This past weekend saw the kickoff of one of the year’s biggest sporting events. No, not the Super Bowl. The 2012 Yukon Quest began. What is Yukon Quest? It’s just your run-of-the-mill 1,000 mile dog sled race from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. It follows the trail that prospectors took during the gold rush of the 1890s and celebrate the Yukon River, the “highway of the North.” And while the Iditarod may be more well-known, Yukon Quest is considered by many to be the most difficult race in the world. Mushers and their dogs will navigate the frozen wilderness for two weeks and friend-of-Gadling Eva Holland is along for the ride and posting dispatches on her Twitter feed. She passed along this video of the start of the race and we thought we’d share it with you because, well, it’s just plain awesome.
Last month, the writers at Gadling spent a lot of time at the pub, creating this list of The 24 greatest cities in the world for drinking beer. We had so much fun and got so many great comments, we decided we couldn’t stop: we headed back to the bar and asked for another round. Here’s 15 more of our favorite cities in the world for drinking great beer. Did we include your favorite? Take a look.
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Edinburgh locals proudly boast to have the highest concentration of pubs of any city in Europe. Nightly pub crawls of all varieties and themes weave an intoxicated web through both the New and Old towns, dutifully infiltrating once-sleepy pubs and leaving empty pint glasses littered in their wake. If you want to get closer to the source, head over to the Caledonian Brewery, a place where beer is proudly “brewed by men, not machines.”
Wellington, New Zealand
This funky little capital city at the base of New Zealand’s North Island is teeming with Kiwis who are keen for their beer. While nationally popular Monteith’s is brewed on the South Island in the sleepy town of Greymouth, Wellington Brewery still has beers ending up in the hopping bars and nightclubs lining the infamous Cuba Street. No stranger to hosting events, Wellington will open its doors in 2010 to the New Zealand Beer Festival, only serving to further the raucous bar scene this city churns out nightly.Prague, Czech Republic
Beer drinking visitors agree: there’s nothing quite like a tall stein of pivo in Praha, the traditional home of Pilsner and arguably the world’s best beer. Allegedly consuming 156 liters of beer per capita each year–the most of any nation–beer is a simple life necessity for the Czechs. Long a staple city on the European beer circuit, the glory of Czech beer is highlighted nowhere more than at the annual Czech Beer Festival, held in Prague each May.
While not exactly what many would consider a city, Homer is one of those “drinking villages with a fishing problem” that exudes nothing but good-natured charm. All of the action in town is centered around the Homer Spit, a flat outcropping of land that holds all of the town’s bars, most notably the world-famous Salty Dawg Saloon. After hauling in a 300-pound halibut, most fishermen head out to the Spit to celebrate with one of the many flavors of the Homer Brewing Company, or perhaps even an “import” from the Alaskan Brewing Company in the far away capital of Juneau.
If good beer has partners in crime, it would be good music and eager twenty-somethings ready to let it all hang out. Fortunately for anyone visiting Austin, there is absolutely no shortage of either. Host to two of the largest music festivals in the nation, Austin City Limits and South by Southwest, Austin frequently swells from the University of Texas all the way down to 6th Street with beer-battered locals and music lovers alike. A number of microbreweries are scattered around town, and with top acts and loads of talent moving through the city, the opportunity to imbibe is never far away.
Phnomh Penh, Cambodia
Phnomh Penh comes in on this list for one reason alone: $.25 beers on tap. Not only is a draft beer only a quarter, but the Cambodian national brew, Angkor Beer, is one of the finest lagers in all of Asia. Aside from the cheap price and the smooth taste, modern-day Phnomh Penh is lined with French cafes overlooking the mighty Mekong River, all serving obscenely cheap Angkor on draft. For those wanting to take the Angkor deep into the night, the city boasts an impressive nightclub scene, and for anyone really wanting to get creative with their drinking, every evening there are mass public aerobic sessions in the many parks across the city.
