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Your State's Best Beer: Part Three

Eno Sarris, November 13, 2014 -   

We've been traveling state-to-state, looking at the best beer in each state by our leaderboards. 

Last week, we made our way through Nevada, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Alabama, Utah, Hawaii, Alaska, Montana, and even previewed #19 in Oklahoma. Now it's time to get into some of the superstar states with their superstar beers. 

(We're going a little slower now because I'm trying to clean up the 'origins' information for each state as we go. If you notice a beer that's in our system but not on a state board, please let us know!)

#32) Mississippi -- Crooked Letter Mystery Romp Porter (6.78 BAR, 132 Style+, 6.8 ABV)

You're not going to find many Mississippi beers outside of the state, so let's allow the Mystery Romp to represent the state. Yeah, it's mostly just available at the brewery or on tap, but it's not like you'll find a ton of Lazy Magnolia beers outside of the state. And Lucky Town's story is about the same, even if they do own the next three beers on the state leaderboard. This Mystery Romp is an earthy chocolate porter with a nice creamy mouthfeel, and you can actually find it in bottles if your timing is right. Being 32% better than your average porter is nothing to sneeze at. 

#31) Georgia -- Burnt Hickory Courageous Conductor (6.97 BAR, 142 Style+, 8 ABV)

When you think of Georgia, you may think of Terrapin, or Sweetwater if you're not thinking about peaches or peanuts. Those two breweries have the widest distribution, and they have some great beers. But when you think of Georgia, perhaps you should really think about Burnt Hickory. They own seven of the top ten beers in the state! So we'll give the Courageous Conductor the top spot, even if there are possible shenanigans at play -- the Conductor is listed as a fruit beer instead of a porter, and by all accounts its really a porter with cherry, vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry flavors. Then again, it's light and airy for a porter, and so maybe it's really classified correctly. Interesting beer! If it weren't for this beer, Terrapin might 'steal' best in the state with their Cinnamon Roll'd Wake-n-Bake Oatmeal Porter, a great beer in its own right. 

#30) Virginia -- Hardywood Park Gingerbread Stout (7.24 BAR, 123 Style+, 9.2 ABV)

Virginia has a robust craft brewery scene! 16 pages of beers! Craft is healthy, and it's all over the state -- not just Arlington and Richmond, but Port City, Norfolk, Harrisonburg, Ashland, and even Appomattox feature strong breweries doing their thing. But Hardywood Park's GBS ranks #1, #2, and #11 on the top 25 for the state, so it easily takes top honors. The bourbon barrel version gets a little bit less love -- perhaps it's around less -- so it's the straight up ginger, licorice, honey, roasted malt milk stout that we'll award tops in a busy state. Reports say it's not even too sweet for a sweet milk stout. Go tour this state. Go drink this beer. 

#29) Maryland -- Stillwater Gose Gone Wild (7.28 BAR, 133 Style+, 4.6 ABV)

Only two states boast a weaker number one by alcohol content, but Gose Gone Wild is a strong name in the industry. A bright lemony tart gose with Brettanomyces and Citra and Amarillo hops, the Gose Gone Wild still ends with the salty sour of a traditional gose, but it packs more of a punch that maybe the grandpas of the style. You don't normally get much hops when you go gose, so this is a standout beverage worth acquiring even if you're out of state. And the state's number two -- DuClaw's Sweet Baby Jesus, a peanut butter milk stout -- is equally unique. Cheers to Maryland! It goes much deeper than Flying Dog. 

#28) Arizona -- Four Peaks Pumpkin Porter (7.35 BAR, 128 Style+, 6.2 ABV)

Go to Arizona enough -- as I do -- and you'll notice some nice smaller breweries developing around the edges of Phoenix. O.H.S.O, for example. Sonoran. Arizona Wilderness. But it's not touristy to reward Four Peaks the best beer in the state, either. They've earned their stature as the go-to name when you come to town. Strange, perhaps, that this is the only state led by a pumpkin beer. Especially since autumn is just when the temperature drops to double digits and you can venture outside again in much of the state. This pumpkin porter, though, is understated and not as sweet as many in the style. Which speaks well for the beer. 

#27) Washington -- Fremont Cowiche Canyon Organic Fresh Hop (8.05 BAR, 131 Style+, 6 ABV)

Yes. Of course. Of course Washington's entry is a fresh hop IPA. Yakim Valley is pretty much the epicenter of American hops, so they can fresh hop fresher than you can. As with many fresh hop beers, there's an herbal, earthy feel to this light-ABV IPA, but the taste is all west coast -- piney, citrus, with some of that mango and fruit that's in today's best pale ales. Fremont crowds the crowded state boards with the four top entries, but three are variations on there Bourbon Abominable. Elysian has four different beers in the top ten, including the beer some might have expected -- Space Dust IPA. That's allright. If you're headed to this state, you're making time for more than just two breweries and two beers. 

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