Whenever I'm invited over to a cookout I use the opportunity to "beerducate" some of my friends.
I'll head up to my local liquor store, or even some local grocery store, and peruse their single bottles. Then the fun begins by making a mixed six-pack to bring to share.
My first pick is a new favorite. It's cool, refreshing, with a bit of lemon tang mixed in and some great flavors brought to you by the added honey and ginger. It's a must-have this summer, The Traveler Beer Co.'s Tenacious Shandy.
A shandy is a beer mixed with ginger ale, cider, citrus-flavored soda, carbonated lemonade, or ginger beer. Shandies may sound kind of frou-frou, but it is a solid beer. They are refreshing and full of flavor. Add two of these to your six-pack just so you can enjoy one all on your own.
Next would be something more on an even keel. A nice light lager is a delicious addition to the mix-six. Going with a top brewery, based out of St. Louis, I've selected Schlafly's Helles Style Summer Lager.
Here's a quick tidbit about beer in general: Lager is just a board style of beer. Beers are either ales or lagers based off the fermentation of their yeast. Lager yeast is slower to ferment and kept at colder temperatures.
Continuing on since we have three spots to fill, I'd change it up and add a fruit ale. Normally it would have been Founders - Cerise, a great cherry ale, just enough tart and sweetness without over powering the beer.
Unfortunately Michigan cherries are hard to come by, and Founders has now released an old favorite - Rübæus, a raspberry ale. It is just as delicious as Cerise, but not super sweet as a dessert. Like a shandy, it is perfectly refreshing and you'll also want two of these on hand just in case.
To close out the six-pack and get our way to the cookout, my final selection is a sharp, uncomplicated pilsner from a brewery I recently visited, Great Lakes Brewery Co. in Cleveland, Ohio. A pilsner is a style of lager beer. It generally has a strong hop flavor, however, I've found that The Wright Pils from Great Lakes Brewery Co. is very crisp and not over-hopped up in flavor.
My mix of six ended up being a mix of four, but I guarantee you, the Traveler Tenacious Shandy and the Rübæus are two that you'll want to stash a few just for yourself.
Schlafly, Founder's, Traveler's and Great Lakes Beers can be found in most of the states within the Midwest and East.
Kathleen Slauzis is a craft beer enthusiast from Indianapolis, IN. She has been learning the ins and outs of the beer and the brewing business for the past four years. You can also find her work on http://IndianaBeer.com/ where she focuses on local craft breweries and follow her on Twitter as @KJLSlauzis.
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