyway. And, unlike our Timberline, you can actually ski right up to your cheap rental cabin. That has a hot tub. Did I mention the biscuits and gravy?

There’s something special about the hills of West Virginia. It’s the Western-most Eastern state—in attitude and appearance, if not geography. Laid-back, friendly folks, tall mountains, fast rivers and a simple life. If Oregon has to share the name of our best ski slopes with anyone back East, they’re most worthy.

Oh, yes, but about the beer. Well, West Virginians drink their fair share of it, but it’s mostly cheap domestic stuff.

The state’s laws are utterly ridiculous—technically, all beer sold has to be “non-intoxicating beer” which until recently meant only up to 6 percent alcohol, but is now 12 percent ABV; bars serve until 3:30 am but you can’t buy beer before NFL kickoff on Sunday—and craft beer has grown slowly and unevenly.

But here’s the thing: outdoorsy states tend to be the beery states. The biggest beer drinking states, per capita, are New Hampshire, Montana and North Dakota—places awash in natural splendor. Places like West Virginia. And craft beer? Well, nationally, the two places with the highest percentage of craft beer drinkers are neighboring Virginia and Washington DC.

Virginians will deny it, but there isn’t much seperating the two states, which split up because West Virginia was too progressive for their neighbors. If Virginians have gone crazy for craft beer, their cousins to the West will, too.

Give it a little time. Until then, there's this...

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