How can you invest in the local economy, have a good time on the weekends, and actually feel good about it? Obviously, there are many answers to this question, but today we’re focusing on beer. That’s right, you’re one cold mug away from being a conscientious buyer.
This topic is near and dear to my heart, as I have made so many precious memories in tiny taprooms and breweries. Talking to the individual brewers themselves as they describe their process has also been a wonderful experience and has allowed me to learn about their undying passion and the craft all the while I consume the fruits of their labor.
While craft brews often have a wild variety of flavors, sometimes you just want a crisp, simple ale. Today, I’m starting with the easy-drinking, best-known brews so your regular Sunday BBQ or beach day can feel a bit more local. Enjoying a local brew is a simple way to support your community while you hang out with friends, cheer on your favorite team, or binge-watch your favorite TV show.
Each beer listed below is accompanied by a flavor profile to help you find a similar pour. From there you can look for craft and independent beers online, in taprooms, and in local eateries. If your personal favorite isn’t listed, you can use the style of brew, type of ingredients, and notes listed, to find beers similar to your preference.
If you prefer the clean, clear taste that reminds you of boat rides and backyards, a rice lager should do the trick. The combination of hops, grains, and rice makes for a light lager with a crisp bitterness that compliments a sweet head. If you’re not fond of those terms, a simple rice lager should do. I’ve found only a few breweries that could emulate these flavors, but that could be a result of my geography more than anything.
A tan head with bready malt and caramel finish has been the longest brewed flavor in American history. While not the lightest of beers, they still hold drinkability. Searching for a Samuel Adams-esque brew is a little trickier, as these beers can hide their flavors in the Kolsch brew, copper ale, or as precedence holds a Boston-style lager.
Guinness is a classic stout by anyone’s standards. This beer features a blend of sweet malt, bitter hops, and notes of mocha. If you love Guinness more than life itself (like my partner does) exploring the many stouts that craft brewers have concocted will feel like entering an unknown wonderland that’s filled with these rich, dark flavors. You’re looking for these four words: stout, malt, coffee, and chocolate. They’ll be your golden ticket.
As stated on their azure label, a Belgian-style wheat ale is what you’re looking for to replace this bar favorite. Coriander in the brewing process of a wheat beer makes this orange pairing beer its own unique glass. These spices interact with citrus notes to give the perfect pairing to spicy, tangy foods, which makes a wonderful addition to BBQs or a night of dim sum.
A Mexican-style lager, enjoyed on far more occasions than Cinco de Mayo, can compete for this summer’s spotlight. Any indication of salt, lime, tequila, or otherwise could be the party you’re looking for. I may not be a pro at astrology readings, but you’re in for a good time if you’re looking for this zesty lager.
Leinenkugel is a traditional Weisse beer—a sour wheat beer variant from northern Germany. More commonly known in my own circles as the equivalent of sipping on a lemonade by the pool, this fruit-brewed wheat beer features citrus notes that could cure your summer blues or sweet tooth fix. My personal favorite certainly makes me a bit biased; I’ve definitely found some local stars here in Florida.
Tips for finding a tasty local brew
You can start by looking through directories such as the Brewers Association’s Independent Brewer directory and craftbeer.com. There are also a variety of apps out there, including Untappd and Craftcheck, that could aid your search, especially if you’re in a smaller area and ordering beer for delivery. Be sure to try this trick with your favorite seltzers and ciders, as well. You never know what you’ll find once you know how to look!