Maybe Budweiser got one thing right with its new marketing campaign.
No, that beer isn’t actually synonymous with “America,” the word emblazoned on its new cans. But perhaps beer itself is.
After all, it’s the undisputed beverage of choice for the pool, for the cookout, for gazing at fireworks. It’s no surprise that beer sales can peak around the Fourth of July weekend, according to data from IRI Worldwide. This weekend it’s not a question of if you should be drinking beer, but what kind of beer you should be drinking. Fortunately there are locally brewed options for nearly every palate.
Light and Refreshing
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When it comes to beers that are lighter in both color and body, there’s no shortage of options around town. And while you’ll find key differences between styles like wheat beers, saisons or light lagers, they are all refreshing beers that will slake your thirst this summer.
Local examples in this admittedly broad category include The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Southside Weiss, Sugar Creek Brewing’s White Ale, Free Range Brewing’s Cream of the Crop, Sycamore Brewing’s Southern Girl blonde ale, and the newly opened Blue Blaze Brewing’s Yellow Blazer Kölsch.
Run It Through the Garden
Summer’s bounty isn’t confined to the farmer’s market; you’ll find herbs, fruits and vegetables in several local beers, too.
NoDa Brewing’s NoDajito, a beer version of the mojito, is brewed with mint leaves and lime zest.
For its 26.BREW collaboration with Lenny Boy Brewing, they used local, organic beets that are said to aid a runner’s recovery (you can find this beer at both breweries).
Speaking of beers brewed with roots (but not root beers), you can find ginger in The Unknown Brewing Co.’s Ginger Wheat as well as Wooden Robot Brewery’s Legendary Roots Brew, their new ginger saison.
On Saturday, Triple C Brewing will release cans of Golden Girl, which is the brewery’s Golden Boy blonde ale infused with tart cherries and Summit Coffee.
Hoppy or Bitter
Like the light and refreshing category above, the hoppy category is broad. It has to be, given the endless array of different substyles of India pale ales there are these days.
Here in Charlotte, you can choose from lower-ABV session IPAs like NoDa Brewing’s recently canned Par 4, or opt for cloudy and juicy New England-style examples from Heist Brewery (the brewery recently experienced an IPA shortage, but just tapped several).
Birdsong Brewing is now on its third canning of Fake Plastic Trees, which is the brewery’s hoppy wheat ale.
You can always find several hop-heavy beers at Legion Brewing Company in Plaza Midwood, the latest of which is a big 8.8 percent double IPA called One Girl, Two Hops.
Malty or Sweet
As fitting as light beers are under a hot July sun, malt-forward styles often provide a better match for grilled foods, thanks to notes of caramel or chocolate that come from the darker grains.
Most might not immediately think of a porter for the Fourth of July, but Three Spirits Brewery’s Honey Porter is sweet and smooth, lacking the roastiness you’ll usually find in the style. It’s easy to see why owner Tabu Terrell refers to his beers as “comfort beers.”
NoDa Brewing recently canned Ramble on Red, the amber ale they have brewed since they opened five years ago.
Another good match for grilled fare? Salud Beer Shop’s new BBQ Belt Saison. It’s brewed with malt smoked over cherrywood and applewood, plus smoked ancho and serrano peppers, clove honey and star anise.
Event of the week
Fourth of July Weekend at Sycamore Brewing
When: Friday through Monday.
Where: 2161 Hawkins St.
What: Sycamore Brewing will play host to a variety of food trucks and bands over the course of the Fourth of July weekend. As the new home to South End’s Food Truck Friday, it will have eight trucks on Friday night plus live music from Time Sawyer and Red Leg Huskey Band. The Gyro Twins Truck will be parked outside on Saturday, with live music from Dirt Poor at 2 p.m. and Todd Johnson and the Revolvers at 6 p.m. On Sunday, TIN Kitchen will be serving food and the Jason Clay Band starts playing at 2 p.m. And on the Fourth of July, the brewery will open at noon for a “Pre-Fireworks Pre-Game Party” featuring another food truck and live music from Fish Out Of Water.