Vacation challenge: Craft beer in cans

Before heading off on our annual Summer vacation to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina I made the executive decision that I wanted to drink only craft beer in cans the entire week. With the growth of canned craft beer beyond stalwarts such as Oskar Blues I figured I was in for a real treat. I wasn’t wrong.

Craft Beer Cans
The canned craft beer in question in a pre-consumed state.

Here are the results of my extensive and enjoyable research:

  1. Carolina Brewery Sky Blue Ale
  2. Easily the best of the bunch. A German Kolsch – not a style you find very often, canned or otherwise – that truly suits warm weather. Spritzy, refreshing and flavorful. A million miles away from the fizzy yellow crap I saw all around me. *Cough* Michelob Ultra *Cough*

  3. Red Hare Brewing Long Day Lager
  4. A local (to me) brewery whose beers I haven’t been truly fond of, but at the beach, in a can, this one really shines. Something about the hops and the flavor. I think in other settings it seems almost too subtle as to be indistinguishable from other things but on a hot day in the sun you could appreciate that subtlety.

  5. Anderson Valley Brewing Company Hop Ottin’ IPA
  6. Hoppy beers, especially IPAs, make sense for me in the heat. Good enough for the British empire in India, good enough for me. This one is a new brewery to me, but they’ve been around since 1987. It’s a really good American, West coast interpretation of an IPA. I think the can mentioned something about awards but they get points in my book for being a solar-powered brewery. Very apropos for beach drinking in cans!

  7. Anderson Valley Brewing Company Summer Solstice
  8. Another beer from Anderson Valley that I’m less excited about, mostly because of the “natural flavor added” note on the can. I’ve seen the style of this beer listed as a Cream Ale but their website calls it “cream soda for adults”. Appropriate for the setting, strategically, but tactically all wrong. Pass.

  9. New Belgium Fat Tire
  10. A great brewery. A solid beer. What could go wrong? Just not right for the weather and the locale. Would’ve preferred Ranger or Shift in the can, but I got the Fat Tire at a Wal-Mart supercenter in Bluffton. Beggars can’t be choosers.

This was a very solid group of beers. The Sky Blue & Hop Ottin’ IPA being standouts and I gained a new-found respect for Long Day Lager.

The only one I’d stay away from in the future is the Summer Solstice. As for Fat Tire – as noted above – it’s a great beer, just not for the beach.

One of the many reasons I’m already looking forward to next year’s beach vacation is the opportunity to try even more craft beer in cans.

And if my personal beer revelations aren’t enough for you, check out this Andrew Sullivan blog post on the “Great Microbreweries of China” or this link my brother sent me on “Innovative ways to open beer“.


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