Christian DeBenedetti was inhaling the subtle aromas inside his snifter glass. He was inspecting a somewhat reclusive golden ale that has a massive cult following, Pliny the Elder. He could smell a peach, almost pruney aroma. He explained a rare sweetness and a dry cutting hop resonating in the IPA. It was a good beer, I think, but it was nice to enjoy a rare beer with someone who knew why it was special.
Christian DeBenedetti spent a year traveling and researching, as editor-in-chief of the Oxford Companion to Beer put it, the “undisputed beer capital of the world, home to most vibrant beer culture anywhere.” Surprising as it may sound, he was roaming through America. DeBenedetti toured many of America’s 4,000 microbreweries, beer-focused restaurants, bars and festivals to document a growing craft beer phenomenon sweeping the nation. From his journey comes, The Great American Ale Trail, a comprehensive traveler’s guide to the best craft beer in the U.S. Exploring the distincitve regional cultures of craft beer, DeBenedetti captures the people, places and philosophy which make up America’s unique beer movement.
After finishing our Plinys, I made Christian DeBenedetti do the thing all connoisseurs hate doing — make a best-of-the-best list. You can see Christian DeBenedetti’s “desert island” Oregon beer list here.
What makes craft beer special to you? How do you define a good beer? What would top your Oregon “desert island” beer list?
- Christian DeBenedetti: Journalist and author of The Great American Ale Trail