When George Washington invented beer in 1776, little did he know that he was kickstarting a tradition that would come to define the very nation he helped found. As he took his first swig of that frosty, frothy beverage, he gazed out upon the purple mountain majesties and fruited plain, remarking, “This tastes like America.”
Fast forward to 2016, where every man, woman, and child (okay, not child) is entitled to crack open an ice-cold cruiser and knock it back with liberty in their hearts. With that in mind, Anheuser-Busch InBev has filed for approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to change the name of its Budweiser beer to “America.”
And sure, if you’re wearing American flag Chubbies, an ironic “Bush/Reagan ’84” tank, and a date function snapback, you’re probably sipping (read: shotgunning) Bud Heavy suds like it’s your patriotic duty. There’s only one problem: Budweiser isn’t really that American. InBev, a Belgian/Brazilian multinational, has owned Anheuser-Busch since 2008, effectively making Budweiser as American as pommes frites and feijão com farofa de banana.
So although Budweiser might try to lay claim to the Stars and Stripes to market its fizzy swill, here are 11 beers from American brewers that would make the Founders vastly more proud.
1. ‘Merica by Prairie Artisan Ales (Tulsa, OK)
This brew from Oklahoma is a juicy, single malt, single hop American farmhouse ale. Farmhouse ales, which are similar to saisons, are fundamentally Belgian, so kudos to Prairie Artisan Ales pulling an InBev and slapping “American” on there. This crisp, refreshing ale pairs nicely with a summer salad or some fresh-caught shellfish. If you’re not shouting “‘Merica” after a sip of this bad boy, do you really love freedom?
2. Brew Free! Or Die IPA by 21st Amendment Brewery (San Francisco, CA)
The 21st Amendment was ratified on December 5, 1933, repealing Prohibition and dispatching the party poopers and fun police who had enforced the law for 13 years. This venerated golden IPA is hoppy, but balanced by a solid malt backbone. It also features Mount Rushmore on the can, easily the most American rock formation in South Dakota, if not the country at large.
3. Freedom Isn’t Free by Heritage Brewing Co. (Manassas, VA)
Heritage is a veteran owned and operated microbrewery with other distinctly American beer offerings ranging from Revolution to The Teddy, an East Coast pale ale with Teddy Roosevelt fighting a bear on the can. They use 100% American sourced ingredients and Organic base malts, and donate 1% of the proceeds of every pint to charity. If that’s not American, I don’t know what is.
4. Commodore Perry IPA by Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland, OH)
While Friends fans know Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing IRL, history buffs know Matthew Perry as the “Hero of Lake Erie” who defeated His Majesty’s Royal Navy in the War of 1812. This British-style IPA is a not-so-subtle “plunder of war.” Great Lakes encourages pairing this bold, hoppy IPA with carrots or glorious sideburns (or both).
5. Liberty Ale by Anchor Brewing Company (San Francisco, CA)
Liberty Ale was first brewed in 1975 to celebrate the bicentennial of Paul Revere’s historic ride. It’s also the first modern American IPA brewed after Prohibition and the first modern American single-hop ale and dry-hopped ale, so it’s kind of a big deal. This beer is perfect to sip on while you’re grilling some corn on the cob and juicy burgers.
6. Samuel Adams Boston Lager by Boston Beer Company (Boston, MA)
If you like craft beer, you should thank Jim Koch, who founded Boston Beer Company in 1984 with its initial beer, Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Before Koch, the American beer market was dominated by large corporations who all made yellow, fizzy, mostly-flavorless beer. It’s fair to say that the craft beer scene wouldn’t be what it is today without Koch’s innovations.
7. Double Barrel Jesus by Evil Twin Brewing (Brooklyn, NY)
“Double barrel” and “Jesus” are right behind “Big Mac” on the list of most American words. And although Evil Twin originated in Denmark, its “gypsy brewery” status means it makes beer in breweries around the world. And what’s more American than outsourcing?
8. Homefront IPA by Hops for Heroes (America)
In 2011, a group of craft brewers, including Left Hand, Cigar City, Fremont Brewing, Center of the Universe, Perennial Artisan Ales, Stone, 21st Amendment, Revolution Brewing, Maui Brewing, and Palmetto came together for Hops for Heroes, which benefits charities that focus on military veterans. Their collaboration, Homefront IPA, is aged on Louisville Slugger maple bats. Yeah, it’s that American.
9. Golden Spike Hefeweizen by Uinta Brewing (Salt Lake City, UT)
America owes a great deal of its legacy to the Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the east and west and revolutionized transportation and commerce. Uinta’s Golden Spike Hefeweizen commemorates May 10, 1869, when the ceremonial last spike was driven in at Promontory Summit. This medium-bodied ale pairs nicely with citrus flavors or mussels.
10. Hayseed by Smuttynose Brewing Company (Hampton, NH)
Hayseed is a country table beer that’s like “liquid sunshine.” This summer seasonal was practically created for sipping on your front porch when it’s super hot and your only plans for the day include drinking beer and rocking in your rocking chair. Plus, it’s pretty light, which means you can do what Americans do best: overdo it.
11. American Beauty by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, DE)
Okay, so American Beauty is named neither for The Land of The Free nor Academy Award-winning film starring Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening. It was named for hippie demigods The Grateful Dead. But this Imperial Pale Ale is too delicious to leave off this roundup.