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Crushing it: Your tailgate beer cooler

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By now, you know that good–no, excellent!–craft beer has gone beyond the bottle, and some of the season’s best brews are can-clad. Here’s the all-star lineup you need in the cooler at your next tailgate.

THE BREAKOUT QB: Red Hare Long Day Lager’s a sleeper: It looks like a fine enough lager, but its cohesive construction, dynamic mouthfeel and playback-worthy watermelon note make it a star. And at 4.9% ABV, this easy-sipper can truly play all day.

THE RUNNING BACK: SlyFox Dunkel Lager is a playmaker with skills you’re just born with: Rather than take the expected char-flavor route, the beer’s roasted malt veers dry, then turns on a dime into a light-footed raisiny note.

THE TIGHT END: Quick and versatile, Great Crescent Blonde Ale’s a hybrid style that blends lager drinkability with ale yeast flavor. A grainy twang perks up the profile, and a 5.3% ABV means it’s light on its feet.

THE WIDE RECEIVER: Terrapin RecreationAle’s speedy; it shoots upfield with a burst of sweet and dry hops. A low (4.7%) ABV and soft carbonation keep the beer agile.

THE O LINE: Real oats in Airways Oatmeal PSA block splendidly citrusy Northwestern hops from taking over the palate; the swallow’s smooth but solid.

THE LINEBACKER: Well-built, powerful and, at 8.8% ABV, certainly no lightweight, New England Gandhi-bot is a specimen of an imperial IPA: A substantial mouthfeel and strong malt muscle push forward a hop profile that’s resiny, earthy, floral and fruity all at once.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Cigar City Florida Cracker kicks bold orange straight through the uprights. Tart but not cheek-stinging, the beer finishes totally clean.

THE COACH PARCELLS: Based on a recipe owner Fred Matt’s grandfather brewed in 1914, Saranac Legacy IPA came out of retirement to celebrate the brewery’s 125th birthday and fourth generation of ownership. (An IPA in 1914?! We did a double-take, too.) The beer’s verdantly hoppy but expertly balanced by sturdy malt and a punch of fruit from the very 21st-century addition of Citra hops.

 

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