Summer is finally (FINALLY) here. Long muggy days have descended upon New York, and while there are some stifling days inside un-air-conditioned apartments, there are also days to be spent on roofs with only the elevated train for a breeze, a can of beer in hand as a summery playlist drifts out of tiny iPhone speakers. These sojourns are hands-down the best thing about living in an apartment with roof access. We do what we can in this city of little nature.
There’s something about canned beer specifically that reminds me of summer: I think it’s probably brought on by memories of the Miller Light that my grandfather used to drink by the case on East Tennessee’s Norris Lake. There are multiple pictures of me by the lake, still a toddler, holding (hopefully empty) beer cans with practiced ease. Beer with the slight aftertaste of aluminum just screams summer for me. When the sun is pelting down and I’m covered in a thin layer of sweat, there’s nothing I want more than a nice cold can of beer.
Since my toddler days, I have stepped beyond the Miller Light realm of beer, and nowadays I prefer something on the more crafty side. Lucky for me, cans are making a comeback in the craft world (arguably, cans are actually a much more efficient and effective container for beer than bottles, but that’s a story for another day), so I have plenty to choose from when it comes to an aluminum-cradled combo of hops, malt, yeast, and water.
My fridge will be stocked with the following beers for rooftop consumption in the upcoming sweltering summer months. You can get more than your average lager in a can these days, and I know both I and my guests can find something to satisfy. Best of all (for me at least, all of these brews are available at beer and grocery stores in the NYC area).
Stillwater Classique (Saison): Classique is probably my all-time favorite beer in a can, if only for the bi-annual festivities that have come to surround it thanks to my Louisville-based beer friends. A saison-esque twist on the classic industrially brewed lager I grew up with (see above), it’s earthy and smooth. If I’m not shotgunning it — which happens more than I care to admit — it’s perfect for sunny roof lounging. And if you’re into Stillwater, which I am, they’ve also just released Yacht in a tallboy can, for a more traditional lager taste in all its 16-ounce glory.
Westbrook Gose (Gose): This is the beer I use to get all my friends who say they don’t like beer to like beer. It’s the beer that brings out the evangelical beer nerd in me, and while it’s not a traditional gose (not nearly subtle enough, too bright in color, etc.), it is exactly what its tagline promises: “Sour. Salty. Delicious.” Even Zelda gets behind this beer. Note: Most of South Carolina’s Westbrook flagship beers come in cans. If the gose is not your thing, I highly recommend the White Thai — a witbier brewed with lemongrass, ginger root, and the traditional coriander and orange peel. Quite refreshing. Want more canned gose goodness? Try Anderson Valley’s The Kimmie, The Yink, and the Holy Gose, in traditional and blood orange varieties.
Oskar Blues Pinner (IPA): The India pale ale style (known by the kids as IPA) was the one that got me into drinking beer in the first place, so I’m always looking for another good one. Marketed as a “throwback IPA,” the Pinner is what we would call a session IPA. At just 4.9% ABV, you can drink it all day and still safely climb back down to your apartment, without sacrificing any of that hop or malt flavor. Check it. Looking for an IPA with a little more of a bitter kick and citrus flavor, or maybe you’re not looking to crush can after can? Try the Cigar City Jai Alai. It packs slightly more of a punch at 7.5 percent, and it has more of that hoppy bitterness many people are looking for in their IPA’s.
Evil Twin Nomader Weisse (Berliner Weisse): I’m a sucker for a sour beer on a hot day. It’s just what I need to quench my thirst after sweating through the three-mile hike home from work. An Evil Twin twist on a Berliner Weisse, the Nomader Weisse meets my sour needs with more subtlety than the Gose. Light and refreshing, it’s perfect for sipping on the roof and watching the sun go down over the Brooklyn skyline as the trains rumble by.