There’s no shortage of over-designed (read: expensive) coolers on the market today, so in theory, it’s never been easier to keep your beer cold while you’re on the go. But because life is life, you don’t always have a $300 Yeti handy. I’ve experienced several situations where I’ve had to turn random objects into makeshift coolers because I had a handful of beers but no cooling device. Trash cans work well if you line them with plastic bags, hotel bathtubs are great if you’re looking to keep dozens of beers cold (pro tip: add a little water to the ice). The glove box of your car does not work well as a cooler, and plastic bags from the grocery store tend to leak, so make sure you double them up if you’re adding ice and beer. Bike helmets leak like crazy.
Of course, if you buy Dogfish Head’s new Activity Box, you won’t need to bring a cooler with you, because the box is a cooler. The box is made from reinforced cardboard, so you can rip the top off of it, expand the “wings,” and fill it with ice and it’ll keep your beers cold for several hours without leaking. I like the idea of selling a “cooler” with beer in it—I liked it when Coors did it half a dozen years ago and I like it more now that there’s good beer inside the packaging. Because make no mistake, the Activity Box is full of good beer. It’s a summer mixed pack built for beer geeks who crave more than just your standard lager when they’re at the beach. We drank all of the beers inside the cardboard cooler—here are our thoughts.
This the most straight forward beer in the box. It’s a Belgian-style white ale with all of the orange and herbalnotes you’d expect from that sort of beer. It’s light and crisp and sessionable at 4.8% ABV. It’s brewed with lemongrass, orange slices, peppercorns and coriander and all of that plays out with a complex nose and a slightly spicy finish—more cinnamon than pepper. It’s easy to overlook this beer in this box full of strange, but I dig it.
Super Eight Super Gose
Gose has become one of the most surprising, but capable, summer styles in the craft brewer’s arsenal in recent years. This one is brewed with quinoa, tons of different and sea salt. Listen to all the fruit that’s in this thing: Prickly pear, mango, boysenberry, blackberry, raspberry, elderberry, kiwi juice. It’s all kind of fruity, sort of like unsweetened grape juice, but tart as all get out. It’s actually a collaboration with Kodak the camera company, because apparently, the pH of this beer is so low, it can develop Super 8 film. Thus the name. I can’t find the salt anywhere, but it’s fruity and tart for sure. It’s 5.3% ABV.
Slightly Mighty Lo-Cal IPA
This super sessionable IPA is brewed with brewed with monk fruit. I don’t know what monk fruit is, but if you’re into low cal beer, you need to put this one on your list. It’s just 95 calories with 3.6 grams of carbs, so it’s basically a diet in a can. It smells delicious, fruity and hoppy, and is incredibly thin on the mouthfeel, but still zesty and has more tropical, malty notes than I’d expect with a session IPA with so few calories. In short, it’s a solid summer-friendly IPA that deserves to be in your cooler.
Sea Quench Ale Session Sour
Another sour? Hell yeah. And this one smells like salt and limes, which makes sense because it was brewed with lime juice, lime peel, black limes and sea salt. That’s all the good things. The sip is frothy and full of lime juice—so frothy, that it essentially dissipates on my tongue. I have to fight hard to find the salt, but it’s there hiding under all of that tart lime. But this beer doesn’t fall into the “puckering” category. It’s actually a little sweet, with a little bit of coconut in there, and it’s super drinkable. Basically, it tastes like a margarita without all the sugar and it makes me want to go straight to the beach. And it’s only 4.9% ABV.