President of Beers: #26

Snake River Lager: Snake River Brewing, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

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.

#26 Snake River Lager: Snake River Brewing, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

State: Given the enormous size and harsh living conditions of Alaska it's hard to believe another state could compete for lowest population density, but Wyoming found a way. There's plenty of natural beauty to be found with Yellowstone in the northwest, the Rocky Mountains in the center, and the High Plains in the east. But if you didn't come for the nature, I'm not sure what to tell you–I guess you could check out Dick Cheney's place in Casper.

Brewery: Jackson Hole is a small town and Snake River Brewing is a fittingly small brewery. An award winning small brewery. In fact, Snake River was named "Small Brewery of the Year" at the Great American Beer Festival in 2000 and 2001.

Beer: A sweet, malty Viennese style lager served in a can.

Difficulty of obtaining in Oregon: Moderate. It doesn't distribute in Oregon but you can find it in neighboring Idaho.

Rating: 63.25


Reviewing lagers is an unenviable task. There's no distinctive aroma or taste to write about. It's beer in its most generic form—at least, American-style lagers are. Luckily Snake River Brewing brews a Vienna lager. Where the former is pale and disgusting, the latter is darker in color, heavier, and come with a toasted malt flavor. 

Amber in hue, malty and sweet in taste, Snake River Lager was a pleasant surprise. It starts off with a caramel malt nose and maintains that same mellow, saccharine taste throughout. The beer goes down exceptionally smooth. It may be a lager, but it's a damned fine lager. 

Wyoming may be the least populous state in the union but that didn't prevent it from making a significant contribution to craft beer: the glass growler. The first growler refill station in the country was even in Jackson Hole, the same town that brought us this beer.

Charlie Otto founded Wyoming's first brewery, Grand Teton Brewing, in 1988. However, state law prevented it from selling beer for consumption on premises—which wouldn't be legal until 1992. The brewery was too small to begin bottling and not everyone wanted an entire keg, and so Otto devised the glass 64 oz container we all know and love: the growler.

People had been taking beer home with them in metal containers for decades, but glass proved a more sanitary and effective system. It caught on and now brewpubs all across the country use them. 

His work here done, Charlie Otto and Grand Teton left Wyoming to move onto bigger and better things: Idaho.

Click on a state to read more President of Beers posts: 

WWeek 2015

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.