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Words By Mitchell West, Photos By Morgan West

This list comes from someone who enjoys both a finely crafted beer, and drinking all day. Its purpose is to provide great examples of craft beer to enjoy on the 4th, as well as a timeline for drinking them for maximum patriotic party time (and each suggestion is easily available here in the District). So fire up the grills and fill your coolers with whatever beers you enjoy most. Here are my suggestions for your 4th of July BBQ beers:

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CREAM ALE

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery – Richmond, VA
A great beer to start your drinking day. Enjoy it early in the day without the worry of over-indulging, as it’s only 4.4% alcohol. Richmond’s Hardywood Park Craft Brewery opened only a few years ago but has already garnered quite a bit of well-deserved national attention. According to their website, the Cream Ale is an homage to the first canned beer ever produced, a cream ale from Richmond’s Krueger brewing company in 1935. It’s a craft beer version of a basic domestic beer. Remarkably smooth with a clean finish and little to no hop bitterness, this beer is a perfect companion to a daytime BBQ. It will keep you refreshed and sober while manning the grill or setting up the Slip N’ Slide.

Another great option: Boulevard Brewing – 80 Acre
Refreshingly light and low alcohol, with a nice dose of hops. A perfect all day beer.

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PRIMA PILS

Victory Brewing Company – Downington, PA
Once the food is off of the grill, it’s time to switch to something with a little more flavor. For that, we’ll move on to Victory’s wonderful Prima Pils. Victory Brewing Company is one of the original craft breweries. It opened in the 1996, around the same time as Dogfish Head and Stone, and helped to bring along the craft beer movement in the early 2000s. Their version of a classic German Pilsner has a slightly sweet but still light malt backbone, and a generous amount of European hops give this beer an earthy and floral flavor. Prima Pils pours a beautiful straw color with bold yet thirst-quenching flavors. It’s a perfect beer for a beer lover to enjoy outside on a sunny afternoon along side hot dogs and hamburgers.

Another great option: DC Brau – The Tradition
DC Brau’s tribute to the DC United team has a light body with lots of flavor. It’s just as at home at your 4th of July BBQ as it would be tailgating at RFK.

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Sculpin IPA

Ballast Point Brewing Company – San Diego, CA
San Diego is known for their IPAs. I don’t know if this is San Diego’s best IPA, but it’s definitely one of the best we can easily get here in DC. At 7% alcohol this is one to be shared, but after a good meal it’s nice to get a solid dose of hops as a digestif. American IPAs are known for their hops and this one has a ton. The floral, citrus, and peach flavors coming from the hops pair beautifully with the sweet malt flavor and slight alcohol sting. This beer is great to enjoy in the sun as it’s not too heavy but extremely flavorful.

Another great option: Stone – Ruination
Another badass example of a San Diego IPA, this one is quite a bit heavier on the hops, so be careful.

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Budweiser

Budweiser – America (Belgium)
After a day of drinking, eating, and whatever else you’ve gotten into, it’s time for fireworks. And nothing goes better with fireworks than America’s (Belgian-owned) treasure, Budweiser. We’ve had some great craft beers today, but now it’s time to break out the beer bong and American flag T-shirt. Grab as many bottles of this as you can – we’re partying.

Another great option: Miller – High Life
The Champagne of Beers.

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