by Jon Davidson
Love it or leave it, craft beer is here to stay. With over 3,000 craft breweries spread across all fifty states, it's safe to say that craft beer has become an integral part of the American beer story. New to drinking craft? There's no better time than summer to get your feet, and tongue, wet on microbrews.
Summer offerings from the average craft brewery are typically lighter and more approachable than their seasonal counterparts. Plus, many craft breweries now offer cans, which are perfect for a day on the water, trail, beach, and pretty much everywhere else.
This Fourth of July, celebrate America's spirit of independence and creativity by showing up to that barbecue with one of these four stellar summer ales.
1. HELL OR HIGH WATERMELON WHEAT, 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco,
Crisp, refreshing, and--you guessed it--brewed with fresh watermelon, this approachable summer ale is brewed like a traditional wheat and then undergoes a secondary fermentation using a whole bunch of watermelon. Hell Or High Watermelon comes in a can, and is available from April to September. It clocks in at only 4.9% ABV, which is great news because it's so delicious that having just one may prove impossible.
2. STUMPTOWN TART, BridgePort Brewing, Portland, OR
Not a beer geek? You won't be impressed, then, by learning that Stumptown Tart earned a record score of 95 in Beer Magazine. Forget the accolades and let your mouth be impressed by this 7.7% ABV Belgian-style tart ale, instead. BridgePort, Oregon's first craft brewery, includes a different locally-grown fruit in each summer's batch of Stumptown Tart. This year, raspberries made the cut. Incredibly balanced, tangy, and delicious, this beer is a must in your 4th of July arsenal.
3. FESTINA PECHE, Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, DE
Berliner Weisse beers are a great introductory course in the world of sour beers, and Dogfish Head's Festina Peche neo-Berliner Weisse (as they call it) is the cream of the crop. It's a seasonal offering loaded with peachy sweetness to balance out the beer's sour complexity. At 4.5% ABV, it's perfect for that long, hot 4th of July party. Calm down, Lighting Off Fireworks At Inopportune Times Guy. Grab a Festina Peche and prepare for a flavor explosion in your mouth.
4. HOPONIUS UNION INDIA PALE LAGER, Jack's Abby Brewing, Framingham, MA
Unique fruit flavors aren't your thing, you say? You want to drink craft and support independence, but want to save face in front of your hop-head friends? Grab a Hoponius Union IPL. The delicious, citrusy, 6.7% ABV offspring of a lager and an IPA, this IPL features enough West Coast hops to preserve your manhood, but enough smooth lager characteristics to make drinking it easier than singing the National Anthem.
HONORABLE MENTIONS THAT COME IN A CAN:
Don't miss Gilgamesh's Mamba (a black tea, bergamot, tangerine peel, and rye hopless ale), Modern Times' Lomaland Saison, This Season's Blonde by Aspen Brewing Company, and 2 Towns Ciderhouse's Rhubarbarian Rhubarb Cider. They all come in cans. They're all delicious. Mic drop.