The Freedom of Independent American Breweries
July 4th holds a very special place in our hearts, as not only is it the annual celebration of the founding of our great nation, it’s the perfect time for fun with friends and family, cooking out on the grill, and of course for some great beer. Just like the American Experiment, craft beer thrives on being independent, which is one of the core requirements for a brewery to even be called craft.
That means when you buy craft beer, you’re supporting the idea of freedom and independence while getting the best beer possible. Seems like a real win-win situation.
You can take things one step further and experience a veritable “Pimp My Ride” level of freedom by choosing canned beer. With craft beer in a can, you gain the additional freedom to take your beer many more places that bottles just can’t go like tailgating, the beach, and the pool. Canned beer is safe, gets cold quicker, and is better for the environment (as long as you recycle, which you obviously do, right?).
Independence and beer aren’t always synonymous though. There are a growing number of “crafty” breweries today that look to be small, independent breweries but instead are owned by massive corporations that care less about independence and freedom and more about profit margins and marketing. Spend your hard-earned money where it makes the most impact, and that’s with independent American breweries near and far.
Check out our list of independent American breweries below that love to can their beer, and while this list is VERY far from a complete list, it’s a great start so you know what you’re drinking not only for our nation’s birthday, but all year long.
Anderson Valley Brewing Co.
Founded in California in 1987, Anderson Valley Brewing Co. originally had a small 10-barrel brewhouse that was in their original brewpub. Unlike today, there were about 20 craft breweries IN THE COUNTRY, making AVBC true pioneers in the craft brewing business. It didn’t take long for the burgeoning brewery to outgrown their original digs, and by 1996 it was time for some serious growth in the form of a new 100-barrel brewhouse.
AVBC has pioneered quite a few trends in craft beer that we consider fairly normal today including their gose (pronounced go-zuh) series of beers and their partnership with Wild Turkey and their bourbon barrels.
Speaking of gose beers, Anderson Valley started canning their first version of this very old style of beer, known as “The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose” in 2014. This marked the first gose-style beer to see the inside of a can…ever. Today, you can find a variety of AVBC beers in cans, including their other gose beers like Blood Orange Gose, Briney Melon Gose, and the G&T Gose. Their Summer Solstice is joining in the craft can love, making it the perfect choice for long summer days.
For 30 years and counting, Bell’s Brewery has added to the craft brewing culture of America. From the early days of brewing with a 15-gallon soup pot in Kalamazoo to the 200-barrel brewhouse that’s used today, Bell’s is a serious craft beer contender.
Bell’s is known both for their outstanding year-round beers as well as their special seasonal offerings. Since we’re in the heart of summer, the best answer for what beer you should have is pretty simple: Oberon. Summertime favorite Oberon from Bell’s Brewery is out once again this summer and thankfully it’s still coming in the aluminum receptacle that we love. Light and refreshing, you can find Oberon in multiple formats this year including the mini keg to help you with all your porch sitting and grass cutting, koozie not included.
Also available in cans this year is the year-round crowd favorite, Two Hearted Ale. Brewed with 100% Centennial hops and named after the Two Hearted River in Michigan, this beer is perfect all year. Coming in at 7% ABV and with the addition of cans to the lineup, Two Hearted is one beer that you’ll be glad isn’t seasonal.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales
When it comes to naming craft breweries off the top of your head, most people name Dogfish Head first, if not in their top 5. With a history longer than many craft breweries, Dogfish Head is most well-known thanks to owner Sam Calagione and the short-lived reality show that focused on the brewery.
Known for using weird and wild ingredients, Dogfish Head rarely fails to impress us with their new and interesting beers. Looking at their canned offerings, their SeaQuench Ale is more than just a clever play on words. This seasonal sessionable sour beer is brewed with lime peel, black limes, and sea salt to give it a fresh, citrus character that mates perfectly with the sourness of this beer.
Another great canned beer from DFH is their Romantic Chemistry IPA that’s brewed with mango, apricots, and ginger. This 7.2% ABV beer has enough bitterness to make hopheads happy while giving you a tropical fruit taste and aroma that balances things out nicely.
Heavy Seas Beer
The story of Heavy Seas Beer started back in 1994 when would-be founder Hugh Sisson left his family owned and operated brewpub to focus on larger scale brewing. In 1995 he founded Clipper City Brewing Company in Baltimore, Maryland. The Clipper City brewery focused primarily on those in and around Baltimore with both recipes and branding, as the clipper ship was first constructed in Baltimore, so they’re pretty big fans of them there.
Jump ahead to today, and Heavy Seas Beer is a strong and multi-faceted brand that includes beers that run the gamut from low to high, light to dark, and strong to balanced in taste. In short, there’s a beer for everyone in their lineup. A great example of independent brewing, Heavy Seas keeps things local to make some pretty amazing beer.
