Half Acre Daisy Cutter
Do you really like hoppy pale ales but also like walking around and conducting cogent conversations an hour after having a couple? An American Pale Ale and its lower alcohol content is your answer, and few as fruity and pungent as Daisy Cutter are available in cans. Don't be intimidated by the tall, 16-ounce package: Daisy Cutter goes down easy, with very little kick. Folks in the Chicagoland area with easy access to these silver beauties should consider themselves fortunate to enjoy what is possibly the perfect summer can of beer.
Sixpoint Sweet Action
It's not easy to pick a favorite from Brooklyn-based Sixpoint's family of canned brews, but this red, hoppy cream ale is just about the best this brewery has to offer. Cream ale can conjure a lot of bad memories if your last taste of it came from a cheap case of cans found at the cash and carry, but Sweet Action tastes more like a hoppy pale ale with the subtlety of a low-alcohol Belgian farmhouse beer. At 5.2% ABV, 16-ounce cans of Sweet Action are well suited to summer sipping.
21st Amendment Allies Win The War
Want a conversation piece in your cooler? We'd guess that the Allies Win The War can design with a World War II-era newspaper label, photos of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill and inches of text about San Francisco-based 21st Amendment's collaboration with Eugene, Ore.'s Ninkasi Brewing will easily be the most interesting can at any summer party. Just don't discount what's inside. Ninkasi and 21st Amendment packed these little 12-ouncers with an 8.5% English Strong Ale powerful enough to make beer's Axis powers consider capitulating.
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
The Colorado canner that started craft beer's crush on aluminum has pretty strong brews all along its line, but this 10.5% ABV imperial stout outmuscles them all. This is a bold beer that may look like what came out of your car during your last oil change, but balances its chocolate and coffee flavor with a bitterness that rivals even the strongest IPAs. It's a bit pricey -- from $11 to $16 for a four-pack -- and isn't for everyone, but it's heaven for anyone who's ever wanted a big beer in a small, 12-ounce package.
There are a bunch of canned seasonal brews out there, but few that get the idea of a summer beer better than this Minnesota-made English Bitter. Weighing in at a light 4% ABV and packed with the citrus flavor and aroma of a pale ale twice its size, 16-ounce cans of Bitter Brewer can leave a deck or patio full of empties without putting drinkers down for the count. It's a light and refreshing choice for days when heavier beers can't take the heat. Tallgrass Ale
Brown ale's a great summer beer, but lower alcohol content makes it even better. Tallgrass out of Manhattan, Kan., struck that balance by giving its malty, chocolate brown only 4.4% ABV. It's light, smooth and unimposing even in a 16-ounce pint can. The artwork on its 8-Bit Pale Ale can is a bit more fun, but there's nothing wrong with a laid-back package for an equally mellow brew. Brewery Vivant Triomphe
Michigan's breweries pride themselves on testing beer's boundaries, but Grand Rapids' Brewery Vivant takes it a step further by putting high-minded brews in decidedly downmarket cans. The Triomphe Belgian IPA has all the spice, citrus and aroma drinkers would expect from a tulip glass at a specialty pub, but seems an odd fit amid the other canned offerings. It's a bigger beer at 6.2% ABV and isn't built or price for a summer drinking session, but if you're looking for that one great, strong beer that will last through a summer sunset, this is tough to beat. -- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.
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