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Beer was always a good enough reason for America’s breweries to exist. But in an age in which it’s not weird for a fried chicken chain to make sunscreen, breweries have the ability to sell anything they damned well please. And in many cases, the non-beery things they produce are as worthy of attention as the liquids they’re most famous for.
Here are the most interesting items breweries sell...that aren’t beers.
If you had to pin the West Coast IPA trend on a single brewery, Stone would arguably be it. And considering Stone has never shied away from unconventional beers or branding (hello, Arrogant Bastard! [a beer now made by its sibling company Arrogant Brewing]), it’s fitting that it’s now hawking an intriguing curry mustard sauce. And not just any sauce -- it won 3rd prize in the Scovie Awards (a fiery foods & barbecue competition) in the mustard category. Perhaps more importantly, it's made with Stone’s classic Ruination Double IPA. The condiment may sound unconventional, but it’s tough to bet against a brewery that’s been so reliable for this long.
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If you haven’t been to Surly’s beer palace in the Twin Cities, it’s time to book a trip now. We’ll wait. Got your tickets yet? You made a great decision! Like many modern beer production facilities, Surly’s spot not only features a beer hall that serves fantastic food, but it also harbors a gift shop. The store stocks a slew of items beyond hoodies and koozies that are worth flying home with. One of those is the Overrated soap, handmade by Prior Lake, Minnesota-based suds!. The shower staple is infused with Surly’s popular West Coast IPA, and delivers all the fruity flavors you’d expect from such a beer. Even though it’d be great if the soap just smelled like the beer, it also exhibits notes of tangerine, fir needle, and vanilla.
Well before Dogfish distributed its off-centered beers all across this great land, it ran a popular brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, DE, which is most certainly still kickin’. You remember that trip you booked while reading the last paragraph? Make sure there’s a detour in there to Delaware so you can visit the Dogfish pub, which has been known for its beer-infused sausages. Now, with the help of the natural meat company Hans, a line of brats made with its brews are in plenty of supermarkets across the country. Among the more interesting offerings in the line of four meat tubes are the Spicy Espresso Chicken Brat made with draft-only Chicory Stout, and the Heirloom Italian Pork Brat made with Midas Touch. The latter liquid is a hybrid wine/mead/beer made with ingredients found in King Midas’ tomb, so expect the brat to turn your grill tools to gold.
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Most breweries offer some sort of swag, so one that sells winter hats doesn’t sound like much of a big deal on the surface. But on a trip I took to Bend, both 10 Barrel and GoodLife were selling hats with Koosh ball-like tops along with their delicious beer. Wearing the brightly-colored head warmers took me back to when I was 10-years-old and my mom had just dropped me off at the bus stop in the wintertime. Granted, I initially thought I looked like a rejected South Park character -- but now I can’t stop thinking about how those hats will someday pair with some Deschutes-branded OshKosh B’Gosh overalls.
It should be no surprise that the San Francisco beer brand that was brewing before it was cool (way back in 1896) was also way, way ahead of America’s modern day obsession with rye whiskey. Anchor’s Distilling arm was founded in ‘93, and the company still releases a line of well-respected whiskies. The distillery also releases gin and vodka, but the Old Potrero rye is so unique because it’s a recreation of traditional, old-school American whiskey. Drinking this is cheaper than calling up Doc Brown and speeding in the Delorean back to the 1800s.
You may have heard from a certain beer publication that San Diego’s Modern Times is gonna be one of the next big things in beer. And that’s true, because that publication is never wrong! But you might not know that the brewery also roasts its own dang coffee beans. Not just a one-off roast so that it can use it in its renowned Black House coffee stout, either -- at Modern Times, you’ll find beans from small farms in Ethiopia and Rwanda. You might also find that some of the coffee is sold out, because it’s that damned popular. But the brewery has you covered if you need your regular caffeine fix. Its online store offers a monthly subscription that’ll ship you 12 ounces of the Ethiopian and Sumatra mocha java-style blend used in that Black House beer, and a bag of barrel-aged coffee or single origin beans.
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Okay, you have to add one more stop to your trip. I know: I told you it was just going to be two quick hops over to nearby Minneapolis and Rehoboth Beach, but you must add Fletcher, NC (20 minutes outside of Asheville), to the list. That’s because Sierra Nevada built a showstopping temple to beer there, and on their taproom menu are wings prepared with Torpedo Hot Sauce. It’s the only vinegar-based hot sauce on the planet that uses Sierra Nevada’s hop-filled beerstravaganza, Torpedo Extra IPA. Luckily the sauce isn’t 7.2% ABV like the beer, so feel free to generously douse it on your wings without worrying about needing to call a car service at the end of the night.
Ask anyone (not from North Carolina, South Carolina, or Kansas City), and they’ll tell you that Texas is the best place in the country to eat barbecue. And if you are eating Texas BBQ, you’d be silly not to pair it with one of TX’s favorite brews since 1913: Shiner. So it makes perfect sense that anyone with a love of BBQ and beer can combine the two with this “peppery, Texas-style sauce” made with actual Shiner Bock. We don’t want to blow your mind here, but... imagine, for a moment, a plate of brisket slathered with Shiner BBQ Sauce, alongside a nice, neat glass of Anchor whiskey. Yeah. Sit with that for a moment.
Note: 10 Barrel Brewing is a member of The High End, owned by Anheuser-Busch.