What the Brewers and Bar Owners Are Drinking This Fourth of July

Photo by Jane Bruce
Photo by Jane Bruce

It’s the Fourth of July! A perfect time to, in my case, build a behemoth beerdough-buned Patriot Burger and repeatedly watch It’s A Very Special July 4, Charlie Brown Ale! on VHS alone in my apartment. (If you’re interested in joining, text me. Please.) This isn’t the only way one can celebrate America’s glorious existence, obviously, though any form should definitely include the presence of beer. (If you’re interested in joining me, could you grab some beer for us? Please.) What beer should one consume, though? Since the options are both greater and tougher to navigate than ever, we recruited our favorite local beer-industry peoples to offer their go-to Red, White, and Brews for Independence Day.

Maine Beer, Another One IPA
ABV: 7.0%

The Fourth of July always brings me back to my adolescence when my buddies and I would backyard BBQ-hop in Queens. We always eventually made our way to the docks to watch the fireworks with, of course, 40s in hand. As much as I miss those troublemaking years, I don’t miss those beers. This Fourth I’m planning to leave the stresses of adulthood behind and relax with Maine’s Another One. The refreshing, bright qualities of this IPA are sure to hit the spot while I’m grilling. It has bold hop flavors of Warrior, Citra, Simcoe, and Cascade that will pair beautifully with the sharp cheddar cheese on my bloody burger. Another One nails all my favorite notes of an IPA: tropical hop character with a hint of pine, present malt flavors without being sweet, and a dry finish with a nice bite. At 7 percent ABV I’ll be able to get into just the right amount of trouble. — Kaitlyn Haubrich, co-owner of Third Rail Beer

Stillwater Artisanal Ales, Yacht Session Lager
ABV: 4.2%

Brian Strumke’s arts-influenced gypsy brewery Stillwater has come out with some pretty innovative stuff over the years, from Cellar Door (one of my first American-brewed beer epiphanies) to his myriad critically adored collaborations, but leave it to him to come up with the first session lager to get me excited in a long time. Yacht, encased in a can with a sleek, vaguely nautical design of its namesake, has the perfect amount of hop bitterness to stand out without overpowering your palate, making it at once crushable, refreshing, and complex. A sure winner at the barbecue or rooftop party or wherever you’re going to be to celebrate the USA’s independence, I’ll be bringing a case of Yacht to my friend’s party. I know everyone is going to go nuts (or overboard) for it. — Zach Mack, owner of Alphabet City Beer Co.

Peekskill Brewery, Simple Sour
ABV: 4.5%

Brewed with wheat, corn, and Brettanomyces, Peekskill’s Simple Sour finds the perfect balance between sweet and tart. It’s exactly what I want on a hot day, when I’m out in the sun and have a thirst to quench. Not true to any particular style, Simple takes different ideas and blends them into a perfect beverage. That’s a lot like the paradigm that makes this country great. Perfect for the 4th of July. — Katherine Kyle, general manager of Blind Tiger Ale House

Bayerischer Bahnhof, Berliner Style Weisse
ABV: 3.1%

Being the food and beer junkie that I am, the Fourth of July has always been my favorite day of the year. Who can beat a day of family and friends hanging around in my backyard as we watch over the grill, eating and drinking? While most of them are known to bring over plenty of IPAs, my favorite Fourth beer has always been Bayerischer Bahnhof’s Berliner Style Weisse. Don’t let the 3.1 percent ABV fool you, this German beer is full of character; a beautiful balance of tartness, fruitiness, and sweetness, it’s very refreshing and a good pairing for grilled food. Many local breweries have been successful in interpreting the Berliner Weisse style as of late such as Barrier’s Rubi and Threes’ Internal Contradiction, but Bahnhof remains my go-to for it. — Joe Najem, owner of Hops Hill

