The Fourth of July is a day to remember that our forefathers fought to give future generations their independence. And while we celebrate their forging a revolutionary new democracy, let’s not forget that they also loved a fine, handcrafted beer.
Sure Sam Adams has hogged the spotlight in recent years, but did you know fellow founding fathers Ben Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson all brewed their own beers?
Not only that, but in Philadelphia, birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the powerhouse Yards Brewing Company produces brilliant beers based on those Founders’ original recipes.
What better way to honor this holiday and its historic connection to beer than with a list of craft beers culled from breweries in cities that played key roles in the Revolutionary War? Here’s a six-pack to fire up with your fireworks this year …
1. England: The Trooper Ale, Robinsons Brewery
Any discussion of revolutionary beers needs to start at the beginning — in England. As you know, the Brits have a tremendous, longstanding tradition of quality brewing. And, one of the oldest purveyors in the land is Robinsons Brewing, which has brought top-tier ales to the United Kingdom since 1838.
Now, we realize 1838 is a few decades after the revolution, but Robinsons gets the nod here because of its most famous new quaff, The Trooper. The beer itself is a deep, yet only mildly bitter brown ale, ripe with disparate notes, ranging from lemon to caramel, and even some Scotch-inspired peat that lingers long after you sip.
It’s not for everyone, but it’s an interesting, new-fangled take on a classic British ale that’s worth a purchase for the awesome bottle art alone.
(Oh yeah, did we mention the entire thing is based on Iron Maiden? Yeah, that sold us, too. Horns up, kids.)
2. Boston: Trillium Brewing Company, Secret Stairs
A photo posted by JC Tetreault (@trilliumbrewing) on Mar 11, 2016 at 6:48am PST
Beantown may best be known for wasted tea and Sam Adams — the guy AND the beer. But today, the city is just bursting with new craft breweries. And, according to BeerAdvocate, Trillium is one of the best.
The Trillium gang isn’t shy about using coffee in its stouts and porters, and Secret Stairs certainly carries on that tradition. This brings a boatload of bitter, with the requisite chocolate/caramel notes to kiss your cheek before the coffee smacks you again on the next sip.
But, what makes it stand out is how well-blended and cohesive the stout is. Flavors aren’t layered as much as they’re melded, and the usual thick, obtuse stout finish is replaced by a clean mouth feel, with no lingering coffee bite. A “must drink,” even on a humid summer day.
3. New York: Evil Twin Brewing, Big Bang Lager
The American Revolution spent a good amount of time in the Big Apple, and the Brooklyn-based Evil Twin honors the explosions of war, and of Independence Day fireworks, with its Big Bang Lager.
Brewed as a joint effort between Evil Twin and Cerveja Tupiniquim from Brazil, this lager is actually an Imperial IPA (or perhaps an IPL), with a fairly potent 8% ABV, and enough hoppiness to degloss a bowling ball … in a good way, of course.
This is a limited edition brew and seems to have moved production exclusively to Brazil, but having had it multiple times, I’d highly recommend seeking it out in a specialty import store near you.
4. Philadelphia: Tröegs Independent Brewing Company, DreamWeaver Wheat
Maybe our New York selection seems a little elitist and unattainable. So, thank goodness for the nice people at Philadelphia’s Tröegs Independent Brewing Company.
First off, the company implies independence right in its name, so it was already on our short list. But more importantly, in a beer universe full of “limited releases” and “seasonal specialties” having a readily available, year-round beer was a nice change of pace.
Did I mention that it’s awesome? DreamWeaver is a top-flight hefeweizen that is bright and tart, making for a clean-drinking beer that will be welcome at any outdoor picnic. And, at 4.8% ABV, it’s a perfect beer to enjoy throughout the day … or at least until one of the heavier hitters on this list becomes available.
5. Trenton: Flying Fish Brewing Company, Exit 16 Wild Rice Double IPA
Oh sure, when it comes to independence, Philly and NYC get all the attention. But plenty of important Revolutionary War events occurred in smaller locales. Take, for example, the humble hamlet of Trenton, New Jersey … home of Flying Fish Brewing Company.
This strong, hoppy-as-hades, year-round double IPA has been around a while, yet always seems to find a way back into my beer vision. That’s probably because this unique bottle is brewed with organic white and brown rice.
According to the brewery, “Rice helps the beer ferment dry to better showcase the five different hops we added.”
According to my mouth, Exit 16 is loaded with tropical and citrus notes without ever becoming sticky or heavy-handed. Coupled with a potent ABV and fairly high carbonation, and you have a beer that cuts through your palate in ways you’d never expect from the description.
6. Charleston: Palmetto Brewing, Homefront IPA
Our final selection comes from another small(er) town that played a major role in the American Revolution: Charleston, South Carolina. I never knew of Charleston’s significance in the Revolutionary War until my sister got married at one of the town’s storied plantations.
I also never knew of Charleston’s soon-to-be-storied craft beer reputation, until I was introduced to Palmetto Brewing.
Fittingly, both for this article, and for the current state of the world, the brewery’s Homefront IPA is a beer that offers value well beyond the bottle. Palmetto donates 100% of this beer’s proceeds to Operation: Homefront, as part of Hops for Heroes, making it a worthy addition to our list, regardless of flavor.
But fret not, enthusiasts — this local favorite is also a damn good IPA, with sharp cascade hoppiness and a schooner full of tart orange notes. It’s a clean, clearly defined IPA with no unnecessary complexity to interrupt the enjoyment. In other words, it’s just really good beer.
Plus, Palmetto states they brew this beer to celebrate US service members, past and present, making it the perfect choice to end our tour of revolutionary beers to enjoy this Fourth of July holiday.
[ED. NOTE: Untappd reports that Palmetto no longer produces this beer, but updates are still coming in, and it still appears on the Palmetto website. If you have any tips or updates, let us know on our Facebook page.]
Independence, whether from tyranny or bad beverages, is the reason for this holiday. So, it’s important that you celebrate your own appreciation for independent breweries and revolutionary craft beer on July 4, and throughout the year. Because this is how our forefathers intended it to be.
We worked hard to sample revolutionary beers from historic locales, but there was no way to get them all. Tell us what we missed!