(CBS) Oregonians have long had a love of all things beer, so it’s not surprising that Portland is the unofficial brewery capital of America.
It has more breweries than any other city in the world – 35 – is the biggest craft brewing market in the country, and proudly answers to the nickname “Beervana.”
There are more than 100 breweries in Oregon, all of which sell their beer in Portland. Last year, the state’s breweries made more than 1 million barrels of craft beer.
From late June to late July, Portland has three beer festivals with more than 100,000 people attending.
And, this year is the 25th anniversary of the passing of the law in Oregon (one of the first of its kind in the country) that allows people to consume beer on the premises where it’s brewed, which launched the whole brewpub movement.
So, “The Early Show on Saturday Morning” hand-picked five craft beers from Brewvana as the best in America, and called on Food and Wine magazine Executive Wine Editor Ray Isle to fill us in on the choices, as part of our special Fourth of July tour of places that make the nation’s best food. We call it A Taste of America.
Widmer Hefeweizen: A great American version of a German wheat beer. It’s a little tangy, and very refreshing. A great summer beer. I’d pair it with grilled seafood, raw oysters, that sort of thing.
Full Sail Session Lager: The beer world divides its product into lagers and ales; it has to do with the type of yeast used and the brewing process. But an easy rule of thumb is that lagers are like white wine (lighter, crisper), and ales are like red wine (bigger, richer, more powerful). Full Sail makes a great, tasty lager, good with almost anything. Personally, I’d drink it with hot dogs off the grill, but it’s also a classic all-purpose beer: chicken, potato chips, pretzels, you name it.
Deschutes Green Lakes Ale: This is an ale, so it’s richer and darker than the Full Sail Session Lager. What’s especially cool is that it’s made from organic ingredients. Deschutes is based in Bend, Ore., but it has a brewpub in Portland, too. I’d drink this with a hamburger; for me, ales like this are ideal burger wines.
Bridgeport IPA: Another ale; this was a style invented by the British, called India Pale Ale. Hops, one of the ingredients of beer, act as a preservative, so the British made an especially hoppy brew to ship on the long voyage to India. Hops also add flavor-a kind of citrusy, piney, bitter note that’s very pronounced in IPAs. I think they’re great with fried foods — anything from fried shrimp to French fries — the bitterness kind of wakes up your mouth after all that rich fried coating.
Rogue Dead Guy Ale: This is a darker, more intense style of ale (technically, it’s a German style called a Maibock). It’s a bit higher in alcohol — 6.5 percent — with a toasty, malty character and real texture to it. This is my go-to for big, spicy foods: sausages on the grill, barbecued ribs, that kind of thing.
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