Cigar City Brewing, Jai Alai IPA
ABV: 7.5%
One of my favorite beer memories is drinking fresh Jai Alai on the beach in Tampa Bay, Florida, the home state of Cigar City. It’s a perfect warm-weather beer, so I definitely recommend it for the Fourth. The tropical fruit and citrus flavors on top of a soft malt backbone with a crisp, dry finish make for a very refreshing IPA. The key is that it’s not overly bitter, but very smooth and balanced; each sip leaves you wanting more. Pair it with a guacamole-topped cheeseburger and you’re in heaven. — Kyle Kensrue, Certified Cicerone at Randolph Beer

Southampton Publick House, Imperial Russian Stout (2012)
ABV 10.5%

As far back as I can remember, my family has congregated in Southampton on Long Island to celebrate the Fourth of July. I cannot count the amount of times that I was dragged to the Southampton Publick House as a child, though consequently, after reaching the legal drinking age I was introduced to some of my favorite beers at the pub. Thus, for the sake of tradition, I always open a bottle from the brewery every Fourth. This year, I’ll be drinking a vintage bottle (that I cellared) of their Imperial Russian Stout, which was designed by the legendary brewmaster Phil Markowski back in 1996 and receives a special release party every winter. It’s a beast of a beer. It pours black as night and yields a compact tan head; the aroma features robust notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, and earthy hops; the palate is in perfect sync with the aroma; and the mouthfeel is viscous and features soft carbonation. It’s great to share with friends and family while hanging by the fire and watching the fireworks. — Anthony Sorice, bartender at Tørst and assistant brewer at Threes Brewing

Evil Twin Brewing, Bikini Beer
ABV: 2.7%

Evil Twin’s Bikini Beer encapsulates a number of things integral to a summer beer, so I’ll be drinking that on the Fourth of July. It comes in a can so it’s easy to transport. It’s bitter and flavorful and at under 3 percent ABV, I can drink a six pack and not feel exhausted. I can also shotgun a can and fall into the ocean at the same time. And that’s what really matters. — James Case, manager at Covenhoven

Oskar Blues, Pinner Throwback IPA
ABV: 4.9%

I’m not usually an IPA guy, especially hanging outside during a marathon drinking day like the Fourth, but I’m still going to reach for Oskar Blues’ Pinner Throwback IPA. With a sub-5 percent ABV and pretty low on the IBUs, this beer is something I can crush without having to pass out from during the 7th-inning stretch. A lot of flavor for such a light IPA, this beer is also versatile with anything you throw on the grill for the summer. — Bill Brooks, beverage director of The Cannibal

Grimm Artisanal Ales, Super Going
ABV: 4.8%

It’s only fitting to celebrate the Fourth of July with a beverage that encapsulates the spirit of the holiday: Super Going, one of the most recent releases from Brooklyn-based gypsies Grimm Artisanal Ales. Joe and Lauren Grimm, operating independently of one single brewing facility, have deftly crafted one of the most refreshing beers of this summer. Brimming with notes of bright citrus—owed to the perfect union of orange zest and Mandarina Bavaria and Huell Melon hops—and neatly capped off with a zesty, tart finish, this dry-hopped gose lights up the palate like fireworks across the backdrop of a cloudless summer night. — Brian Winget, beer manager of Barcade (Chelsea)

KelSo Beer, Industrial IPA
ABV: 6.0%

Our flagship IPA was created to be hoppy yet crisp, bold yet sessionable, the perfect companion to warm Northeast summertime evenings. So it makes perfect sense that we’ll have a keg of it on tap at our house for the Fourth of July. (It’s also because I get a sweet employee discount.) A fresh, bright, tropical IPA with notes of gooseberry and passion fruit, the beer is a blend of German and British malts, native Pacific NW hops, and some hops from New Zealand. What better beer to celebrate the melting pot we know as the USA? — Kelly Taylor, co-owner and brewmaster of KelSo Beer

Newburgh Brewing, ICA India Cream Ale
ABV: 6.3%

At some point in the past, choosing a Fourth of July beer to drink would have been easy. The adjunct lager is a longtime American style and also one of the biggest and most important styles in the world. But now that Budweiser is a Belgian company and Miller and Coors are partnered up with the Canadians, it’s a harder choice. I might have chosen one of the American craft-beer classics from Anchor Brewing–Liberty Ale or Steam Beer–but an Englishman now owns the brewery and that makes me want to chuck my bottle of Liberty Ale into the Boston Harbor.

