We are getting into those dog days of summer here around the Triangle… Those days where you can’t walk outside without sweating. There is nothing better when this time of year rolls around than sitting on the beach (or around the pool) where you can cool off. I just returned from a mini vacation down at Holden Beach and it got me thinking about what are the best beers to have in hand while lounging on the beach. So, I decided to come up with my favorite beach/pool beers for the summer. All the beers on this list are canned, since you aren’t really supposed to have glass bottles on the beach or around pools (plus, who doesn’t like a nice set of cans?) Another requirement I gave myself is that these beers also have to be (somewhat) readily available in the Carolinas… Yes, I’m sure it’s refreshing to have things like Heady Topper or Jai Alai, but they aren’t exactly easy to find around Raleigh. So with that criteria in mind… Here’s my list:
5. Backcountry Black IPA by Deep River Brewing Company
This is one spot where I could make an argument for just about any of Deep River’s cans. I think it depends on what you like. Of the 3 styles they currently can (Rye Pale, Wit, and Black IPA), I prefer the Black IPA, but I wouldn’t argue with you if you said it should be one of the other two. It’s also an added bonus that they come in tall boys. I hear that it won’t be long before we see their Watermelon Lager in cans as well. That should make a lot of people very happy. It’s awesome to see more and more of the local breweries switching to cans as opposed to bottles. Kudos to Deep River for that.
4. Any Beer by Oskar Blues Brewery
Oskar Blues makes some exceptional canned beers. With the exception of Ten Fidy or Old Chub, I think most any of Oskar Blues brews could be a great beach/pool beer. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ten Fidy, but it’s not something I want to be sipping on in 90 degree weather. Dale’s Pale Ale, Gubna, G’Knight, or Deviant Dale’s would be the ones I would choose from, depending on what I was looking for. Want something a little more easy drinking? Dale’s Pale it is. Want something a little more sweet/citrusy? Gubna is a great choice (although be careful, because at 10% ABV, things could head downhill fast). Prefer it a little more malty? Grab a G’Knight. Or maybe you want some combination the previous 3? Deviant Dale’s solves that issue. You can’t really go wrong with any of these… especially if found fresh. So make sure to check the canning date.
3. Gose by Westbrook Brewing Company
This beer was a game-changer for me. Sours have been all the craze in the beer world over the past year or so and for the longest time, I didn’t get it. They are low alcohol content and often fairly high priced. I felt like I was missing out on what so many others were raving about, so I continued to try them. This sour was the one that really turned the corner for me. For those of you that haven’t had a Gose (pronounced “goes uh”), it’s a salty sour. Now, I know some of you are thinking… you can’t get this beer in North Carolina, so why is it on the list? Many of us travel to the southern NC beaches (myself included) or even to SC for beach vacations. If you are getting even remotely close to SC, you should do a little research, find some craft beer shops, and call them. It’s worth it. It’s not as easy to come by as it has been in the past, so make sure you confirm its whereabouts before you venture across state lines in search of it. You can find it on shelves a lot of places in the state of Georgia. I had my brother, who lives outside of Atlanta, bring me a case to the beach last week because it is my favorite beach beer. If I could get it a little more easily, it would definitely be #1 on my list.
2. Hop, Drop and Roll by NoDa Brewing Company
This seems to be a re-occurring character in just about any list I create (See Top 10 North Carolina IPAs). This beer definitely deserves consideration for the top spot, but its going to fall to #2 on my list. I think the only issue I have with this beer is that it’s so damn hard to get your hands on now. Since winning a gold medal for Best American-Style IPA in the 2014 World Beer Cup, everyone wants this beer. And the Raleigh area bottle shops can’t get as much or get it as often as they used to be able to. (Shout out to another local beer guy, Mike Reilly, for heading down to Charlotte and bringing me back some… and to Ted at Bottle Revolution for bringing some into the shop right before my trip so I could pick up a four pack on our way out of town.) With talks of a NoDa expansion, I’ve heard that it shouldn’t be too long before we can get it a little easier. Keep your fingers crossed.
1. The Kimmie, the Yink, and the Holy Gose by Anderson Valley Brewing Company
I know you are thinking, “Another Gose high on the list? What the hell?” This beer has taken the beer world by storm since it hit the Raleigh market here in the past month or so. Now, I’ll admit I haven’t always loved everything put out by AVBC, so I was a little skeptical about it. Not that they suck as a brewery or anything… they have done a lot of beers I have really enjoyed in the past. What I mean is, there aren’t a lot of breweries around that make Gose style beers, so to see them put one out raised my eyebrows a bit. But they hit this one out of the park! It’s about as easy drinking as they come. And there’s something about sitting on the beach, breathing in the salt air with this beer in your hand. Like I said… this isn’t my favorite Gose beer (although it’s very close), but you can still go to most bottle shops around Raleigh and find this sitting on the shelves. That makes it worthy of #1 in my book.
So for all of you that haven’t had the chance to take a beach vacation yet, keep an eye out for these and make sure you stock up on them before your trip. For those of you spending your weekends relaxing by the local pool, keep your fridge stocked. It’s too hot to be doing any real exercise outside, so my recommendation is to work your biceps with curls of 12-16 oz cans with frequent repetitions.