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada
You know any beer served this close to the Arctic is going to be cold. A rugged outpost town that is known for its rough mining history and plentiful outdoor adventure opportunities, hardy souls have been putting back the beers in Whitehorse since the gold miners and prospectors first came to town. These days, the Yukon Brewing Company keeps everyone in town from going thirsty, and their Yukon Red was just recently awarded the Canadian Brewing Awards 2009 Canadian Beer of the Year.
Few cultures are as receptive to a good time as are the Aussies, and the wide beaches and deep discos of Sydney provide the perfect venue for such carefree merriment. Frowning upon their Melbourne neighbors who would rather swill Victoria Bitter, Sydney locals will proudly partake in the locally-brewed Toohey’s, most likely beach-side at Bondi between the bikinis and the BBQ.
Don’t tell anyone, but this sleepy former whaling village may or may not be the oldest town in America – the Lewes town sign proclaims it “the first town in the first state”. Lewes is home to the stellar Dogfish Head brewery, which makes a particularly good early summer beer called Aprihop. For those who typically ignore fruit-tinged beer, this brew carries enough dried-hop bite and pleasant fragrance to remind us of that time of year when the air is warm but the ground is still cold. Look west and the bay bends in a way that the sun actually sets into a watery horizon. That alone is worth the trip.
Ensenada’s colonial past creeps just below the city’s surface: Spanish architecture and design are evident everywhere, and the town is sprinkled with old missions glowing under shiny terracotta tile roofs. There’s a bar in town called Hussong’s which seems to creak and moan like an ancient sailing vessel, and whose bar is packed with taps for German beers. The place was founded by a German prospector who followed rumors of gold to Mexico in the late 1800’s and never left. This is also the place to savor a Schloss Eggenberg Urbock 23 – if you don’t know what that is, maybe it’s time to strap that old waxy shortboard to the roof and drive south for a couple hours.
Toronto is a city best viewed from on high, the ideal spot being the CN Tower, which attracts 2 million visitors annually. It’s the kind of view that can make the bottom of your feet tingle, and by the time you return to solid ground, you’ll be ready for a cold one. If you’ve only had Canadian beers in green bottles, you’ve missed the rich variety our northern neighbors have to offer: Unibroue Brewing makes beer called Maudite which has a deep copper color and a pert aroma of wild spices and floral hop notes. It’s a complex brew, deep and intoxicating in taste and smell. They also make a white ale, Blanche de Chambly, which sounds like something Austin Powers would say, but satiates thirsty travelers in a way that no beer with a “moose on the label” ever could.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
This desert town that has become synonymous with Pale Ale is a beer drinker’s delight. Hot, dry, and handsome, the town teems with artistry, old hippie money and raw desert beauty. Few experiences stimulate the senses like watching the sun rise across the desert floor while the light paints a mural of reds blues and oranges. Best to see it after staying up all night drinking Santa Fe State Pen Porter, a smoky and mysterious experience that compliments the desert night air.
Boulder, Colorado has a reputation as the “church of the outdoors” – when people aren’t hiking, they’re skiiing. And they’re young: the median age is 29, a time when your body is best suited to burning off those extra beer carbs. Boulder is home to the state’s first microbrewery, Boulder Beer Company, whose products include a dry-hopped ale called Hazed and infused for it’s multiple hop aromas that result from introducing the hops late in the brewing process. The bar also sports a “Magical Mystery Tap” which seems to exist solely to tempt the thrill-seeker within each of us.
Portsmouth New Hampshire
If you like seafood, but have never eaten at a northeastern lobster shack, you haven’t had the full experience. Along the coasts of Maine and new Hampshire, there are smallish, greying buildings that serve pots of steamed seafood right from on the dock. Portsmouth in particular has a number which carry the local brewer Smuttynose. Known for their Big Beer Series, few epicurean experiences compare with the steamy smell of lobster and clams alongside a big mug of Farmhouse Ale.
