June 26, 2011 – We drove into Yellowstone National Park on Sunday, June 26 ready for a week of exploring the park and sampling the local beer. Our destination for our first night in the park was a cabin on Yellowstone Lake. After a detour to West Thumb Geyser Basin to take our first walk around the amazing thermal features, we saw our second bear of the trip, another grizzly.
Enough nature for the day – time for a beer! After checking into our cabin, we walked over to the Lake Yellowstone Hotel for dinner. As described by Janet Chapple in my Yellowstone trip bible called Yellowstone Treasures, the hotel “suggests 1920s casual elegance. The Lake String Quartet plays in the sun room during cocktail and dinner hours, the dining room has some of the best food in the park, and the entire hotel is the most carefully planned and comfortable of any in Yellowstone.” Built in 1891, the hotel is the oldest in the park, and beautifully situated on Yellowstone Lake.
Our first dinner in the park was memorable. I had a trio of mixed game sliders, featuring bison, elk, and antelope mini-burgers. Like the resident meat, the beer selection was also all-local. While I had stocked up on Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana beers before heading into Yellowstone, I quickly realized that wasn’t necessary because local beer was prevalent, both on draft in the restaurants and in bottles in the general stores.
At our Lake Yellowstone cabin, we enjoyed a bomber of Yellowstone Ale from Rogue Ales in Newport, Oregon. Though not exactly local, I couldn’t pass up this bomber when I saw it in the marina store at Bridge Bay Marina. I later learned that Rogue’s Yellowstone Ale is actually their Dead Guy Ale with a different label. Oh well, I happen to love Dead Guy Ale.
I’ll also feature in this post the beers I sampled from Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company (Billings, Montana), including:
- Wild Fly Ale, a full-bodied Amber (5.9%)
- Grizzly Wulff Wheat, a bright Kristall Weizen (5.3%)
- Huckle Weizen, brewed with “just enough huckleberry to make you yearn for the wilderness” according to the brewery. They also call this award winning beer “bear food in a bottle.” (5.3%)
Not familiar with huckleberries? The state fruit of Idaho is similar to a blueberry in flavor and is a favorite of grizzly bears. You could buy almost anything made with huckleberries in Yellowstone, from soap and candles to chocolate and ice cream. And beer — we also sampled the Wild Huckleberry Wheat Lager, a light lager blended with real Montana huckleberry juice from the Great Northern Brewing Company (Whitefish, Montana).
Next: our visit to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and more local beer.