Budweiser has long since claimed to be the national beer of America. Born with the same blue collar, utilitarian appeal as Ellis Island, the St. Louis godfather co-opted the American flag as its official coat of arms back in 2012, and this May, they doubled down on their national pride by renaming their beer “America.” Bold. Audacious. And, if we’re being honest, kind of a sham.
Bud may have once been the most patriotic beer in the USA, but the brewery has been owned by a Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate since before they ever took up the Stars and Stripes. With it’s 25% market share and anti-small-business rhetoric, the King of Beers is more about pure capitalism than democracy, so it doesn’t make sense to reach for a Budweiser when you’re kicking back and celebrating America’s 240th birthday.
The face of the American beer industry is the craft brewer. The pioneers. The cavalry of the self-made. The revolutionaries who stay loyal to their compatriots. We found seven craft beers with enough patriotic spirit to get you through the Fourth of July’s fireworks.
21st Amendment Brew Free! Or Die IPA
E pluribus patriotic brews from 21st Amendment Brewery, their IPA stands as the most noble expression of allegiance in the San Francisco brewer’s catalog. Adapting the libertarian state motto of New Hampshire, Brew Free! Or Die features a swaggering Abraham Lincoln on the label as a message to anyone within eyeshot that you value independence, autonomy, and honor above all else when you’re filling your cooler.
On the inside of the can is an anti-imperial IPA that illustrates just how far American brewing has come since the Colonial Days. With a peony of cascade and centennial hops bursting out of the opening, Brew Free! Or Die is one of the purest examples of the West Coast IPA and all its nationalistic glory.
Rogue American Amber Ale
Portland beer engineers Rogue Ales & Spirits have reaped the amber waves of grain to produce a beer that tips its hat to the American proletariat. Rogue draws most of it’s aesthetic from Eastern Bloc propaganda, but that doesn’t mean they don’t brew up one of the most patriotic beers on the free market.
This idyllic red ale is deeply malty and sweet with a hint of noble hops to even it out. Brewed to quench the thirst of a hard day’s work in the heartland, American Amber goes great with a setting sun and a brow mopped with field sweat.
Prohibition is an unfortunate tradition, but it’s America’s most lasting contribution to the global drinking community. We’re still working to reclaim what we lost by de-legalizing brewing, so Minneapolis alehouse Surly Brewing took a look back to before the dark days of the 1920s to inspire their most patriotic beer.
#Merica! — brewed to be served at Twin Cities punk band Dillinger Four’s annual Fourth of July party — leans on flaked corn to build its flavor profile instead of just making a cheaper malt mix, a tradition before a certain Minnesotan came up with the bright idea to shut down one of the biggest industries in the country over bogus moral outrage. Surly’s doing their best to win back their home state’s good name in the drinking community, and this lager shows what we’d be capable of if we hadn’t spent the last 10 decades trying to make up for lost traditions.
Anchor Liberty Ale
Like fellow Franconians’ 21st Amendment, Anchor Brewing is thoroughly ensconced in the philosophies of the founding father. First brewed in 1975 to commemorate the bicentennial of Paul Revere’s iconic ride, Liberty Ale has roots in two separate American revolutions. The star-spangled eagle soaring across its label has become synonymous with American craft brewing since it was first introduced over 40 years ago. It’s fitting then that the beer is engineered with a champagne-like effervescence, because it’s the perfect bottle for pouring a frothy toast to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.
Diamond Bear Presidential IPA
Diamond Bear brought production brewing back to Little Rock in 2000, and the cheeky Arkansas brewery claims their unimpeachable IPA was a favorite of former Senator and President Bill Clinton, so they named it in his honor.
Presidential IPA is grassy and robust, with a sturdy 57 IBU leading the way. But if you’re into the excess that characterized the Clinton administration, Diamond Bear also makes a Two Term Imperial IPA that clocks in at 9.9% ABV and 90 IBU. Either edition is a salute to the GDP glory days of 1990s America. Do yourself a favor and inhale.
Union Anthem Golden Ale
Francis Scott Key wrote the words to “Defence of Fort M’Henry” after witnessing the bombardment on the titular Baltimore fort. That poem would later be set to a commandeered British tune and become “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a fact that Baltimore neighbor Union Craft Brewing would honor with their Anthem Golden Ale.
Bearing the joyous tagline, “Just the thing to make you sing,” Anthem goes down with all the pomp and triumph of a Revolutionary War march. It has a light hop character, but it’s a cream ale at its heart, refreshing dutifully and with honor. At 5% ABV, you could drink a battalion of these soldiers between refrains of the national anthem.
Hops for Heroes Homefront IPA
Freedom isn’t free, as the old slogan goes, so Hops for Heroes gathered over half a dozen American breweries for the sake of veteran-focused charities. 21st Amendment, Center of the Universe, Cigar City, Fremont Brewing, Left Hand, Maui Brewing, and Stone all produce iterations of this flagwaving brand, with the main intention being to give back to those who sacrifice for the American way. Though it’s really more for Memorial Day than Independence Day, you can’t go wrong sipping from this proudly eagled can on any day that celebrates the Land of Liberty, regardless of which brewer you buy it from.