Though we've had our share of canned craft beer for a while now, the first Southern California craft beer available in a can hit L.A.-area beverage shops over the weekend. Well, sort of. San Diego-based TailGate Beer founder Wesley Keegan doesn't actually make his Blacktop Blonde in California. The American-style blonde ale was initially brewed in Orange County, now it's brewed in Minnesota (the corporate headquarters are still in San Diego). Semantics.
The canned version debuted in San Diego earlier this year and just hit L.A.-area BevMo stores, with more local retailers to come. What did we think when a 6-pack landed on our desk? Turn the page.
As for the reason behind the can, Keegan, a self-proclaimed avid fan of tailgating (surprise, surprise), says via a press release that “we've found that consumers want an inexpensive, quality brew that's going to compliment that casual [tailgate] setting.” Hey, some of us think tailgates are exactly the sort of share-and-share-alike events where those aged Bruery 2 Turtle Doves should make their debut with friends.
Taste wise, Blacktop Blonde gets points for having a more pronounced hops flavor than your average mass-produced canned beer (a compliment). Yet we also think this Beer Advocate consumer review is pretty spot-on, down to the B- letter rating. Which is to say this pale ale may not be revolutionary, but it's far better than your average commercial tasteless canned lager.
And while we agree with Keegan that sometimes cans do come in handy, we would argue that bottles are easy enough to handle at drive-and-park events like tailgates. It's during those pack-in/pack-out foot traffic activities — say, hiking up a hundred+ stairs at the Hollywood Bowl — when a backpack full of clanking glass can get a bit annoying. Still, if we're going the canned route, we'd rather pay about the same price for a 6-pack of Dale's Pale Ale.
On the upside, if you don't fall in love with this beer, you can always use those leftover cans in that “Blacktop Blonde Chick-Can” recipe conveniently printed on the box. It's your basic chicken-atop-a-beer-can grilling recipe, only here you arrange three chickens into a pyramid shape on your grill. A fire department-friendly bonfire. Now that's a pretty clever tailgate trick.
TailGate Beer's BlackTop Blonde, about $9 per 6-pack at BevMo.