Take for example their Smooth Sail Summer Ale. Smooth Sail is a wheat ale that’s brewed with orange and lemon peel, and was brewed to give the beer an airy mouthfeel and a nice frothy head. Head Brewer Chris Leonard says they employed a neutral strain of wheat yeast to produce a clean tasting beer that’s delicate on the palate. In short, it’s light, slightly hoppy, and citrusy to give you an amazingly refreshing summer beer, and at 4.5% ABV, it’s easy to have a few while sitting on the porch and enjoying the nicer weather.
Another great canned beer from Heavy Seas is their flagship Loose Cannon IPA. You’d expect the flagship beer for a brewery to be pretty amazing, and Loose Cannon delivers on this in strides. This 7.25% ABV beer has an intense hop aroma thanks to Simcoe, Palisade, and Centennial hops, which give the beer a mix of grapefruit, herbs, and pine.
North Country Brewing Co.
Looking a little more locally, Slipper Rock’s North Country Brewing Company is an independent brewery that’s all about canned beer. With more beers than we could list here, it’s their primary lineup that keeps us coming back for more. The beers you can always expect to find from North Country include their Slimy Pebble Pils, Bucco Blonde Ale, Firehouse Red Ruby Ale, Paleo IPA, and Buck Snort Stout. Stinky Hippie, and Jack Frost Winter Warmer are also great examples of the magic of canned beer.
On top of these keystone beers, NCBC loves to experiment with sour beers, too. Be on the lookout for Lurnberry & Dinglegerry in the new Sour Series heading your way in July.
Smuttynose Brewing Co.
Brewing craft beer since 1994, Smuttynose Brewing Company calls New Hampshire home. Smuttynose Brewing saw its start thanks to a bankruptcy auction where the founder Peter Egelston purchased the equipment that he used to make the first Smuttynose beers.
From there the brewery grew but remained in New Hampshire and as independent as ever. Today Smuttynose makes a variety of beer that’s consistently good and starting to be available in cans.
Starting off, Smuttynose will be canning their Summer IPA and Finestkind IPA, both with updated art and design on the outside, but the beer we love remaining the same on the inside.
Stone Brewing Co. was founded in 1996 by Greg Koch (pronounced “cook”) and Steve Wagner in San Marcos, CA. The first keg of beer ever produced by the brewery was their Stone Pale Ale, and while not in production today, it was the beer that launched an empire, so to speak. In their first year of brewing, Stone Brewing produced 400 barrels of beer, which was easily surpassed by the 2,100 barrels brewed in 1997. This tremendous growth has continued throughout Stone’s history up to today. While Stone Brewing now has breweries on two continents, they remain fiercely independent and show that a brewery can succeed without selling out.
Like other craft breweries, Stone Brewing is embracing the move towards canned beer. While they have started canning their year-round favorites like Stone IPA, they’re moving some of their seasonals and new releases to cans now, too. Take for example their new Ghost Hammer IPA. This 6.7% ABV beer is being released in cans and features Loral and Magnum hops to give it a refreshing, bitter flavor that’s perfect for summer days and nights when you need a little liquid courage scaring off some ghosts of your own.
Their latest Enjoy By IPA that expires on July 4th this time around saw its first release in cans this time, and they’re as patriotic as you’d expect. While you may have missed your chance at the Enjoy By 7-4-2017, fear not, as the canning was a wild success so we expect to see more of these come canned in the future.
Tröegs Independent Brewing
Tröegs Brewing Company was founded in 1996 in Harrisburg, PA by the Trogner brothers John and Chris. The name Tröegs came from a combination of a nickname including their last name and the Dutch word for pub, kroeg. The first keg sold by Tröegs took place in July 1997, officially kicking off the great beer we know and love today.
It would be hard to talk about canned beer and not mention the outstanding seasonal from Tröegs that’s known as Nimble Giant. This hefty double IPA known as Nimble Giant. This 9% ABV imperial IPA is a late-summer seasonal that’s only available in 16 oz. “pounder” cans and on draft. Brewed with Azacca, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops, Nimble Giant features notes of grapefruit rind, pineapple, and honeysuckle while keeping an earthy character that makes this IPA one that any hop head needs to try as soon as possible.
Also coming back again this year in cans is Tröegs Brewing’s Sunshine Pils, this year sporting its all-new artwork and design. This straw-golden Pilsner comes in at 4.5% ABV and is possibly one of the most refreshing beers you’ll ever try. Brewed with Pilsner malt and both Hersbrucker and Saaz hops, this Euro-style Pilsner is crisp and light while having a solid hop character. Perfect for just about any meal or a good day of yard work, Sunshine Pils is like sunshine in a can. Catch Sunshine Pils while you can, as it’s only available in the summer months.
Summer is when the beautiful hibiscus flower blows, and Tröegs Brewing decided to take full advantage of it this year for their new Crimson Pistil Hibiscus IPA. This 6.2% ABV beer features a mix of berry-like tanginess, tropical hop notes, and a hearty dose of bitterness to give you your new favorite summertime beer.
The stigma of beer in cans being of poor quality or tasting like metal are quickly fading away, and just like the feeling of freedom we all experience every July 4th, the freedom of taking canned beer where you want while protecting not only yourself but the beer inside is one that more people are starting to experience. Show your love for independence and freedom and try some of these canned beers today.