Alright, my fellow Americans, Independence Day 2014 is fast approaching. And the traditional way to celebrate the USA’s independence from the colonial maw of Great Britain is with fireworks, barbecued meat, and beer! But which fireworks? Which meat? Which beer? Well, we at Everything On Tap cannot really help you with the fireworks and meat, but we can certainly help you with the beer, and suggest food pairings. After all, if you are hosting your block’s 4th of July party, and you serve some watery light beer, that is just lame. So take a look at these top 5 craft beers to serve at your 5th of July party: each one also come with a food pairing. And yes, they are all American beers! All of these beers should be available at most stores that stock craft beers in most larger US cities. If you cannot find one of them, please drop us a line, and we will try to point you in the right direction.
1. The Alchemist Heady Topper.
Heady Topper double IPA is frequently rated the best beer in the United States, and for good reason. This super India Pale Ale is brewed with six different varieties of hops, giving it an intense but pleasant bitterness filled with elements of grapefruit, citrus, pine, grass, and flowers. And underneath that is a lovely malted grain and fruit flavor that appears on the finish. It is an intensely-flavored, superbly-balanced ale that is worthy of the coolers of craft beer aficionados everywhere. And as an extra bonus, this beer only comes in cans, so you can fit more in your cooler, and it will chill more quickly. If you have any craft beer enthusiasts at your 4th party, trust us that you will be a total hit with this beer. Pair Heady Topper with fresh Bratwurst hot dogs on sourdough buns with spicy, stone-ground English or German mustard.
2. Ithaca Ground Break Ale.
Ithaca designed Ground Break Ale as an ale to celebrate Summer. It is a highly-rated but seasonal craft beer, so what better time to enjoy it than the 4th of July? Ground Break Ale has a lovely spice-filled aroma and a full, spicy flavor with some nice hoppy bitterness, but not as much as a hardcore IPA. The smell of freshly-mown grass; the crack of a baseball bat; kids running under a water sprinkler; long, hot, lazy days — you will find all of these inside this bottle. Serve this chilled — but not freezing cold — and sip it as you watch fireworks explode in the sky. As for food, this lovely summer ale would be the perfect compliment to flavorful, handmade, freshly-grilled cheeseburgers on artisanal bread buns.
3. Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager.
This nice little brew from Sierra Nevada is a lager, not an ale, which mean that it will have a lighter flavor than the others. Summerfest Lager is a lovely little fresh, crisp, light beer (not light in the sense of Miller Lite, but in the sense of not being heavy or overwhelming). There is a nice hoppy citrus and grassy element on the tongue, as well as a light sense of malted grains. The focus of a lager is indeed to be able to drink it as a refreshing beverage rather than as a heavy, intense ale. So this little gem is perfect for your summer Independence Day party. Serve it well-chilled, and pair it with barbecued chicken.
4. Three Floyds Zombie Dust Pale Ale.
This odd-sounding beer is actually a very nice all-around American ale, of a very high-quality. There is a fruity quality present, with hints of mango, pineapple, orange, lemon, and grapefruit. The malt manifests itself as a faint sweetness (but in no way cloying), especially on the finish and the aftertaste. The hops are bright and pleasantly bitter, with elements of pine, grass, and citrus. If you want a good, all-around beer that will please the crowd on the 4th, then this is your beer. Serve it lightly chilled, but not too cold, because you want all of those complex flavors to come out on the palate. And speaking of the palate, pair this great, classic American ale with tender, juicy pork chops, fresh off of the barbecue.
5. Rogue Dead Guy Ale.
Do not let the name scare you off. Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale is another excellent crowd pleaser. It is a good all-around ale that is not too much of this, not too much of that. Its malted grain flavor, with some mild hoppiness, will appeal to everyone. It is not too expensive, and it is available everywhere. If you are thinking of buying a mass-produced American beer like Budweiser for your 4th of July party, do yourself (and your guests!) a favor, and upgrade to Dead Guy Ale. It is worlds better, without having a specialist flavor that only real enthusiasts will appreciate. This ale really goes with anything: it is a good, solid, basic craft ale. And the other great thing about it, is that it will pair with just about anything you can imagine putting on the barbecue grill.
Happy Independence Day to our US readers!