For America’s birthday I want a unique American style and I want it to refresh me on that hot summer day. Some of the best choices are the cream ale, the American IPA, or one that combines both of those styles. That brings me to my choice for this Fourth: Newburgh ICA, a hybrid beer combining the best characteristics of the cream ale and the American IPA. It’s everything you’d expect from the former: the lighter body, usually from adjuncts like rice or corn, and the cleaner finish from lagering even though it’s fermented with an ale yeast; and with the addition of Cascade, Apollo, Brewer’s Gold, and Sorachi Ace hops, it packs a lemon and pine hit like you wouldn’t believe. It’s a perfect companion for manning the barbecue, laying beside the pool, watching baseball, or watching fireworks. — Steven Baird, partner of/manager at The Owl Farm

Firestone Walker, Pivo Pils

ABV: 5.3%

I’ll be crushing cans of Firestone Walker’s Pivo Pils this Fourth of July Weekend. Pivo has been my summer jam this year; I just can’t seem to get enough of this pilsner’s aromatic and almost oily noble hops, subtle malt, and dry clean finish. Although it has been somewhat harder to find as the summer has gone on, luckily I’ve stockpiled a personal stash. — Greg Doroski, head brewer of Threes Brewing

Bitter & Esters, Grapefruit Saison; Founders Brewing, All Day IPA
ABV: 4.7%; 5.2%

I’ll be going to a party with a Braüler full of my homebrewed Grapefruit Saison, which is one of over 75 recipes available at Bitter & Esters to use and make yourself. It’s a low-alcohol, easy-drinking French saison style that’s tart and crisp from both the saison yeast and the addition of grapefruit peel; very refreshing and perfect with food. As far as commercial beers are concerned, I’ll be bringing bottles of Founders’ session IPA, All Day. Flavorful, easy to drink with delightful citrus and floral aromas, and a low alcohol percent so I can drink more, it’s perfect for a hot day of celebration. And if—ahem, when—I run out, just about every bodega carries it.— John LaPolla, co-owner of Bitter & Esters

Other Half Brewing, Hop Showers
ABV: 7.4%

On a hot summer day, I am a sucker for two things: a juicy IPA and beer in a can. With this in mind, the universe has tilted circumstances to be in my favor and bestowed upon me a gift that combines both, as Other Half timed the latest release of Hop Showers cans to hit the weekend before the Fourth of July. Needless to say, I’m fully stocked up and ready to experience this IPA’s tropical and citrus fruit notes, which hit a perfect balance with it’s peppery, bitter finish. It’s a great compliment to whatever you’re throwing on the grill, and canned beer is the way to go if you’re pre-gaming the fireworks with a trip to the beach. — Jen Maslanka, general manager of Spring Lounge

Threes Brewing, Wandering Bine
ABV: 5.3%

Born and raised in New York City, July Fourth is a great opportunity to be a true patriot and drink something fabulous being made in my own backyard. Brooklyn has been that backyard for the last decade so I’m looking no further than Threes in Gowanus, a brewery that’s killing it with their saisons—and Wandering Bine is no exception. The complexity of flavors in this brew, which range from melon, grain, spiced yeast, and funky hay, is truly impressive. A beer to be drank all day long and with an array of foods. — Alicia Mekelburg, co-owner of Mekelburg’s

