Who needs a hydration bladder now that craft beer is in a can?
If you came up in the South, chances are your canned beer of choice was Budweiser. If you were counting calories, make that a Bud Light. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Your choices were limited. That’s no longer the case. Craft brewers across the country are now sticking their best beers in aluminum, which means it’s never been easier to drag a couple of cold ones to the trailhead for post-adventure hydration.
And that canned beer might even taste better. The seal on a can is tighter than a bottle, and no light can penetrate the aluminum. The result is fresh beer longer. Cans also take less packaging and are easier to recycle, so feel free to drink more.
Here are five of the South’s best canned beers. Stay hydrated.
Full Nelson Pale Ale, Blue Mountain Brewery, Afton, Va.
Blue Mountain is a legit destination brewery, with a working hop farm, full restaurant, and gorgeous tap room, but a recent expansion into a full production facility means you’ll be able to find Blue Mountain beers outside of the Charlottesville area. Lucky you. The Full Nelson is the brewery’s flagship beer, a bitter (but in a good way) American-style pale ale that’s sure to please hop-heads. bluemountainbrewery.com
Festie, Starr Hill, Crozet, Va.
Starr Hill was in operation long before the craft beer craze hit the Southern Appalachians. The Festie is a German lager, and Starr Hill’s salute to Oktoberfest (don’t panic, it’s available year-round). Low on the bitter scale and only 4.8 percent alcohol, it’s an ideal post-adventure brew. Starr Hill also cans its popular IPA, Northern Lights. starrhill.com
Shiva IPA, Asheville Brewing Company, Asheville, N.C.
Of all the 700 breweries in Asheville, ABC is the only shop currently sticking their beer into cans. The brewery’s can portfolio continues to grow, but we like Shiva, a citrusy Indian Pale Ale that translates well into a can, with a grapefruit aroma and over-carbonated, light body. ashevillebrewing.com
Old Chub, Okskar Blues Brewing Company, (soon to be) Brevard, N.C.
Oskar Blues started the craft can craze more than 10 years ago with their supremely hoppy Dale’s Pale Ale. For several years, it was the only “decent” beer you could get in the can, earning a soft spot in the hearts of craft can lovers everywhere. Now, OB has canned their Scottish ale, Old Chub, which comes in at a whopping 8 percent alcohol by volume. What’s a Scottish ale? Think malty and semi-sweet. Think good winter drinking. And yes, Oskar Blues is yet another big craft brewery that’s decided to call North Carolina home. They have plans for a massive brewery/restaurant/music venue for downtown Brevard. oskarblues.com
Farmer Ted’s Farmhouse Cream Ale, Catawba Valley Brewing, Morganton, N.C.
Stuck just outside of the Asheville beer bubble in the foothills town of Morganton, Catawba Valley often gets overlooked by beer aficionados because it doesn’t have an Asheville address. Don’t hold that against them. Farmer Ted’s has a hint of sweet corn in the aroma and finish, complemented by a bit of caramel. As the name suggests, the extra carbonation gives the beer a creamy body. catawbavalleybrewing.com
Shift, New Belgium Brewery, (soon to be) Asheville, N.C.
Okay, New Belgium’s not a Southern brewery. But they’re working on that by building an East Coast brewery and taproom in Asheville’s uber-hip River Arts District. In the meantime, try the Shift, a pale lager that’s light on the hops, but provides a clean, crisp finish. It’s a supremely refreshing session beer, perfect for a hot summer day. You can also find New Belgium’s flagship beer, Fat Tire, and Ranger IPA in the can. newbelgium.com
The Corruption, D.C., Brau Brewing Company, Washington, D.C.
Being a brewery tucked into our nation’s capital, all of D.C. Brau’s beers have political names. If the Corruption sounds bitter, that’s because it is. This hoppy IPA registers an 80 on the IBU (International Bitter Units) scale, which means it’s bold and not for the faint of heart, much like the young brewery that produces it. dcbrau.com