The longest day of the year is just around the corner and with it officially comes summer. No other beverage goes with summer better than beer. Whether it’s at the ballpark, golf course, on the river, or out on the trails, nothing hits the spot better than an ice-cold beer. Not all beers are created for all outdoor activities, and some just are not as thirst quenching as others. So what kind of beer should you be grabbing for what activities and how are you transporting said beers? What are some summer surprises? And what should you absolutely avoid?
During the summer, it’s a good general rule to have at least a small stock of heat-busting, thirst-quenching cold beer always on hand. You never know when you’ll have one of the boys drop by just to crack some cold ones, and what a shame it would be if you didn’t have any cold ones to crack. The best local cold one is Mexican Logger, of course. Lime or no lime, Mexi is definitely the best thirst-quenching lager around. Second to that, I’m partial to Miller High Life (only in a bottle) and Tecate (only in a can). Even a sixer of cold ones stored in the back of the fridge will certainly do in an emergency.
Different outdoor summer activities have different beer drinking conditions and requirements. For camping, I’m partial to a hearty mix of different beers and alcohols for a diversity of crowds, times of day, and foods you’ll be eating. Breaking down your beer supply by percentages is the best way to go:
50 percent drinking beer. Yellow, cold, cheap beer. It’s hot during the day, and you need to stay hydrated. Mexican Logger, Miller High Life, Mama’s Yella Pils, Tecate, etc.
25 percent nice beer/wine with food. Big ipas, stouts, sours, Champagne, etc. Something to go with your food or dessert. Decadent Double IPA goes really well with grilled brats and Left Hand Milk Stout goes great with s’mores. Champagne is just good all the time, but is an excellent breakfast beverage.
25 percent hard liquor (mixers optional). Passing a bottle of bourbon around a campfire is a beautiful thing.
For beer when being on the river, I have three rules:
It must be hoppy.
It must be in 12 oz. cans.
You have to have two drag bags.
The beer must be hoppy because it’s the best way to tell if your beer gets any river water in it. It must be in 12 oz. cans because cans are better on the river, and 12 oz. because you can slam a 12 oz. in a few seconds if you need to. You need two drag bags because one can hold your full beer, keeping it in the water keeps it cold; the second is for your empties. I’m a huge fan of Rudy Session IPA and Dale’s Pale Ale. Both have the hops to keep your taste buds aware of river water and they both go down pretty damn easy during the summer. If you’re a quick drinker, Dale’s also comes in tall boys.
I think it’s hard to go wrong drinking any beer outside with friends. Whether you’re at a festival, camping, a patio, or your own front porch, if you got some cold ones and some good people and you’re outside in Colorado, it’s going to be alright. The best pairing isn’t the quality of the food or the beer, it’s the quality of conversation and the people around you.
Robert Alan Wendeborn is a former cellar operator at Ska Brewing and current lead cellar operator at Tin Roof Brewing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.