Washington State's Pyramid Brewery is an astonishing success in the microbrew world, from humble beginnings in 1984 in a converted general store to a $30-million-a-year NASDAQ-traded company. The company also runs three brewpubs in Washington State and California, where alehouses offer daily tours complete with samplings. The IPA is tightly wound and kicky, with a distinctive bitterness that comes from Tomahawk hops.
WILD GOOSE IPA ($7 Per Six-Pack)
Wild Goose brewery was acquired in 1998 by Frederick Brewing, a successful microbrew operation in Frederick, Maryland. Frederick's brewmaster had already made an underground name for himself by being the first to incorporate sterilized hemp seeds into his beers. (At least he was the first as far as anyone can remember.) Frederick Brewing wisely decided to retain the unique line of Wild Goose beers, including the creamy, utterly drinkable Wild Goose IPA.
Frederick Brewing itself was then purchased a year later by Ohio-based Snyder Brewing, which had just been founded by an entrepreneuring ex-technology consultant. If you're not following the corporate intrigue, don't worry. Lucky for us, the Wild Goose brand still retains its own identity. This IPA is a favorite quaff along the Chesapeake Bay, where it helps take the steam out of the muggy summers. Now it's reaching the wider public it so richly deserves.
SNAKE DOG IPA ($7 Per Six-Pack)
Flying Dog's beers first attracted me because of their labels, designed by seriously twisted illustrator Ralph Steadman. The brewery's name dates back to a mythic 1983 "meeting of the minds" between future brewer George Stranahan and gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson somewhere in the wilds of Colorado. That night, the two of them, along with a third luminary named Richard McIntyre, had near-biblical visions of a flying dog. The prophecy took seven years to fulfill, but in 1990 the vision matured into Aspen's first brewery in over a century.