Now that summer’s arrived for good, everyone is thinking the same thing right now: “Let’s go drink outside!” Of course, due to a pesky thing called “laws,” most Americans only have the opportunity to legally drink outside at certain designated bar patios, beer gardens, and sidewalk cafés. But that’s no fun.
Luckily, I’ve discovered that, due to the massive proliferation of canned craft beer, it’s become quite easy to drink in public undetected. And you don’t even need to brown-bag your brew like a weenie to evade Johnny Lawman.*
The following beers are not only delicious, but with their wacky labels, strange names (often written in indecipherable fonts), and atypical sizes, they’re easily mistaken for an energy drink or exxxtreme soda. Grab your SPF 50, fill your cargo shorts with beer, and let’s hit the streets…
* If you get caught, don’t say “First We Feast made me do it!” Unless you record it and turn it into a viral video.—Ed
Will be mistaken for: Grapefruit juice
I wouldn’t even be worried about the 5-0 busting you for drinking a radler while tanning in a public park. Because, you see, a radler is just barely beer. A mix of beer and fruit juice—in this case, grapefruit—it checks in at a mere 2.5% ABV. Still, Stiegl’s is tasty, and it will indeed get you drunk (if you drink, like, 40 of them).
From: Westminster, MA
Style: Fruit beer
Will be mistaken for: Generic store-brand soda
Fruit beers get a lot of shit lobbed their way, with many people comparing them to fruit sodas. What’s wrong with that? If they were good enough for the Notorious B.I.G.—who considered “a T-bone steak, cheese, eggs, and Welch’s grape” the best way to fill his belly—then they’re good enough for you to swig while being forced to attend a child’s birthday party.
21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon
From: San Francisco, CA
Style: Wheat beer
Looks like: Some sort of AriZona iced tea you always see loser kids on the corner drinking
A second fruit beer? Ugh. But this wheat ale is so damn light, you only taste a hint of the watermelon. It’s like those fancy hotels that have infused fruit water in theirs lobbies. In other words, Hell or High is great for a hot day of hitting the links or lounging at your suburb’s community pool.
Surly Coffee Bender
From: Brooklyn Center, MN
Style: American brown ale
Will be mistaken for: Some calorie-packed iced espresso drink you paid too much for
Nothing signifies the start of “nice” weather more than the first morning commute you decide to grab an iced coffee instead of your regular hot one. Yet we ignore coffee beers during the warmer months as the majority of them are robust stouts.—but not Surly Coffee Bender. A lower-ABV brown ale literally steeped with coarsely-ground Guatemalan coffee beans for 24 hours, this is like the world’s best iced coffee. And you don’t even need to add skim milk or some fucking Splenda.
From: Mt. Pleasant, SC
Will be mistaken for: Some fancy coconut water like those Soul Cycle chicks drink after class
For most of America, gose is still an obscure style. It shouldn’t be. Sure, Westbrook’s proclamation of “sour, salty, delicious” may sound off-putting, but this low-ABV ale is a terrific summer refresher for a day at the beach. Or a day where you never even leave your front stoop.
From: Papillion, NE
Style: English brown ale
Will be mistaken for: Root beer
Your officemates are a bunch of squares you don’t want to spend any more time with than necessary. Unfortunately, it’s good for your career to show your face at the family-friendly company picnic. Last year, you thrust your hand into the ice-packed cooler and found nothing more potent than soda. This year, you’ll bring your own cooler of Nebraska Brunette, a splendid nut brown that will blend right in with that can of A&W your boss just offered you.
Revolution Rosa Hibiscus Ale
From: Chicago, IL
Style: Herbed/spiced beer
Will be mistaken for: Herbal tea
Rosa Hibiscus doesn’t just look like an herbal tea—it kind of tastes like one too. “I swear officer, I didn’t smuggle beer into the zoo…it’s herbal iced tea,” you’ll say. One sip of this beauty and he might actually believe you.
Avery White Rascal
From: Boulder, CO
Looks like: Some “thirst-quencher”
Avery makes some of the most ambitious barrel-aged beers in America. This isn’t one of them. White Rascal is instead a very simple yet very tasty white ale spiced with coriander and orange peel. It’s even simpler to secretly drink during changeovers any time your wife makes you play mixed-doubles with that couple you hate.
COOP Horny Toad
From: Oklahoma City, OK
Style: Blonde ale
Looks like: Some sparkling water bullshit
This “cerveza” from Oklahoma was designed as an easy-drinking introduction to craft beer for long-time macro-swill drinkers. A blonde ale with a hint of Noble hops, it comes in tallboy cans are also a perfect introduction to getting away with openly drinking at your cousin’s Little League games. As long as you don’t dress down the teenage ump for his inconsistent strike zone, no one’ll notice.
New England Gandhi-Bot
From: Woodbridge, CT
Will be mistaken for: European mineral water
With peaceful Gandhi on the can’s label—admittedly, robotic version—you’ll look like a peaceful man yourself. A peaceful man who surely wouldn’t put anything more potent into his body than mineral water, especially not out in public. Then again, you reason that a majority of any beer’s composition is water—and hops are kind of minerals—so you’re not lying when Johnny Law comes to bother you.
Half Acre Heyoka
From: Chicago, IL
Will be mistaken for: Some weird soda you found in a Washington Heights bodega
Despite the loud label, Heyoka is a pretty standard West Coast IPA (from the…uh, Midwest). Half Acre’s first widely-released IPA, the beer has more tropical fruit flavors than a pack of Starburst. And you can drink the 16-ounce cans at the state fair without people assuming you’re the kind of guy who gets drunk and then rides the tilt-a-whirl.
From: Brooklyn, NY
Will be mistaken for: Some energy drink douches in your office “crush” every afternoon around 3pm
Size is of paramount importance when trying to sneak beers into a place they’re not meant to be snuck. Fortunately, Sixpoint makes these gorgeously sleek 12-ouncers. Resin is dank, piney, and perfect for slipping into your fanny pack pockets before you head into a music festival.
Sun King Hop Up Offa That Brett
From: Indianapolis, IN
Style: Belgian pale ale
Will be mistaken for: Artisanal kombucha made in Bed-Stuy
I mean, look at those freaking…cans. Or are they bottles? Actually, they’re called “Alumi-tek” and they’re currently being used by only two American craft breweries (Sun King and Oskar Blue’s). When you swig one as you walk through a boring-ass flea market with your girlfriend, other antiquing hipsters won’t even know you’re getting loaded on an incredible Belgian-style golden ale fermented with Brettanomyces. Your girlfriend might not notice either until you decide to buy a $400 reclaimed wood bench.
BONUS CIDER! Virtue Red Streak
From: Fennville, MI
Looks like: Apple juice
When you hang at the public dog run coolly sipping this cider from former Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall, you’ll enjoy its crisp, tart alcoholic-ness a heckuva lot more than the apple juice it looks like. Actually…maybe it’s better to be known as a public drunk than an adult who publically drinks apple juice.
BONUS MEAD! Redstone Sunshine Nectar
From: Boulder, CO
Looks like: Some sort of “superfood”-packed drink
You might not even need to lie about this one. Of course ,you can drink mead in public—no one even knows it’s alcohol! But don’t worry—it is, in fact, a honey wine that’s quite boozy and totally delicious. And Sunshine Nectar is the rare mead available in cans, a quite approachable way to get into the oddball beverage. It’s an even more approachable way to get totally blotto on the sly while waiting for the bus to take you to Trader Joe’s.