This weekend I’m getting in a car with friends and driving up to the Catskills for a relaxing weekend of camping. There’s really nothing like getting in touch with nature, but whether you're glamping (glamorous camping) or just backpacking it, you shouldn’t brave the wild without awesome brews.
Cans are the clear choices here, I mean, can you imagine lugging a six-pack of bottles up a mountain? Forget it! Let's review why cans are simply cooler than bottles. They’re easy to store and carry. They’re recyclable, which is good for the environment, and most importantly, they get your beer colder faster. Unfortunately they also get warmer faster, so stake out some shade.
Nothing could have prepared me for the onslaught of great beers in sleeker metal packaging this year. Sure enough, more 500 craft breweries in the U.S. are now canning and some of our favorite IPAs, ambers, fruit beers and blondes have made their way to cans this year. If you’re planning on camping this summer, bring some great canned brews to the mountain, forest, beach or otherwise outdoors party.
- DESTIHL: Strawberry Blonde
Blonde ales are generally a pretty tame style but if one wins an award at the Great American Beer Festival, I have to take notice. The Illinois-based brewery uses whole strawberries for a brew that’s bursting with fruit flavor. The flavor is of light bready grains and fresh strawberries, tart, sweet and very refreshing.
- Brewery Vivant: Tree Bucket (formerly Trebuchet)
I recently had the incredible opportunity to visit Brewery Vivant and can confirm, besides having the best poutine in Grand Rapids, they also have some of the most underrated beer in a very competitive market. This is undoubtedly their best offering, absolutely bursting with hops. To cram in all those hops, they upped the malt and ABV to an astounding 9.3%. While you won’t be able to buy this til later in August, try their Farm Hand Saison for instant refreshment.
- Nebraska Brewing Company: Cardinal Pale Ale
Nebraska was originally only distributing their barrel-aged brews in big 750-ml bottles, but after a long wait we’re finally able to taste some of their more everyday offerings in cans like this fantastic pale ale. This brew has excellent balance: a good amount of bready malt and grain flavors mix perfectly with citrus hops, pine and grapefruit.
- Firestone Walker Brewing Company: 805 Blonde Ale
Blonde ales are generally pretty boring, but leave it to Firestone Walker to put fresh tires on an old hooptie and make it hum again. It's a little sweet, with some bready malt and a clean hoppy finish. People forget it gets hot at the brewery's home in Paso Robles: 805 is both their area code and solution.
- Tröegs Brewing Company: Sunshine Pils
Pilsner is one of the most brewed styles in the world, but plenty of breweries big and small make lifeless concoctions devoid of flavor. Pennsylvania-based Tröegs Brewing make one of the best, packing a ton of flavor into one little can. Grassy hops, lemon and bready malt dominate this ode to the German style.
- Evil Twin Brewing: Nomader Weisse
This Berliner Weisse, crafted in Copenhagen by one-half of everyone's favorite Danish rival brewing brothers, is delightfully tart with notes of lemon and wheat. It's a great thirst-quencher at a scant 4% and a welcome addition to the ever-growing canned sour game.
- Dry Dock Brewing Company: Apricot Blonde
Apricots are getting a ton of hype in the sour beer world, but Dry Dock showcases them in a much-welcomed sweeter example of the style. With massive fruity flavor, Apricot Blonde is about as good as it gets, though the flavor does mask the 5.3% which is just a tad higher than you’d expect, so watch out!
- Golden Road Brewing Company: 329 Lager
A descendant of the Oskar Blues can legacy, Golden Road exclusively cans their beer and I'm a big fan of their many 16-ounce cans. I enjoyed keeping it simple on a recent trip to their hometown of Los Angeles with this brew. It’s got a nice floral hop presence and is a great craft addition to the lager family.
- Oskar Blues Brewing Company: Old Chub Nitro
Craft can innovators Oskar Blues wasn’t the first brewery to use nitro in packaged beers (guess which one was!), but for our dollar they do it the best. This is a huge 8% scotch ale, which would pair perfectly with grilled meat. It’s loaded with rich flavors: a hint of smoke, caramel, brown sugar and grain. Best of all, this nitro version is very smooth, which really any bite from a normally aggressive brew.
- Lucette Brewing Company: Hips Don’t Lie
All Shakira references aside, this is quite possibly the best canned hefeweizen on the market. As referenced by the name, Lucette adds rose hips for a unique fruity and floral twist. Hints of lemon, rose, banana and pepper. It also comes in 16-ounce six-packs, which is awesome for this hefty 6.2% hefe. It’s a shame they don’t distribute farther than their homestate of Wisconsin, but you can order this online and it’s well worth it.
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