Sure, summer is a perfect time for any light, crisp refreshing beer, but doesn't our nation's independence deserve better than that? Just like how Christmas-themed beers are dragged to the table each December, we vote to bring some of the 4th of July beers to the BBQ this Thursday. But what is a 4th of July-themed beer? No, not a Budweiser can with an American Flag splayed across the can. Independence Day beers are more subtle than that.
With names that hint at rebellion, freedom and other tenants of American awesomeness, many year-round craft beers have a built-in necessity to be drunk beneath a fireworks-laden sky. And then there are those with expiration dates on the 4th of July and communist-themed beers that evoke tenants of the American Revolution. Turn the page for the top 5 craft beers you should be drinking this 4th of July.
5. Union Jack, Firestone Walker Brewing Company
American IPA, 7.5%
Celebrate America's independence from the Brits by consuming one of the best American-style IPAs named after their line-filled flag. A label that shows a lion and a bear moments from sparring is sure to get you back in that revolutionary spirit, but the imagery is not only a reference to the brewery's half-English-half-Californian ownership. It's also a representation of the beer itself, a hoppy American update to the maltier British IPA that consistently ranks among one of the best in the style. Available at even most supermarkets in six-packs of 12-oz. bottles, Firestone's hop trip flagship is a classic craft brew made with a summer day in mind.
4. Brew Free or Die IPA, 21st Amendment Brewing
American IPA, 7%ABV
Okay, so you may have to call on your NorCal friends to help you find this one, but San Francisco's 21st Amendment Brewery's cans of patriotic beers are worth seeking out. From the Fireside Chat winter warmer to the Sneak Attack saison (which features a cartoon of Washington crossing the Delaware — with a beer in hand), this Giants Park-adjacent brewpub has been churning out cheekily named beers since 2000. But none is more celebratory of the brewery's namesake amendment (the one that repealed prohibition) than its Brew Free or Die IPA, regularly available in six-packs anywhere north of Big Sur. Down here, try K&L in Hollywood or Ramirez in East L.A., both are known to occasionally get 21st Amendment.
3. Enjoy by 07.04.13, Stone Brewing Company
Double IPA, 9.4%ABV
If you haven't tried any of Stone's Enjoy By yet, there is no better time than Independence Day. Not only will the double IPA's hoppiness rip through your palate like Paul Revere did to Boston's 'burbs the night of his midnight ride, but July 4 is also when the next batch of Stone's freshness experiment technically expires. Of course you can drink the Enjoy By bottles labeled “07.04.13” on July 5 or any other day after that, but the whole reason the stalwart San Diego brewery created the series was to make a beer people needed to drink right now. Don't let this bottle go past its prime before knocking one back in honor of America.
2. Revolution XPA, Eagle Rock Brewery
Extra Pale Ale, 5.2%
A lighter-bodied version of a traditional American Pale Ale, Revolution XPA is an L.A.-made session beer worth drinking year round. But with its name conjuring up images of political activism and its assertive hop character representing the steadfast American spirit of rebellion, the Eagle Rock offering is almost ready-made for 4th of July guzzling. Sure, the local brewery has kept with a more communist theme for its beer naming. Leave the Marxist influence at the door, though, and this beer (available in bottles citywide and in growlers at the brewery) is sure to become an L.A. Independence Day tradition.
1. Liberty Ale, Anchor Brewing
Dry-hopped ale, 5.9%ABV
In 1975 when Anchor Brewing released its Liberty ale, most beer drinkers had no idea what to do with it. Sure it was light in color and body like all the other beers on the market at the time, but with the American adjunct lager ruling supreme, its floral aroma and bitter taste were from another beer planet. Dry hopped with Cascade hops decades before that was even a thing, Liberty Ale is the precursor to the American IPA and is a reminder of how far we've come in craft beer since America's bicentennial.
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