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Beertown U.S.A.: Jackson Hole

Each winter, powder hounds flock to Jackson Hole, the 48-mile-long valley in western Wyoming, for steep hills and deep drops. What’s better after a day of gnarly runs than a cold beer?
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Spur Restaurant & Bar; Photo by David Agnello

Spur Restaurant & Bar; Photo by David Agnello

Wyoming is the country’s least populated state, so it hasn’t been top of the list for national breweries’ distribution. Local brewers shrugged and took to making beer for themselves; many WY-brewed beers are only available inside state lines. Near Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole is renowned for its skiing, fishing and wild natural beauty—and the beers hold up to the scenery. In a place where everybody knows everybody, brewers push each other to craft ever-tastier beers.

Jackson

Snake River Brewery and Restaurant 

This eco-friendly brewery was one of the first in the area when it opened in 1996, and remains true to its handmade and local-sourcing mission today. That’s especially apparent in dishes like the Snake River Farms pulled pork topped with the brewery’s own barbecue sauce. Sip on a Jenny Lake Lager, a Vienna lager with a kiss of caramel sweetness, and ask to be seated upstairs for a glimpse of the brewmaking process. 265 S. Millward St., snakeriverbrewing.com

Melvin Brewing at Thai Me Up

Melvin Brewing was founded in 2000 by a snowboarder as a Thai restaurant with a 20-gallon homebrewing system. From those quirky beginnings, Thai Me Up, home to Melvin Brewing, has grown to 20 housemade and guest beers on tap, and has racked up three GABF medals along the way, including gold for 2×4 DIPA. Watch Kung-Fu movies play on flat-screens, and nosh on fusion dishes like wings with sweet-and-spicy chili sauce. 75 E. Pearl Ave., thaijh.com

Town Square Tavern

Need to catch the big game while you’re on vacation? Slip inside this sports-centric watering hole to watch football on 12 TVs (including two 100-inch projection screens) while sipping a pint off the bar’s local and international beer list. If you want to stock your hotel room for later but don’t want to break into the mini fridge, you’re in luck: This is the only packaged liquor store on Jackson’s main square. 20 E. Broadway, townsquaretavern.com

The Granary

This is where you’ll want to snap some photos: Floor-to-ceiling views of the Tetons in a log cabin-style building are quintessentially Wyoming. A part of Spring Creek Ranch, the restaurant serves hearty dishes like elk tenderloin, best paired with a bottle of Grand Teton Sweetgrass American Pale Ale. 1800 Spirit Dance Road, springcreekranch.com

The Bird

They bill themselves as having “No Nonsense Good Eatin’ & Booze,” so don’t be afraid to saunter in wearing post-slopes gear. The energetic burger spot with stunning mountain views pours a dozen local and international beers on tap, and they grind their meat fresh each day (just don’t dare order it well done!). Knocked back one too many brews? The Bird has a free shuttle service. 4125 Pub Place, thebirdinjh.com

Photo courtesy of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Photo courtesy of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Teton Village

Spur Restaurant & Bar

A roaring fireplace warms up the bar’s industrial metaland- wood interior, making Spur in Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa the rare après-ski spot that manages to be both casual and polished. Chef Kevin Humphreys’ menu synchs up deliciously with local brews; try the shrimp and grits with a Roadhouse Brewing Rhombus IPA. 3385 Cody Lane, tetonlodge.com

The Handle Bar

Inviting fire pits dot the huge, stone-walled patio at The Handle Bar; to warm up even further, “Cowboy Up” your beer with a shot of Wyoming whiskey. There may be a wait and a higher price tag (it’s attached to the Four Seasons), but you can’t beat the gorgeous views of Rendezvous Mountain and filling treats like mustacheshaped pretzels, caramelized pumpkin soup and hearty elk chili. 7680 Granite Loop Road, thehandlebarjh.com

Mangy Moose Restaurant and Saloon

Opening up after its fall closure in the last week of November, the Mangy Moose Saloon is an eclectic and well-worn Jackson landmark. As the name suggests, the Western-memorabilia décor includes a large stuffed moose. Beer is poured as fast as possible as it’s often packed, particularly on live music nights. They’ve got a handful of local and craft brews on tap, like the venerable Moose Drool Brown Ale. 3295 Village Drive, mangymoose.com

 

Mangy Moose; Photo by Chris Figenshau

Mangy Moose; Photo by Chris Figenshau

Wilson

Q Roadhouse & Brewing

This brewpub just five miles from Jackson Hole Resort nabbed a 2014 GABF silver medal for its peach- and apricotlaced saison; diners are more likely to recognize this spot thanks to chef Matty Melehes’ appearance on Food Network’s “Chopped” this past summer. The menu is varied and loosely Southern, complemented by housebrewed beers that rotate frequently. 2550 Moose Wilson Road, qjacksonhole.com

Victor, Idaho

Grand Teton Brewing

You can raise a pint to thank the Otto brothers for both Grand Teton Brewing Company and the modern glass growler, which they introduced in the late 1980s. Originally located in Wilson, Wyoming, the brewery moved the 25 winding miles over Teton Pass into Victor, Idaho, in 1988. No food served here, but you’re welcome to bring your own to enjoy with brews ranging from sours and fruit beers to barrel-aged specialties and the winter seasonal Pursuit of Hoppiness imperial red ale. 430 Old Jackson Highway, grandtetonbrewing.com

Wildlife Brewing

Ric Harmon started brewing beer out of his converted garage/ brewery in 2003; now, Wildlife Brewing serves award-winning house brews in a large pub with horseshoes, darts, shuffleboard and more. Locals have voted it “best pizza in the Tetons,” making it worth the drive if you’re craving a slice. Wash that down with one of eight rotating drafts, many of which are named for Wyoming fauna. 145 S. Main St., wildlifebrewing.com

Wyoming is for Lovers

For two weeks in February, WinterFest takes over Jackson Hole. On Valentine’s Day weekend, that means Cutter Races, where teams of horse-drawn carriages battle it out and cold beer flows freely—what’s more romantic than that? Round out the weekend with concerts, ski clinics and races, snow sculptures, savory bratwurst and, oh yeah, more beer.

HUNT THESE TAPS

Hopstafarian Extra Pale IPA is the strongest beer Wildlife Brewing makes; the 8.8% brew is hopped five times for maximum aroma and flavor. Twice a year, and only for the winter months, Roadhouse Brewing taps Dreaded Beast, a Russian Imperial Stout served on nitro and full of coffee, dark chocolate and molasses flavors. Count yourself lucky to nab a taste of Roadhouse’s special release Sacred Brett, a Brett-fermented version of the Sacred Creed Saison aged in chardonnay barrels. In search of a Thanksgiving brew? Spices and hundreds of pounds of sweet potatoes go into making Roadhouse’s Tower of the Castle Sweet Potato Porter.

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