North Hollywood, California
A place where weird is normal and the absurd is commonplace, you’re as likely to see Flea bouncing a basketball down Otsega toward the park as you are to see a homeless guy wearing a red dress. It’s happy hour all day long here, and the neighborhood moniker “NoHo Arts district” seems to have multiple levels of meanings. As in Europe, a cold beer isn’t usually frowned on at lunch, and it’s easy to slip into that hazy way of thinking, maybe after three of Mendocino Brewing Company’s Red Seal Ales, continuing the charade that is North Hollywood is still a good idea.
With winter upon us, it’s time to start bundling up. And if you have any cold weather vacations planned for the holiday season, you’ll want to be sure that you have the proper gear before you get to your destination. Keeping your core warm is not just about comfort; It’s a matter of safety. At the heart of any layering system is a solid, insulated and wind-proof fleece coat. I decided to put the Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece Jacket to the test on a recent trip to the Yukon.
There are tons of fleece jackets on the market these days. Many are less about performance and more about fashion. With the temperatures in Whitehorse ranging from -25C (-13F) to -4C (24F), I needed a fleece that could actually keep me warm, and thus, healthy. I wore the R3 while splitting wood, hiking and dog sledding in some of the coldest temperatures I have ever experienced. Let’s break down how the R3 handled the conditions.The problem with many of fleece jackets is their inability to deter the wind. No matter how warm the jacket may be, if cold winds pierce the surface, the end result is a chilly core. The R3 is made of a microfleece that did a stellar job of keeping the wind out during my tests. The jacket is made partially from recycled Polartec Wind Pro fabric that claims to block “four times more wind than regular fleece.” I won’t attempt to quantify its wind-blocking abilities, but I can say that, unlike other fleeces I have worn, the R3 prevented me from feeling the wind chills will still remaining quite breathable.
The interior of the jacket is quite plush, which generated a fair amount of warmth against my base layer. The R3 managed to wick away most of the moisture generated when I was sweating during aerobic activities. It is certainly warmer and more insulated than your average fleece, so at times I did feel quite warm when indoors while others were still comfortably wearing their coats.
The R3 looks and feels like a durable product. The seams and pockets are sturdily stitched and the pockets are are glued-in to provide extra dependability. And while it’s solid and warm, it never felt heavy when I was wearing it. At $200, this is not your entry-level fleece and it is clearly made to last.
The fit of the jacket is snug but not tight. I have rather broad shoulders and a long torso, so the R3 did feel somewhat fitted around my shoulders and at times seemed somewhat short. However, it still comfortably fit when worn above a base layer (or two). I would certainly recommend that you try the jacket on at a store before purchasing to ensure that you find the appropriate size.
The purpose of a fleece of this quality is to keep you warm first and foremost, but you don’t want to own an ugly coat. The R3 is quite handsome and the snug fit, while worrisome if you are exceptionally broad, does cut some attractive lines.
While a fleece jacket is not suitable as your sole winter coat due to it’s penchant for absorbing water when it’s raining/snowing, the R3 was pretty impressive in frigid weather on dry days. On a hike up Grey Mountain outside of Whitehorse, I quickly shed my down coat and wore only the R3. It deterred the wind, kept my core quite warm and never felt heavy or damp as I began to sweat. It handled the blustery conditions in Carcross, YT, as well, despite the chill coming off of Bennett Lake.
A quick look at the pros and cons of the Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece:
- Incredibly warm
- Durably crafted
- Plush interior wicks away moisture
- Lightweight and breathable
- Snug fit depending on your shoulder width and torso length
Overall, I highly recommend the Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece Jacket if you are looking for a well-crafted fleece that can handle particularly low temperatures. It may be warmer than you need if you don’t anticipate dealing with below-freezing temperatures where you live or during your travels. At $200, it’s reasonably priced for how stellar a jacket it is and would be a wise purchase for anyone who is planning a winter filled with outdoor activities.
The Patagonia R3 Regulator Fleece is available on the company’s website and at many outdoor gear suppliers.