Unlike previous years’ lists, I decided to make the eligibility for 2015 a bit more stringent as I’m abiding by the following rules:
|Saratoga: the one time and place it's acceptable to drink craft beer straight from the can with a gaudy koozie.|
- No repeat entries from previous years’ lists
- The beer must be readily available to buy in the Capital Region (e.g. you can walk into a beverage center or supermarket and buy it right now).
- The beer should be reasonably light (preferably no more than 5% ABV), refreshing, and tasty enough for multiple servings.
- The beer should be reasonably priced.
- Only one entry per brewery allowed (not counting “comparable alternatives”).
- Only one entry per specific/niche style allowed.
- Macros are eligible.
- A tie is allowed if two or more beers are extremely similar in style and quality.
- Only beers I’ve actually had qualify for the list.
- Ciders and alcopops are not eligible (they’re not beer, after all). However, shandies and radlers are eligible (I’m making an exception this year).
Nine Pin Cider (6.7% ABV)
Westbrook Gose was #2 on this list, but I haven’t seen many other beers of the style in cans. This is a no-frills brew with coriander and sea salt being the only flavoring additives. I don’t quite taste the fruity flavors the brewery mentions on their website, though there is an underlying and consistent lemon character here. It’s also not quite as sour as most goses, which is fine by me.
COMPARABLE ALTERNATIVE: Sixpoint Jammer.
- Avery White Rascal (5.6% ABV)
COMPARABLE ALTERNATIVE: Westbrook White Thai
- Stiegl Radler (4% ABV)
- Two Roads No Limits Hefeweizen (5% ABV)
NOTE 1: The link above is to my original review which I will re-write sometime soon.
NOTE 2: Nearly all of Two Roads brews are available in both bottles and cans, but not all of their canned beers are available in this market. I also thoroughly enjoyed their Ol’ Factory Pils and Lil’ Heaven Session IPA – but you may not be able to find them in the Capital Region so I didn’t include them on this list.
- Upstate Brewing X.P.A. (4.6% ABV)
- Firestone Walker Pivo Pils (5.3% ABV)
COMPARABLE ALTERNATIVES: Two Roads Ol’ Factory Pils; Cambridge Remain in Light; Snake River Monarch Pilsner; Konig Pilsener.
- Westbrook One Claw (5.5% ABV)
- Stillwater Yacht (4.2% ABV)
- Newburgh Cream Ale (4.2% ABV)
- Ballast Point Even Keel (3.8% ABV)
Hops obviously are at the forefront with a citrusy flavor to start out. It’s slightly dry and spicy (think lemon or orange peel instead of the fruits themselves). Through the middle it becomes a little earthy and herbal – very much in the European pilsner tradition. The malt base is, not surprisingly, light; however it is genuine with an amber/Vienna influence. A slight hop bite as it goes down, but it keeps perfectly with the rest of the body.
At only 3.8% ABV, Ballast Point Even Keel is indeed a light beer, though it still has genuine body to it. The mouthfeel is consistently crisp and well-carbonated, though I’d be lying if I said it didn’t seem a little watery at times. Nevertheless, it is extremely quaffable and refreshing while in the mouth. The hops linger momentarily, but fade eventually. That it comes in cans is the cherry on top since this is exactly what you want in a portable beer.
COMPARABLE ALTERNATIVES: Two Roads Lil’ Heaven Session IPA; Bronx Session IPA; Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA.
So that’s my 2015 list. I still stand by most of my recommendations from 2013 and 2014, though (there are some I regret, in retrospect). If you’re wondering why Beer X didn’t appear on this list maybe it made it in years prior. In fact, I’ll just list all those beers here:
Anderson Valley Summer Solstice
Bitburger Premium Pils
Blanche de Bruxelles
Brooklyn Summer Ale
Bronx Pale Ale
Caldera Pale Ale
Evil Twin Bikini Beer
Founders All Day IPA
Harpoon UFO White
Magic Hat #9
Narragansett Summer Ale
Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager
Sixpoint The Crisp
Trader Joe’s Name Tag Lager
Upstate Brewing Common Sense
Top 10 best canned beers to bring to Saratoga Race Course (2014 edition)
Top 10 best canned beers to bring to Saratoga Race Course (2013 edition)