Nebraska has turned its agricultural products into many things — paramount among them recently, of course, being beer. The Cornhusker State has joined the ongoing craft beer craze, with brewmasters putting a unique Midwestern spin on classic styles.
In Nebraska’s state capital of Lincoln, players like Zipline and Granite City are rolling out the barrels of unique taste for choosy beer-heads.
During a recent swing through Lincoln, I popped by Zipline with friend Amy to sample the wares, many of which have been much awarded at the Great American Beer Festival. The kolsch was an easy-to-swallow, quality drink that was refreshing. The Lemondrop Pale Ale features a profile of somewhat unusual hops combined with a fruity aroma and aftertaste that was an auger of spring. The quad certainly packed a punch, even though it was not barrel-aged and thus was a little less pleasant than I’m used to from higher-gravity brews. Others to try include the copper, the barley wine and the chocolate double stout.
Across town is Granite City Food & Brewery. Thanks to a rather mild winter, I was able to sit outdoors on Granite’s patio. Going from light to dark I started out with The Duke Pale Ale, a sumptuous, satisfying brew of a delightful copper hue. The Northern American Lager and The Bennie Bock were both sumptuous as well. I’m still trying to get my head around stouts, but the barkeep assured me that I should give the Oatmeal Stout a shot, which I did, and was pleasantly surprised. (If you happen to be in Omaha, an hour-plus to the east, make sure to pop by Granite’s other location, and also check out Brickway while you’re there.)
There are dozens of new breweries popping up around Nebraska, many of them well beyond the hot spots of Lincoln and Omaha. To visit them all might be difficult, but it’s a goal well worth the journey.