Beers are made all over the world, but nothing screams ‘Merica like a good old American Pale Ale and a couple hundred bucks worth of bottle rockets. I’ve put together a list of four beers perfect for putting back on the Fourth of July. From lighting up the grill to lighting up the night sky, here’s my advice on the best ways to celebrate the United States of Beer.
Pale Ale – Sierra Nevada, Chico, CA
Pretty ballsy to name your pale ale “Pale Ale,” but Sierra Nevada can easily get away with it because they’ve been around since the dawn of American craft brewing. The iconic green label and smooth drinkability of this beer are two of the reasons it was the first case of beer I bought (legally) the day I turned 21. Perfectly balanced and versatile, this archetypal American Pale Ale celebrates the hops of Northern California. It’s a perfect beer to throw in the cooler for a barbecue regardless of who you invited — everybody loves Sierra Nevada.
St. Lupulin – Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO
Inside each little whole-cone hop nugget lies a deliciously bitter resin called lupulin that brewers coax out to give pale ales their hoppy character. This means that lupulin is the the centerpiece of many pale ales, but it shines brightest in Odell’s St. Lupulin. Odell has taken the hop to a new level with this pale ale, canonizing the brew with a dangerously sinful amount of hop aroma and flavor. Dry hopping makes this a supremely floral beer — it’s like fireworks for your nose. Also, since this is Odell’s summer seasonal offering, it makes sense to drink as much as you can now (before it disappears).
8-Bit Pale Ale – Tallgrass Brewing Company, Manhattan, KS
I can’t write a column about ‘Merican beers without including something in a can, can I? 8-Bit gets it’s flavor and theme from the same source: Galaxy hops. The Galaxy hops take this beer into orbit inside a hop-rocket. A hop-rocket, according to Tallgrass’s website is “a stainless steel vessel that we use to cycle beer through Galaxy hops for 6 hours before we send the beer to you.” This gives the beer an extra hoppy oomph, making it one of the most surprising beers in a can (and a tallboy no less!). The packaging also makes it the perfect pale ale to take with you if you are heading to a national park trying to see the beauty that is America, as lots of parks discourage or flat-out ban glass to make sure we keep it beautifu. You won’t get hassled by the park rangers if they see you drinking 8-Bit.
Freeride APA – Alaskan Brewing Co., Juneau, AK
If Sierra Nevada is the old school, Alaskan Brewing Co. is the new school. While respecting the hoppy character of traditional American Pale Ales, this beer also leans towards the more tropical and citrusy hops preferred by brewers today. Using Juneau’s glacier-fed water, Alaskan Brewing Co. offers up a beer that they claim is perfect for the outdoors. This beer certainly enhances activities in the wild, but it also has an equally positive effect on indoor activities. While the first three beers have found their way into my beer fridge for years, Freeride APA is a newer addition. And as happy as I am to have added this beer to the rotation, I’m equally excited to keep trying the new American Pale Ales that will come out of American breweries for years to come.