The coming of fall is a two-faced beast. On one side, the cooler weather makes the arrival of the electric bill and the wearing of long-sleeved shirts less anxiety-filled affairs. On the other, the end of weekends at the beach and the luxury of leaving work while the sun still shines is less than ideal. There is one staple of summer that need not die with the changing of the seasons, though. The bonfire knows no meteorological bounds. In the summer it is an intimate night light; in the winter, a sustentative source of warmth. The bonfire has for millennia been a sacred meeting place of close friends and excuse to drink indiscriminate amounts of beer.
The bonfire has always been the domain of canned beer (well, at least since they began canning beer). Cans cannot shatter and are without pretense. Unfortunately, until this decade, they were not filled with very good beer. However, in recent years more and more craft brewers have turned to the metal casings to house their sweet nectars.
This opens the door for not only more pleasurable bonfire-ing, but also the painless indoctrination of good friends to good brew. Maybe, just maybe, if the vessel looks like a Natty or a High Life, loved ones will finally give an ale a try. Here are five canned crafts that are perfect for a fall bonfire and any palate.
Dale’s Pale Ale: This offering from Oskar Blues Brewery out of Lyons, Colo., is the one that started it all. Oskar Blues credits itself with being the first craft brewery to use cans, and uses them exclusively. Dale’s Pale is assertively hoppy, but its bitterness is not lingering and it is an easy drinker. On a side note, the Oskar Blues folks are a pretty laid-back bunch, as evidenced by a printed circle on every can that notes the best place to turn it into a smoking device (6.50 percent ABV).
Boont Amber Ale: Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, Calif., has been bottling great beer for years now, and this flagship ale was one of its first to be offered in a can. The Winter Solstice ale is truly something to behold, but the Boont Ale is perfect for the hop-averse consumer. It has a lot of malt and caramel up front without leaving a lingering syrupy taste. The Boont is welcoming to any novice beer drinker, yet can be appreciated by beer geeks everywhere (5.80 percent ABV).
Porkslap Pale Ale: From Butternuts Beer and Ale of Garratsville, N.Y., Porkslap represents the least challenging brew on this list. With a very light dose of hops, and a fair amount of carbonation, this American pale ale will suit most anyone who enjoys American light lager. While it may not have a ton of complexity, it’s a tasty and universal offering (4.30 percent ABV).
White Rascal Witbier: White Rascal comes your way via Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder, Colo. Not typically viewed as a fall style, the witbier deserves a spot nonetheless. Especially White Rascal, which has enough spice to bring some warming qualities to the typical summer staple. All hesitant drinkers at your bonfire can simply be told, "It is like Blue Moon, but better" (5.60 percent ABV).
Back in Black IPA: Last, but not least, comes Back in Black IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery located in downtown San Francisco. The all-black can is simultaneously intimidating and intriguing. By appearance alone, it should be a popular choice in any cooler. Inside the can is the most interesting part, though. An IPA by name, 21st Amendment went off the beaten path and brewed Back in Black with dark malts. This gives the beer a chocolate smokiness to go along with the pop of the full serving of hops. It truly is an awesome take on a craft staple, and one that will leave everyone wondering what exactly it was they just drank (6.80 percent).
That should be enough to get started. A cooler full of those five choices will bring excitement and intrigue from all attendees to the bonfire. Also, at mostly 5+ percent ABV, these no frills beers will only serve to enhance the collective "mood." Enjoy!
— Danya Henninger, The Drink Nation
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