Westbrook Brewing, Gose
ABV: 4.0%

America: Noble. Strong. Well versed in acclimating idiosyncratic and antiquated cultural relics such as the central German beer style gose (pronounced GO-suh) to suit our own greedy needs. Westbrook’s example is the quintessential Americanized gose; it’s super bright, citrusy, and infinitely quenching. The subtle salinity and ever-present acid symbiotically lower our core temperature and keep us reaching for more. As my menus warn: drink now, cry later! — Cory Bonfiglio, general manager of Beer Street and Proletariat

Avery Brewing, Liliko’i Kepolo Witbier
ABV: 5.6%

My choice this Fourth of July is brewed with Rocky Mountain water and comes in a can. But it has a Hawaiian name and you’ll have to touch it to see if the liquid is cold. Avery’s Liliko’i Kepolo is a Belgian-style witbier with added passionfruit that livens up the typically sweet-citrusy wheat profile with some juicy tartness and a robust sweet-sour aroma. Like a tropical barley-wheat cocktail, this drink was made for the sun. Avery just ramped up their production space in Boulder, Colorado and we’re reaping the rewards this summer season with a beer that finally made it out of their tasting room and into coolers at better beer stores around the city. Plus the name translates to “passionfruit demon,” and I figure I’d want that on my side in a war for independence. — Brendan Woodcock, Certified Cicerone

Victory Brewing, Prima Pils
ABV: 5.3%

What goes better with burgers and hot dogs than a sweet-ass German pilsner? Growing up right outside Philadelphia, Victory Brewing was right in my backyard and luckily enough for me they make one of the best pilsners in the world. Whole-flower hops gives this lager a really nice hoppy bite and then the German malts enables this beer to finish a little sweet and dry. At 5.3 percent ABV, you can crush this beer all day without being that drunk guy disrupting others trying to watch the fireworks. Prima will not only be my go-to on the Fourth but most likely will make my “stuck on a desert island” list, if that ever happens. You never know.— Gerard Leary, owner of One Mile House

Lagunitas Brewing, DayTime IPA
ABV: 4.65%

For big celebrations, particularly ones that start in the afternoon like the Fourth of July, it’s a smart idea to pick a beer on the low side of the ABV scale. But that shouldn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. To me bright, juicy, hoppy beers are some of the most refreshing and Lagunitas’ DayTime IPA is one of my favorites. The brewery’s dank “Fractional IPA” is always a crowd-pleaser and the chances are pretty good that you’ll be able to find it in your local bodega; so if you need to run out for more on the holiday you won’t feel like you’re being sent on an impossible quest to find a rare six-pack. — Anne Becerra, Certified Cicerone at Blind Tiger Ale House and Taproom No. 307 and writer at Serious Eats

Carton Brewing, Boat Beer
ABV: 4.2%

July means a lot in my world, as that’s when July Good Beer Month, now in its seventh year, happens. But it also means that Independence Day is here, and my go-to beer for the holiday has also been my go-to summer beer for several years: Carton’s Boat Beer! Kolsch yeasts, German malts, and lots of hops. I call it a hoppy kolsch but the brewery doesn’t want the beer to be defined by style.‎ I don’t blame them. Many have tried to copy it, especially with all the session IPAs in the market now, but few can match its quality. Get ready for the fireworks. — Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43 and founder of the Good Beer Seal

Port Jeff Brewing, Beach Beer
ABV: 4.8%

This Fourth of July I’ll be celebrating with a great local beer that I was recently turned on to: Port Jeff’s Beach Beer. It’s a traditional-style witbier and a perfect seasonal for summer drinking with a low ABV of 4.8 percent. And it’s now available in 12-ounce cans, meaning it’s great for boats, parks, beaches, basketball courts, and anywhere else that glass containers are frowned upon. The fact that it’s locally brewed right on Long Island simply adds to its sex appeal. This hits the trifecta of Independence Day beer-drinking wants: local, seasonal, and low alcohol. Not to be missed. — Dan McLaughlin, co-owner of The Pony Bar and Kiabacca


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