All words: Mitchell West, All photos: Morgan Hungerford West
I went camping with my wife and some friends last weekend. It was a blast, because we had the necessary ingredients for an awesome camping trip: lots of canned beer. When you’re camping or doing anything outdoorsy (hiking, swimming, canoeing, mowing the lawn, watching someone mow the lawn) canned beer is always preferable. It won’t shatter, it cools down quicker, the empties take up less space (and are easier to dispose of), and you can fit so many of them in a cooler. But, for a long time, if you wanted to drink beer from a can you had to go with something a little more pedestrian, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But now you have options.
Over the last few years, the craft can movement has taken off in a big way, and for several reasons. Cans actually preserve the flavor of beer better than bottles. A bottle cap allows oxygen into a beer over time, and that’s bad because oxygen exposure will eventually destroy the taste (some breweries dip the bottle tops of their ageable offerings in wax to prevent oxygenation). Cans are permanently airtight, and keep beer fresh longer.
Another benefit to cans is that they are impervious to light. UV rays are very harmful to beer, and when they interact with hop oils in beer they produce the exact same chemical compound that skunks do. This is why your green-bottled Heineken sometimes tastes “skunky.” And don’t get me started on Corona bottles. Even brown bottles do not block all the sunlight, and the rays can be very damaging to the precious flavor of that expensive 6 pack you just bought.
Back to that camping trip: on our way out of town we grabbed a few six packs of DC Brau’s flagship beers. If you’re not familiar with them you should be; here’s the rundown:
A strong and aggressively hopped pale ale, this was the brewery’s first release. Clocking in at 6%, it’s a big pale ale for sure, but quite drinkable. The Public pours a beautiful copper color and has juicy citrus hops backed with a sweet malt backbone. It’s a great example of a modern American pale ale.
DC Brau’s IPA is a single hop beer, meaning only one type of hop is used in the brewing process. It’s an ode to the Columbus hop, which gives this beer a piney and dank aroma that you can smell immediately when cracking the can. Slightly lighter in color and less sweet than The Public, this is a beer for hop heads.
Lighter in color and higher in alcohol than the other two flagship offerings, this Belgian-style pale ale pours a golden honey color. The malts give it a biscuit-y sweetness which pairs nicely with the earthy hop flavors. Be warned, while it comes in a can and is very drinkable, it clocks in at over 7% alcohol.