I’m sure many of you will be participating in some sort of drinking activities this weekend and at some point, the beer run will be made. Here I will provide you with a list of 5 staple beers, taking into consideration their availability, taste as well as cost. These are brews that you can find at almost any grocery/liquor store, and even some chain stores like Target, CVS, Rite Aid and Walmart. Keep in mind that I live in California so the beers listed are all California-centric, however, I’m sure that some of these are fairly accessible out of state as well.
Lagunitas- Lagunitas IPA
Beer Style: IPA ABV: 6.2% Served: Bottle
First on the list is my personal go-to beer. Lagunitas IPA has quickly become one of the most widely available and reliable craft brews in all of California. I am able to find it at almost every store and most bars both in an outside of the SF Bay Area (which Lagunitas calls home). With a rich, golden/copper color and a smooth finish at 6.2% ABV, Lagunitas IPA is both the beer that can get you in the party mood as well as the beer you come home to unwind with after a long day. The caramel malt barley helps to smooth out the hoppyness a bit, but without becoming too overpowering. I hate to borrow a term from Budweiser, but the drinkability of this IPA is incredible. Another plus is that this brew is usually priced pretty fairly and sometimes even at a steal of a price for a 12 pack, ranging between $11.99-13.99 on sale days!
Bear Republic Racer 5
Beer Style: IPA ABV : 7.5% Served: Bottle
Racer 5 is arguably just as popular as Lagunitas IPA, but it also packs a noticeably bigger punch. At 7.5% ABV, this brew is not one you want to stick with all night if you plan on driving anytime soon. However, if you plan on being in the same place for a while and/or have a safe ride, this is one brew you do not want to pass up. It is certainly not lacking in the hops department, as it contains Chinook, Cascade, Columbus and Centennial hops. Despite this powerful hoppy flavor, Racer 5 retains a very distinct crispness about it that is almost hypnotizing; before you know it, you’re due for a refill. Adding to the crispy, hoppy flavor is a refreshing hint of citrus that truly seals the deal. Bear Republic hit the nail on the head when they created the Racer 5 IPA. This particular brew will run you a bit more than the Lagunitas IPA, usually around $16.99 for a 12 pack but trust me, it’s worth it!
Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Beer Style: Extra IPA ABV: 7.2% Served: Bottle
Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo is a very well-balanced IPA in that the distinct flavor notes (citrus, pine, floral, hops and even a malty sweetness) are all very complimentary to one another. The coolest part of Torpedo is how it’s made; Sierra Nevada brewers used a dry-hopping when creating this brew. The signature feature of the dry-hopping process is to create a distinct aroma of hops without adding more hops to the flavor of the beer. Similar to Racer 5, Torpedo is a fairly strong brew, and one I definitely suggest when tailgating (avoid those $14 watered-down stadium beers)! As far as price point, a 12 pack is usually a bargain at about $13.99, which may play a deciding factor when trying to decide between beers.
Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
Beer Style: Pale Wheat Ale ABV: 7.5% Served: Bottle
Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ has worked it’s way into my heart and may very well my favorite brew. Lagunitas describes it as “Way smooth and silky with a nice wheaty-esque-ish-ness. Just the little sumpin’ sumpin’ we all need to kick Summer into full swing!” and honestly, that about sums it up- thought I’d drink this year-round rather than exclusively in the summer. What you taste is a little sumpin’ bitter, a little sumpin’ creamy and a little sumpin’ citrus. What makes this beer so great is that it is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser; it contains plenty of hops for hop-heads as well as the wheaty smoothness of a wheat ale. Sadly, this brew is only available in store as a 6 pack, and will usually cost $9.99-11.99, although this is probably a smart decision on behalf of Lagunitas. Unleashing more than 6 of these brews at once may prove to be dangerous!
Beer Style: Hefeweizen ABV: 5.2% Served: Bottle
For me, Pyramid Hefe is the perfect rendition of the classic characteristics of a hefeweizen: creamy, fruity, smooth and light. This is a perfect beer to drink in warmer weather as it is very refreshing (especially when garnished with a signature lemon wedge). As an un-filtered wheat beer, Pyramid’s hefe sets the bar pretty high for all others that I’ve tried (the exception being Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweiss, though it’s only available seasonally). Pyramid Hefeweizen comes in both 6 packs as well as 12 packs, and are usually under $14.99 for the 12 and $7.99 for the 6.
There you have it, my friends. Use this guide well and use it often! Have a most excellent weekend!