Top 10 Local Beers to Enhance Your Outdoor Moviegoing Experience

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Photos by Meredith Heil.

When I was in college, my roommate and I used to routinely sneak into the movies downtown, hoodie-wrapped 40s of Olde English and Ballantines nestled deep into our backpacks. We’d sit patiently, dying of thirst and eyeing the bulging, unzipped bag at our feet, until the theater went dark and the first round of previews exploded onto the screen. The trick was to wait until a loud sound–a car crash, roaring laughter, a booming crescendo–engulfed the room, then we’d quickly reach into the bag, rescue the booze and unscrew the the metal top, letting the surrounding din drown out the signature crack-hiss-fizz of the 40’s escaping carbonation. It was the perfect amount of beer for a two hour indie flick and for about $2 at the corner store, it was way cheaper than a Coke.

While I reflect lovingly on those malt liquor-fueled nights spent quietly sipping inside the chilly darkness of the Sunshine or the IFC, age has finally caught up with me and, to be honest, I just can’t drink malt liquor anymore. Because it’s gross. What’s more, I find it much harder to sneak into theaters and, well, have a bit more to lose on that front. So, what to do, besides fork over an arm and a leg at Nitehawk every other payday? Three words: outdoor summer movies.

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Outdoor movies are the best! For less than the price of a standard movie ticket, you can pack a picnic full of snacks and sixers and lounge happily in the grass with your buddies for an evening full of excitement, laughter and drinking out of red Solo cups. It’s summer-in-the city bliss, for sure. And while I know the summer’s almost over (wah wah), but there’s still a good month of outdoor films left to enjoy, so I put together this handy guide of suggested film and beer pairings to get you through the remainder of the viewing season.

Note: Drinking outside is still off-limits for most parts of this country, namely our beloved borough, so remember to keep it stealthy and tidy (cans work best, and don’t forget the cups), drink responsibly and don’t be that guy that ruins the night with your sporadic drunken singalongs.

Transmitter W1 Grapefruit Wit | Suggested Pairing: The Sound of Music, 8/21
Lug this soft, fruity witbier over to its namesake park for a wholesome screening of this classic family music and you won’t be disappointed. Spicy rye, herbal coriander and hints of black pepper keep this delicate wit as lively and feisty as those annoying von Trapp kids, curtain clothes and all.

Carton Boat Beer | Suggested Pairing: Hook, 8/21
One of my all time summer faves, Boat Beer, pairs perfectly with any film shot at least in part on an actual boat–it’s a no brainer. This session ale, with all its citrusy, juicy hops, will keep you smiling through all of Peter Pan’s beloved antics and Captain Hook’s mustachioed sneers.

Two Roads Conntucky Lightnin’ Bourbon Ale | Suggested Pairing: Casablanca, 8/22
A film that only gets better with age deserves the same in a beer, and Two Roads’ Conntucky Lightnin’ happens to be the best man for the job. Roasty and sweet, with a medium body and a harmonious mix of vanilla, oak and nutty notes, this barrel aged ale opens up as it warms so one bottle is plenty to last you through the entire show.

Finback Oscillation Series | Suggested Pairing: Back to the Future, 8/24
Fin-Back to the Future with this souped up IPA series soon to be released in handy cans from our Queens-based brothers, Finback. These bad boys are brewed nice and hoppy, do don’t forget an insulated bag or cooler to keep ‘em chilled, since beer of this nature is best served as fresh as possible.

Third Rail Field 2 Farmhouse Ale | Suggested Pairing: The Bad News Bears, 8/25
These baseball-themed tall cans of funky, wheaty Saison are like The Bad News Bears’ themselves — they go down super easy and, at 6.2% ABV, their strength is masked by their bubbly and friendly demeanor. Grab a few and share the love with the whole team.

Sixpoint Jammer | Suggested Pairing: The Blues Brothers, 8/26
No better beer to jam out with at a Blues Brothers screening than the Sixpoint Jammer, a crushable, salty Gose that’s just the tiniest bit tart. Bring along some bourbon and fresh mint if you want to get crazy with a Jammer Julep and you’ll swear you’re on a boozy mission from God.

SingleCut Bon Bon 2x TNT | Suggested Pairing: Die Hard, 8/27
SingleCut’s action packed Imperial IPA will keep you on your toes throughout this death-defying, adrenaline-soaked 1988 shoot-em-up. Mr. McClane would most definitely approve of Bon Bon’s bold tropical notes, grapefruit rind bitterness and slightly resinous finish, and its 8.2% ABV doesn’t hurt, either.

Bronx Brewery Session IPA | Suggested Pairing: Raging Bull, 8/28
Thank the Boogy Down for both this thirst-quenching Session IPA and, of course, this Scorsese masterpiece. The IPA’s low ABV and piney bitterness will propel you through this emotionally rich boxing flick, keeping your brain engaged and your palate happy. Take it from Joey, “If you win, you win. If you lose, you still win.”

KelSo Nut Brown Lager | Suggested Pairing: Goodfellas, 9/1
Rumor has it KelSo’s roasty, light bodied Nut Brown Lager (now in cans) was the catalyst that converted legendary steakhouse Peter Luger’s from Bud to craft, and for good reason–it’s refreshing, satisfying and pairs exceptionally well with rich, salty meats. Settle in for this mobster favorite with a few cans of KelSo and a picnic basket filled with salamis and Italian cheeses for a complete cultural immersion.

Rockaway ESB | Suggested Pairing: The Grand Budapest Hotel, 9/4
Rockaway ESB is the easy drinking, malty brew of choice for any beach outing, including Rockaway’s summer outdoor screening series. Catch Wes Anderson’s latest on the sand while balancing out its quirkiness with a can of this even-keeled, solid ESB and consider your summer complete.

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