It may still be jacket weather in the shade for all but the most hearty Bushwickians, but the sun was out in full force for most of the weekend. Although some of us may have only made it out of bed early enough to catch the last of the rays, to me the only acceptable way to celebrate all this lovely spring sun is by picnicking everywhere as much as possible. And while Bushwick Daily would NEVER condone drinking discreetly from Solo cups on your sidewalk while grilling, or stashing a few brews in your backpack next time you spread a blanket in Maria Hernandez, we will say get on a roof or a friend’s roof or a stranger’s roof even and let the boozy picnicking begin! Here are 3 great brews to accompany you–all sessionable (under 5% alcohol) so you can make an afternoon of things without getting too weird.
#1 Anchor Brewing’s California Lager
For those of you whose first instinct is to reach for Bud when you go for a six-pack: next time stop short, change direction, and set your eyes on the distinctive red cans of Anchor Brewing’s California Lager. Anchor is best known for their eponymous brew the Anchor Steam, but lately they’ve shared more and more of their solid and diverse brews with the East Coast. The California Lager is for those of you looking for a light, refreshing brew, with more character than than many of the standard American lagers. It’s a bit herbal from the hops and grainy from the malts if you give it a good whiff, and goes down bready with light but flavorful hops in the background lending hints of lemon and grass to the situation. And at 4.9% ABV (alcohol by volume), you can knock a few back while you nom away.
#2 Dogfish Head’s Namaste
If your standard summer brew is a Shocktop or Blue Moon, push yourself for your picnic and grab a sixer of Dogfish Head’s Namaste, self described as ” a wietbier bursting with karma.” Wietbier just means a Belgian-style wheat ale, and like Blue Moon, Namaste has some spicy, dry wheat notes complimented by oranges, which makes it an ideal summer sipper. Unlike Blue Moon, the brew gurus at Dogfish Head have added coriander and white pepper to the mix, to give things an additional spicy kick, both up-front on the aroma and in the flavor as well. It’s well-balanced, with grassy, lemongrass hops, biscuity malts, and a little funk from the Belgian yeast, and at 4.8% it will keep your mouth in a blissfully zen state all afternoon.
#3 21st Amendment’s Bitter American
If you’re a true hop-fiend like me, you may have trouble finding sessionable brews that still deliver a seriously hoppy kick. Common brewers logic is that when you increase hop content you must proportionally increase malt and alcohol content to keeps things balanced, but recently some clutch craft breweries have set on missions to make heavy hops sessionable and 21st Amendment’s Bitter American is one of the finest examples. The aroma is citrusy and piney from the hops and caramely from the malts, and all these carry over to the flavor. The hops dominate things and give this a dry and refreshing bite. At 4.4% Bitter American is all I could want in a picnic pale ale.
No picnic, however gloriously boozy, is ever complete without some stand-out grub. My go-to this summer has been to grab an assortment of bread, meat, and cheese from our local gem Hops and Hocks for a solid graze-fest. If you’re feeling serious about pairing your cheese to your beer, check out Bedford Cheese Shop’s Cheese and Beer Classes. A good munchy spread and easy-drinking session beer can have you set to spend your summer days getting some serious R&R and vitamin D. After all, isn’t that what the season’s all about?
Bushwick Brews is a weekly column dedicated to the exploration of Bushwick’s finest beers and New York beer culture written and curated by brewista Erin Wicks.