Beers for the beach

A look at craft beers from N.C. that should make it into your cooler

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Several local summer beer options are available at State of Beer in Raleigh on Tuesday

With Memorial Day approaching, North Carolinians are quickly shifting their focus from the school year schedule to the summer schedule. AAA Carolinas projects that a record number of travelers will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Memorial Day. Many from across North Carolina will travel to their favorite beach, lake or river to observe the holiday that dates to the end of the Civil War and is now a national holiday specifically scheduled to create a long weekend. Whether you are heading to the beach, mountains or race track — hello, Coca-Cola 600 — there is a North Carolina craft beer for every situation. From Asheville to Kinston, we take a look below at some of the Old North State’s best summer offerings.

Mother Earth Weeping Willow Wit

The Kinston brewery has a history of hitting home runs with traditional beer styles and the Wit is no exception. The Wit dips into a European style of yore, channeling its inner Belgian to produce a light, drinkable beer that has just the right amount of zest and spice. With just a 5 percent ABV and minimal bitterness, it’s a beer that should appeal to a wide range of demographics. Park Day and the Berliner Weisse, all three of which are now available in cans, would also merit strong consideration here.

New Sarum Hurley Park Blood Orange Wheat

Looking for a fruity, full-bodied beer that has a sweet and tarty taste? New Sarum Brewing, a five-year-old brewery from Salisbury, has the perfect antidote. The Hurley Park Blood Orange Wheat offers a lemongrass taste and orange peel bite to make for a great beach beer that packs a surprising 6.0 ABV per can.

Raleigh Brewing Hell Yes Ma’am

Speaking of high alcohol volume brews, Raleigh Brewing’s Hell Yes Ma’am is a Belgian Golden that measures in at 9.2 ABV. With notes of apple, pear and clove, Hell Yes Ma’am has every taste imaginable, from sweetness to spiciness, making this a perfect pairing for your next cookout.

NoDa Brewing CAVU

There is no more ideal beer for a day with flawless conditions. CAVU was actually named for a pilot term for “Clear and Visible Conditions” for its easy-to-drink taste and citrus notes. With all NoDa beers coming in a 16-ounce can, this is a crushable brew you can finish before the summer heat warms it up.

Bombshell Brewing Strawberries and Cream

In its sixth year of production, Bombshell Brewing is producing a summer beer that offers a refreshing strawberry aftertaste. With a beer perfectly catered to nearly any beer drinker looking for something different this summer, Bombshell has a winner in the Strawberries & Cream Ale.

Highland Brewing Daycation IPA

How can a beer more perfectly describe a quick trip to the beach? Highland Brewing’s Daycation IPA is up for anything with a fruity flavor and dry hops give this beer a perfect balance. Whether you’re an IPA enthusiast or looking for one you’ll finally enjoy — they’re an acquired taste for some — go on a Daycation with this Asheville brewery.Wooden Robot Brewing Good Morning VietnamThe lone beer on this list that isn’t offered in a can is one that just had to be included. Good Morning Vietnam from Wooden Robot in Charlotte is a blonde ale that infuses Ethiopian coffee and Vanilla beans into this delectable beer. With a taste that reminds us of a cream soda from summers gone by, fill up a growler of Good Morning Vietnam, pack up some Solo cups and slam this unique beer all summer.

Southern Pines Duck Hook Cream Ale

The idea of “cream” coming through in the flavor of a beer might put some people off, but don’t be scared of this light, refreshing American answer to the Kolsch. Southern Pines cooked up a good one, too, and has made Duck Hook a staple of their lineup over the last few years. It’s clean, crisp and borderline sparkling with a lower ABV (4.3) that makes it imminently drinkable on a hot summer day.

Trophy Brewing Trophy Wife Session IPA

With the recent expansion from just the pizza joint to their production facility near downtown Raleigh, the guys at Trophy are suddenly cooking with gas. And Trophy Wife, their signature beer and one of the best session IPAs you will ever sample, is rolling off the canning line frequently and in fresh fashion. An IPA is often too aggressive for a hot summer day in North Carolina, but Trophy Wife packs a punch in terms of hops without being overly malty. It has an abundance of fruit and might be the perfect summer beer for hopheads.

Birdsong Jalapeno Pale Ale

Sweating off a bunch of heat from jalapeños is hardly what any beer drinker wants to do on a humid afternoon. But fans of the spicy pepper will love Birdsong’s offering because it appeals to the palette without wrecking the glands. Birdsong takes its Free Will Pale Ale (a good beer in its own right), cuts the seeds out of the jalapenos and piles the peppers into the beer during the brewing process. What results is a face full of flavor without the heat.