Find The Beer: A Trail of Stashed Bottles From Alaska to California | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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Find The Beer: A Trail of Stashed Bottles From Alaska to California

Traveling the West Coast? Like beer? Then consider pulling over at these highway locations from Alaska to California and finding the stashed bottles of beer

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This very bottle of beer lies in a shallow grave of redwood duff in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, in northern California. Can you find it? Photo by Alastair Bland.

In the fog-drenched lumber and fishing country of the Pacific Northwest, beer—hearty, rich and warming—occupies as natural a role in the local culture as rifles and chain saws, pickup trucks and crab traps, eggs, coffee and bacon. Homebrewing of beer is as popular here as almost anywhere else in the United States. Some of the best breweries in America—including Deschutes, Rogue, Full Sail and North Coast—are based in the Northwest, and such classic styles as the Double IPA and barrel-aged ales have thrived and evolved under the influences of local thirsts and creativity. So, how could I resist starting a fresh game of Find the Beer while cycling from Southeast Alaska to California? Now, five bottles of beer dwell in rock holes and guardrails between Prince of Wales Island and the Humboldt County redwoods. You may know the rules by now: Go find one of the stashed bottles, replace it with one of your own choosing, and let us know in the comment box below. Game on!

At mile marker 13 on Highway 929 on Prince of Wales Island, the author sits on the rock under which a beer has been cached. Photo by Andrew Bland.

Prince of Wales Island, Alaska; Midnight Sun Brewing Company’s Kodiak Brown Ale. If you are ever headed to a town called Thorne Bay, or Whale Pass, or Port Protection, you will probably pass along Highway 929, a small, quiet strip of asphalt through the wilderness of Prince of Wales Island. If you like beer, you have no excuse not to stop. The shoulder is wide, so pull over at mile marker 13. In the rock pile on the west side of the road, the brown ale from Midnight Sun Brewing Company lurks. See the accompanying photo for details.

At mile marker 14, on Highway 105 in coastal Washington, the author indicates the rock hole where he has placed a Pyramid IPA. Photo by Andrew Bland.

Tokeland, Washington; Pyramid Thunderhead IPA. Out on this remote section of coast, one finds fog, salt, surf and lumber trucks. There is also a brand new microbrewery by the road, operated out of the Cranberry Road Winery. Stop in for a friendly pint as you cycle south. But don’t lose track of the miles. Several miles south of Tokeland, immediately across from mile marker 14 on Highway 105, in the ocean-break rock wall, dwells a beer. It’s an IPA from Pyramid. See the photo for the precise location, and make a creative bottle swap.

Like mocha? Like porter? Then take a breather the next time you pass this point in the guardrail on Oregon’s coastal Highway 101, by mile marker 205, where a Rogue Mocha Porter now dwells. Photo by Alastair Bland.

Reedsport, Oregon; Rogue Ales Mocha Porter. The Rogue brewery is a popular pit stop for cyclists on the coast of Oregon—especially, perhaps, those who have just pedaled 100 miles and have plans to camp at the nearby South Beach State Park. Don’t have time for a visit to the brewery itself? For you, I’ve stashed a bottle of Rogue’s Mocha Porter in the very end of the west-side guardrail along Highway 101, just 50 yards north of mile marker 205. This is roughly seven miles north of the decaying, salty town of Reedsport and is an easy pick-up for a cyclist riding south.

A bottle of Full Sail Pale Ale has been hidden in this guardrail on Highway 101, several miles south of Gold Beach, Oregon, and just 100 yards south of the highway’s intersection with Herman Road. Photo by Alastair Bland.

Gold Beach, Oregon; Full Sail Pale Ale. This is perhaps not the most inspiring or dramatic ale, and I wouldn’t stop in a grocery store to buy it. Thing is, if you’re cycling Highway 101, it’s free at the side of the road. The Full Sail Pale Ale lies at the 500-foot summit of the long, slow climb just south of Gold Beach. The beer is in the guardrail, about 100 yards south of the T-junction with Herman Road. Take the bottle and leave another.

Behind this sign beside the Avenue of the Giants is Lagunitas Brewing’s Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale. Photo by Alastair Bland.

Avenue of the Giants, in Humboldt Redwoods State Park; Lagunitas Brewing Company’s Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale. In our last game of Find the Beer, based mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, I stashed a bottle of this high-alcohol ale in an oak tree near Sonoma—and one of our readers stole it. A noble beer hunter (the man who reported the theft) nonetheless placed a new beer in the raided hole, but the loss of the Lagunitas brew was discouraging. So I’ve reintroduced the beer to the game by burying a bottle of the same beer in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Among giant trees standing 300 feet tall, the beer lies right behind the wooden sign (east side of the highway) reading “Residents of Massachusetts Grove,” several miles south of Weott.

They’re Still There: I recently checked on a beer that I hid in June near Mendocino, California. An oatmeal stout from Anderson Valley, it has not been touched and remains as I left it in the highway guardrail. Of course, there are other beers, too, from prior rounds of Find the Beer. In the Dordogne of France, in Bordeaux, in the Pyrenees and in the San Francisco Bay Area, more than a dozen bottles lie stashed. Pull over and find the beer!

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