Now that the craziness that is Derby and everything surrounding it has passed, it’s time to start looking forward to the summer and more importantly the beers available to help beat the heat. No, I’m not talking strictly about your summer seasonals. I’m talking about beers made for the on-the-go lifestyle that many have when the weather warms up. Yep, I’m talking about canned beers.
I don’t know why but I’ve become infatuated with the idea of craft beer in a can. They cool faster, are more space efficient/easy to pack, and they make that cool sound when you pop the top, not to mention shielding beer from sunlight (and skunking). It wasn’t that long ago that only a handful of breweries (looking at you Oskar Blues and Ska Brewing) used the aluminum vessels. Lucky for all of us that trend has certainly changed in the last half-decade. Simply put, the can goes hand-in-hand with trips to the lake, softball games, a round of golf, a day at the pool, or a good old-fashioned barbeque. And with that said, here’s my official canned beer guide for the summer, a list of beers readily available around here that should get you through any situation you may find yourself in over the next several months.
- West Sixth Lemongrass American Wheat– The newest member of Lexington’s own West Sixth Brewing Company, Lemongrass American Wheat is almost a hybrid of a standard wheat and a pale ale. The crisp wheat beer is accentuated with fresh lemongrass and Sorachi Ace hops, giving it a hoppy lemon bite. West Sixth only cans their year-round beers (big props to them for that) and Lemongrass American Wheat is a great choice for those looking for a more sessionable local brew for the summer.
- West Sixth IPA- For those looking for something with a bit more of a kick while still being easy to drink, West Sixth’s flagship IPA is the choice for you. Citrusy, hoppy, and easy-drinking, this is another winner from the local canning champs.
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale- Easily one of my favorite beers of all time, this old-timer continues to prove why it’s the standard-bearer for the APA style. The fact that it now comes in a 12-pack of cans (or a 4-pack of 16 oz. cans, if that’s your thing) only makes it better. For those looking for a hop fix that you can drink all day, there’s no better choice.
- Sierra Nevada Summerfest- There are several Czech-style pilsners available in cans (Avery Joe’s and Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils), but I think Summerfest is the best of the crew. Crisp and clean with a solid noble hops bite, this beer is one that will pair equally well cruising in a pontoon or eating a freshly grilled hot dog. As an added bonus, this is probably the best “gateway” beer on the list as well, for those of you who have friends who may not be as into craft beer as we are.
- Schlafly Session IPA- Outside of canning, the emergence of session IPAs is my favorite trend in the craft beer world. I love them. With that being said, my personal favorite canned SIPA we can get comes from our brothers to the west, Schlafly. Plenty hoppy with a bit more body than others in the style, Schlafly SIPA will keep the hop-heads happy while also keeping them upright.
- Oskar Blues G’Knight- This beer, on the other hand, is not one you want to try and knock back double-digits of (probably why they are sold in 4-packs). This big, hoppy red ale packs a massive hoppy punch and bit of a kick as well (8.7% abv). Again, not something for all-day drinking, but if you are looking to mix in a big boy every now and then, this beauty is highly recommended (their Deviant Dale’s IPA and Gubna IIPA are fantastic canned options as well).
- Bell’s Two Hearted Ale- Another brew on the bigger side, this IPA is citrusy hop goodness in a can. May not be as sexy as some of the more exotic IPAs on the market, but it can hold its own with damn near anything.
- Avery White Rascal- This unfiltered Belgian Witbier is a good option to mix things up well. Pairs particularly well with spicy grilled dishes.
- Sam Adams Boston Lager- Yes, I know many look at Sam Adams as a bit undeserving of a craft beer title, but Boston Lager is a fantastic beer and something I will drink quite a bit of this summer. I don’t care how big they are, this is a damn good beer. Deal with it.
- Modelo Espeical- My cerveza of choice and nothing goes better with a grilled flat iron steak covered in chimmichurri sauce than a cold cerveza. I know it’s not craft, but this is my list and I can do what I want.
There are many other great canned options to be had (and I’ll drink those as well), but these are my favorites. Let us know what you’ll be taking to the park/lake/pool/field/course/cook-out/etc in the comments section below.