Boat Beers for Summer 2016

DWITT Boat beer

The Growler is toasting four years in print with our Lakes and Streams issue this June. To celebrate, we joined The Current in studio to chat about a few of our favorite Minnesota boat beers this summer season.

We’ve covered the subject of boat beers in the past, but a topic as important as this deserves revisiting. There are a few guiding principles by which we define a worthy boat beer:

  1. Lower alcohol content — Boat beers should be sessionable. You never know how long it might take to catch a muskie—or a killer tan. Endurance is key to a quality boat-beer experience.
  2. Easy drinking — An ideal boat beer is one that can be consumed in quantity, without too much impact on your shore lunch interest index.
  3. Format — Several great beers fall short of the boat beer designation simply by only being available in glass. A true Minnesota boat beer comes in a non-breakable, BWCA-friendly format.

A few of our favorite boat beers for 2016, in no particular order, are:

Summit Hopvale Organic Ale – 4.7% ABV

Photo via facebook.com/summitbrewingcompany/

Photo via facebook.com/summitbrewingcompany/

Summit Brewing Company started canning their beers last year and this sessionable organic ale seems like it was designed specifically for their new tallboy format. Weighing in at an approachable 4.7% abv, this beer presents a subtle hop character that plays nicely with layers of refreshing citrus.

NorthGate Get-Together Session IPA – 4.4% ABV

Photo via NorthGate Brewing

Photo via NorthGate Brewing

An exceptionally well balanced beer, NorthGate Brewing Company’s Get Together Session IPA is a standout in the summer pounder category this year. American 2-Row and English Light Crystal malt help carry a refreshing hop profile

Indeed Shenanigans – 5.0% ABV

Photo via facebook.com/IndeedBrewing/

Photo via facebook.com/IndeedBrewing/

Only a few years old, but already a classic. Indeed’s Shenanigans Summer Ale is already an annual celebration of the season. Bright, dry, with flirtatious notes of honey and lemon—Shenanigans is a staple in our summer cooler.

Fitger’s Brewhouse Apricot Wheat – 5.0% ABV

Photo via facebook.com/FitgersBrewhouse/

Photo via facebook.com/FitgersBrewhouse/

The first brewery I ever visited in Minnesota with a specific vessel intended for Boundary Waters camping was Duluth’s Fitger’s Brewhouse. I couldn’t possibly count how many times I filled up my first Fitger’s Nalgene growler with Apricot Wheat before the brewhouse abandoned the old container. Now available in fancy (but still BWCA-friendly) insulated stainless steel growlers, Fitger’s Apricot Wheat is simply one of the best boat beers Minnesota has to offer.

Bent Paddle Cold Press Black – 6.0% ABV

Photo via facebook.com/bentpaddlebrewing/

Photo via facebook.com/bentpaddlebrewing/

We’re bending the boat beers guidelines a bit for this one, but Bent Paddle’s Cold Press Black Ale is a beer that breaks the rules. One of my very favorite beers being produced in the state today, this robust, but balanced black ale and it’s cold press kick is the perfect beer for pre-boat breakfast or an afternoon boost.

Badger Hill High Road – 5.0% ABV

Badger Hill High Road Everyday Ale // Photo via facebook.com/BadgerHillBrewing

Photo via facebook.com/BadgerHillBrewing

There’s a reason Badger Hill calls it an “Everyday Ale.” High Road is an eminently drinkable blonde ale that adapts to any kind of situation—or in our case type of boat. And with Badger Hill’s canning line humming along at their Shakopee brewery, 12-ounce cans of High Road are widely available for the summer season.

Lift Bridge Getaway Pilsner – 5.25% ABV

Lift Bridge Getaway Pilsner

Photo via Lift Bridge Brewing

Hailing from the river town of Stillwater, the Lift Bridge crew knows that on hot days out on the water you might crave something with a little more of a refreshing bite. That’s where Getaway Pilsner comes in handy. This German-style pilsner contains a good dose noble Saaz hops that create a crisp, clean flavor that tastes as nostalgic as the artwork looks on the cans.

Castle Danger Summer Crush – 4.7% ABV

Castle Danger Summer Crush

Photo via Castle Danger Brewery

When we interviewed Clint MacFarlane of Castle Danger Brewing in Two Harbors, Minnesota, for the Brewer Profile this past December, he had us dreaming of summer with talk of their new summer seasonal, Summer Crush. As Clint put it—think shandy without the lemonade. Instead this summer ale utilizes Sorachi Ace hops to give it a strong lemon aroma and flavor, and at just 4.7% it’s certainly crushable.

Surly Xtra-Citra Pale Ale – 4.5% ABV

Surly Xtra-Citra Pale Ale

Photo via facebook.com/surlybrewing

Surly released Xtra-Citra back in spring, but this beer was meant for summer. The Citra hops create huge aromas of tropical fruits and citrus on the nose while not blowing out the palate, allowing you to sip this one all afternoon. Plus, you can use the tall 16-ounce cans to soothe your bare back after you sit against that vinyl bench seat on the pontoon that’s been baking in the sun all day—ouch!

Looking for more boat beers?

Of course you are. Here are some other tasty examples from around the country (in no particular order).

MKE Outboard Cream Ale – 5.0% ABV

Photo via facebook.com/milwaukeebrewing

Photo via facebook.com/milwaukeebrewing

Bell’s Oarsman – 4.0% ABV

Bell's Oarsman // Photo via facebook.com/BellsBreweryInc

Photo via facebook.com/BellsBreweryInc

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon – 4.9% ABV

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon

Photo via facebook.com/21stAmendment

Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA – 4.9% ABV

Photo via facebook.com/OskarBluesCANS

Photo via facebook.com/OskarBluesCANS

New Belgium Slow Ride Session IPA – 4.5% ABV

New Belgium Slow Ride // Photo via facebook.com/newbelgium

Photo via facebook.com/newbelgium

Odell Loose Leaf Session Ale – 4.5% ABV

Loose Leaf in Cans // Photo via facebook.com/OdellBrewingCo

Photo via facebook.com/OdellBrewingCo

 

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