If you’ve driven coast to coast across America chances are that you’ve encountered stretches of land where nothing terribly exciting is happening. And if you’ve ever driven on I-80 between Cheyenne and Salt Lake City chances are that the most compelling aspect of humanity or nature you’ve encountered is that of the wind gusts that knock traffic all over the road. Yet, despite the vast expanses of desolateness on this part of the Interstate there are a few towns that keep the fuel tanks heavy and the engines of transportation going.
One such place is the small town of Rock Springs, Wyoming… a coal hub of the Cowboy State.
Now when driving along 1-80, Rock Springs may only seem like another generic and forgettable gas, fast food, and hotel hideaway in the middle of nowhere. However, a slight detour away from the Interstate reveals an older quainter downtown with it’s own identity.
While passing through the area Liz and I were drawn to this revitalized downtown district in search for something other than the “All You Can Eat” tilapia at the local Golden Corral. In doing so we stumbled upon the Bitter Creek Brewing Company and for two people who are always at home in a bar, it seemed like the logical hydrating/refueling station for us in the area.
One of a mere 14 micro breweries in the Cowboy State, the Bitter Creek Brewing Company’s bar offers an ambiance of welcoming light pine, beer inspired comical signage, and the obligatory fermentation tanks of any micro pub. The staff is hospitable and on the surface there is nothing to turn one way from this libation sanctuary in the middle of nowhere.
However, Bitter Creek is a brew pub in the middle of nowhere and not surprisingly the food and beer fail to achieve an overall satisfaction level that most people outside of the realm of Rock Springs might demand.
The beers sampled were juvenile in character and lacking in depth, while the expansive menu is mainly the featured line-up one has come to expect at an American brew pub. That said the sole bright spot when visiting Bitter Creek might be restaurant/pub’s fixation on providing a solid selection of specialty burgers along with home cut fries to remedy the emptiness gain from consuming their beer.
During our visit we selected two of the burgers from Bitter Creek’s menu, the Jalapeno Burger and Garbage Burger. Unfortunately the Jalapeno was served with raw peppers and this combined with the chipotle mayo created an unimpressive burger with the perfumy essence of Febreze (no joke). However, the Garbage Burger saved the day making the trek off the interstate a worth wild one…at least for any red blood American carnivore.
Dressed with an onion ring, pepperoni, pastrami, bacon, cheese, BBQ sauce, and all the fixins the Garbage Burger represents the divine combination of a western bacon cheeseburger and Italian meat sandwich…need I say more gentlemen? And while I can’t speak to the quality of the meat either way, all the flavors meddled harmoniously into a worthwhile high calorie intake of a burger.
And because we’re gluttons we also sampled the chicken quesadilla and standard caesar salad. The quesadilla was a solid filler off the grill top while the caesar was below average with dressing from a bottle and to be avoided.
All in all Bitter Creek is worth the extra five minute drive off the Interstate to avoid the mundanity of fast food available in the area, just make sure to pick your poison carefully from the menu and ask for a sample of beer before committing to a full pint.
Here’s my complete review of the beers sampled:
Red Desert Ale
Brown amber in color, the nose is basically void of an identity except for a hint of hoppiness. Light in body and refreshing, the palate is one of a nondescript hoppy circle filled with a malty center. Dry hops linger on a moderate finish.
“WY-P-A” (The unofficial beer of Wyoming)
A joint venture by all 14 of Wyoming’s breweries, the “WY-P-A” is murky burnt golden in color with a balance of tart citrus and sweet malts which play the undercurrent to hops on the nose. Light to medium bodied, sweet malt comes through on the front of the palate at colder than cellar temps. But as the beer warms, the hops come alive occupying the whole of one’s palate. The long acidic finish is filled with notes grapefruit and perfume. Hard to drink more than half a pint without killing your taste buds.
Wee Bastard (Traditional Scottish Ale)
Clear golden in color, with light sweet (nearly candied) caramelized malts on the nose. Light to medium bodied, the Bastard opens wet and round on the front of the palate. Slightly sweet, though not complex and without any discerning essence, the beer is if nothing else exceedingly smooth.
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