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Four beers for the 4th of July

Posted by Gary Dzen, Staff  July 3, 2012 08:00 AM

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Yesterday I wrote about a very hoppy IPA. It's a great beer, but the timing was a little off to be drinking super-bitter beer with a high alcohol content. You've probably got barbeques or outdoor parties to go to this week, starting Wednesday, and you'll need some refreshing beer to take with you.

I'm giving you four pretty distinct styles, and with the exception of the Slumbrew offering, these beers should be widely available in New England (you can find the Slumbrew beer in many Massachusetts liquor stores, maybe not farther afield).

Here are four beers that would be perfect for any Fourth of July party:

Harpoon Summer: This is my go-to beer for outdoor parties during the summer. Note the can, which to me is a big deal. It's lighter and more portable; you can carry a twelve-pack without dropping your potato salad all over someone's driveway.

The beer itself is Kolsch style beer. It's an ale, but it has the characteristics of the lagers that make for such light drinking in warmer months. It pours nice and golden, much like the color of the can. The taste is clean with hints of lemon, but the citrus doesn't overpower. This is the one to bring to please a crowd of beer-drinkers and non beer-drinkers alike. A six pack retails for around $10. 5.5 percent alcohol.

Notch Session Ale: I've been asked by a few readers to define some beer terms as I go along. A "session" beer doesn't have a lock-tight definition, but it's generally a beer with a lower alcohol content that you could drink more than one or two of in one given "session". Perfect for the Fourth, right? At 4.5-percent alcohol, Notch Session Ale fits the bill, but it's got way (waaaay?) more taste than a Bud Light, which is of comparable alcohol content. If you're a serious beer drinker or even someone just getting into craft, this is your summer beer.

Three American hop varieties are used in this beer, and you can taste them. The beer finishes dryer than some other low-alcohol beers you might be used to, but that's a good thing. This beer, by the way, is brewed in Ipswich. A six pack costs about $10.

Slumbrew Happy Sol: Available in shareable 22-ounce bottles, this beer is the definition of summer drinking. A German style Hefeweizen (wheat beer), you can compare it to a Blue Moon or an Allagash White (one of these things is not like the other).

The Somerville brewery says this beer is made from the juice of 1,000 blood oranges. That sounds like a lot, but the orange flavor isn't overpowering. You get a nice, semi-sweet, semi-tart flavor from this beer. You can taste the wheat, but what sticks with you is the orange. If you've got a friend who doesn't like beer, bring this to the party and try to change his/her mind. A bottle retails for about $7. 5.5 percent alcohol.

Sixpoint The Crisp: The fourth of four American beers showcased here, Sixpoint's take on a lager will satisfy the beer novice and beer geek alike. This is a pale lager, more commonly known as a pilsner. It pours bright and golden, like a pilsner should.

This beer has more bready sweetness than the three above. That may not please the hop-heads, but it's more approachable than the Notch Session Ale (For the record, I prefer the Notch). Noble hops prevent this beer from being too sweet. The can format again means it's portable, which can't be understated on a holiday weekend. A pack of four tallboys costs about $10.5.4 percent alcohol.

Any other beers you're drinking this week? What's your favorite summer-party brew?

E-mail me ( and start a conversation. Follow me on Twitter. Cheers.

Gary Dzen

About 99 Bottles

Gary Dzen writes about craft beer here and in the Globe when he's not covering the Celtics for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.

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