The Beer Cooler

Now that it's summertime we're all going to cookouts, barbecues, pool parties and block parties. Typically at these things you're lucky to get even a Miller Lite, let alone something that actually tastes great. You're also hamstrung by the fact that you're going to be drinking from the bottle or can. I rarely, as in never, drink from the bottle and I've realized over the past couple of days exactly why that is. The beer doesn't quite taste the same way when drank from the bottle (this will be the subject of an upcoming KC Star article so I'll leave it for then). So the question becomes what do you stock up a beer cooler with if you're going to host a party or a bunch of houseguests.

Now over the past couple of days I've been drinking from a beer cooler with selections of Boulevard Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Summer Lager, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Schlafly No. 15, New Belgium Fat Tire and Skinny Dip. I know, woe is me. But, I've really only enjoyed drinking the 2 pale ales, the rest don't quite have the flavor straight from the bottle that I'm used to.

So in the interests of treating your guests to good craft brew balanced by the need to have cold beer available in bottles to cool them down, I thought a list of summer cooler beers should be in order. Keep in mind this is not a list of the best summer beers and it's not a list of great beers. It IS a list of beers that taste good cold, straight from the bottle, reasonable cheap and are accessible to all beer drinkers.
  • Boulevard Pale Ale - We're in KC, you must have a flagship KC beer. Boulevard Wheat is best in a glass and a lot of people might want a lemon. You don't want to deal with all of that trouble. Pale Ale tastes great from the bottle and is available in 12 packs for as cheap as any craft beer.
  • Shiner Bock - It's a popular beer and it tastes good from the bottle. It's a nice choice because it's accessible to the beer novice and tastes nice on a hot day.
  • Leinenkugels Summer Shandy - I went to a lake party last year that only had Busch Light and Miller Lite available. When I saw a couple of people drinking the Summer Shandy I had to ask where they got them (they had brought their own). I craved that beer and it's quite nice to drink on a hot day.
  • Sam Adams Summer Ale - This is one of my favorite summer seasonal beers and it tastes great from the bottle. Again, beer novices know the name Sam Adams, so it's quite accessible and it is quite refreshing.
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale - To this day, it's one of my favorite beers. It is better in a glass, but it tastes just great from the bottle as well. If you can convert one novice into a Sierra Nevada drinker, you will have done your job as a host.
  • Big Sky Moose Drool - Brown ales aren't typically thought of as a great warm weather beer, but if you're serving burgers or bbq, it's the perfect style to pair with your food. Moose Drool just happens to taste great from the bottle and seems exotic to the novice. Inexperienced craft beer drinkers will talk about it to all their friends for months. Moose Drool is or should be soon available in cans which makes it even better for the backyard, but if you can only find bottles it's still great.
You can fill up a couple of coolers with these beers for around $60 (12 packs of the Sierra Nevada, Boulevard and Shiner, sixers of the other 3 equalling 54 beers, good for 12-18 people depending on the drinkiness of the crowd). You will also have coolers full of refreshing, good tasting brews that can please a diverse crowd. If you have a couple of hardcore beer drinkers you can use your savings to fill up another cooler full of IPA's and some other challenging beers if you so wish. Just keep in mind what the beer tastes like coming from the bottle.

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