By Derek Warren | For Weekender
While the American beer landscape was once dominated by large American breweries it has now flipped and is dominated by large international breweries and an ever increasing amount of smaller American craft breweries. The craft beer scene has shown that Americans desire great flavorful beers, and they want to help support their local economy and country.
The Fourth of July is a time to reflect on our independence as a country and there is nothing more American than celebrating with good beer. So this year put down your large internationally owned beers and celebrate the American spirit with craft beer.
There are wide arrays of great craft beer available from a growing number of beer retailers and bars. Craft beer has become a buzz word for hipsters or those looking to form an exclusive club. Do not let this keep you from entering.
Craft beer is more than snobbery or drinking rare beers, it is about flavor and passion and what is more American than that combination? So if you have sat idly by while this craft beer revolution is occurring it is time to get off the bench and try some of these great beers.
Here are just a few suggestions of great beers for the craft beer newbie:
Oskar Blues- Mama’s Little Yellow Pils: This Czech styled Pilsner offers a light body, full of flavor, crisp, and refreshing. While it is an easy beer to get into if your background has mainly been in macro beers, it’s also a beer that offers a lot more flavor and complexities without overwhelming the palate. The pilsner style is the one most macro beers drinkers are accustomed to and finding the right craft version of the pilsner is a sure in for many to the craft beer world. It also also comes in a can!
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery- Cream Ale: Many conjure up images of Genesee Cream Ale when this style is discussed but as many craft breweries have tried their hand at the style they have shown just how amazing this style can be. Hardywood is a relatively new brewery but came on strong with many world class offerings. Their Cream Ale is smooth, creamy, semi-sweet and highly drinkable and all at 4.4 percent ABV. This is a beer to try regardless of your beer drinking background and is a beer that offers something for even jaded craft beer geeks.
Sam Adams- Boston Lager: While Sam Adams is a very large craft brewery and this is the beer that started it all. Wonderful toasted malt notes give way to touch of sweet caramel and a smooth finish that will leave you wanting more. This is a beer with a long history and pedigree but still holds its own against many contemporaries and is the perfect, and easiest to find gateway craft beer on this list.
Allagash- Allagash White: Many beer drinkers enjoy the occasional Blue Moon, but have found some of the flavors lacking and not as in depth as they would otherwise like, the perfect fix is Allagash White. This 5 percent ABV Witbier is brewed with wheat and spiced with coriander and orange peel. This beer is fruity, refreshing and slightly cloudy in appearance and is the perfect answer for those who claim to not like craft beer but still love Blue Moon.
New Belgium- Fat Tire: This is another beer with a long lineage and the beer that helped launch New Belgium to the popular heights it currently enjoys. This wonderfully smooth Amber Ale finds perfect balance with slight touches of hops, but is not overwhelmingly bitter. This is an easy beer for many to enjoy as they transition into craft beer, but will find themselves coming back to time and time again.
Hopefully this list serves as a great guide to get you into the craft beer family. Just know that beer should be flavorful and also make for a great conversation piece when out with friend. Be safe this holiday weekend and drink great beer!
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon every Sunday on 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.