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Five summer brews for the great outdoors

Great canned beers
Great canned beers
B. Sniatkowski

Beer and summer go together like, well, beer and summer. It’s no secret that many outdoors enthusiasts enjoy a cold beer on occasion. Boaters, anglers and campers often pack some brews in a cooler to enjoy and even backpackers, usually sticklers for traveling light, have been known to slip a can or three into their backpacks to savor in front of an evening campfire.

So what makes a good summer beer? Flavor is paramount because there is a chance you might not be drinking it cold. The popular and almost flavorless, mass market American lagers are meant to be consumed ice cold and fall flat on their faces if they get warm, while a full flavored beer can be perfectly delightful at warmer temperatures.

Second, a summer beer needs to be refreshing. A Russian imperial stout or a double IPA may be perfect on a brisk fall day or apres ski, but could be bit overwhelming on a sweltering, summer afternoon after a softball game. Next, a perfect summer beer should be low in alcohol. It’s not only a bad idea to operate a boat after downing a few 10% ABV IPAs, you can lose your operators license or worse.

And finally it should come in cans. Cans cool off quickly when dunked in a stream or lake and can be crushed to save space, allowing them to be easily packed out. They also weigh less and take up a bit less room than bottles. With many craft breweries now canning their product, the stigma of canned beer equaling lousy beer is a thing of the past. Here are five canned brews perfect for a summer day or evening in the great outdoors.

Boat Beer (Carton Brewing Co.) - A refreshing India Pale Ale (IPA) with an ABV of only 4.2% ,this is an ideal beer to have if you’re having more than one. Crisp with a slight grapefruit finish and a solid hop backbone.

All Day IPA (Founders Brewing Co.) - There are notes of pine and lemon in this IPA from the venerable Founders Brewing Company. The 4.7% ABV means you can drink a few without feeling as if you've been hit by a freight train. Mouth feel is a bit thin with heavy carbonation, so fans of the popular big brewery offerings may find something to like here.

Barking Squirrel (Hop City Brewing Co. ) - Despite the name of the brewery, this beer offers much more malt than hop flavor. For those who prefer a malty brew, this amber lager is a good choice.

The Crisp (Sixpoint Brewery) - True to its name, this is a crisp and refreshing German style pilsner with a fruity finish and well balanced malt and hop flavors. At 5.4 % ABV it has a bit more kick than the previous brews but is still low enough that one can have a couple without setting off a breathalyzer.

Dales Pale Ale (Ozkar Blues Brewing) - Dales is simply too good to leave out when discussing ideal summer (or any season) beers. It's listed as a pale ale, but has enough hop bitterness to compete with some IPAs. A complex and well balanced brew. At 6.5% ABV it's considerably stronger than the previously mentioned beers, so it's probably best to leave Dales for consumption in front of a campfire.

There is no doubt I've missed some other very good ones. Feel free to use the comment section to nominate some of your favorites.

Beer, summer and the outdoors go well together, but intoxication and the outdoors don't mix. Please drink responsibly and remember, if you pack it in, pack it out.

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