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Cheers to Nautically Inspired Beers

Kick back at the dock after a long day on the water with one (or more) of these nautically inspired beers.

To those of us who are so inclined, is there anything better than kicking back at the dock after a long, hot day on the water and savoring that first swallow of a cold brew? This month, we've collected beers that have nautical inspiration behind them. It was a hardship assignment, let me tell you — all that research and testing. But our editors were willing to make the sacrifice for you, our dear readers. Let's toast to fair winds and following seas. Enjoy!

  • EDITOR'S CHOICE

Amber/Red Ales

Imperial Red Ale

Alaskan Brewing Company, Alaska
Red ale (8.5% alcohol by volume)
Hoppy, floral, fruity, caramel, medium-bodied

Amber Alt Style Ale

Alaskan Brewing Company, Alaska
Altbier (5.3%)
Malty, caramel, toasty, earthy, medium-bodied

Pale Ales

Third Coast Beer

Bell's Brewery, Michigan
Pale ale (4.8%)
Smooth, crisp, hoppy, bitter, malty, light-to-medium bodied

Whale's Tale

Cisco Brewers, Massachusetts
Pale ale (5.6%)
Balanced, caramel, earthy, medium-bodied

Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale

Flying Dog, Maryland
Herbed/spiced beer (Old Bay seasoning added; 5.6%)
Hoppy, citrusy, spicy, medium-bodied
Available May through September in Mid-Atlantic
Fun fact: Proceeds benefit True Blue, a program that advocates on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay's approximately 5,500 watermen

Blonde Ales

Sea Salt Ale

Fire Island Beer Co., New York
American blonde ale (5.2%)
Crisp, balanced, slight salty flavor, toasty, light-bodied
Fun fact: Made with Atlantic sea salt

Lightkeeper

Great Lakes Brewing Company, Ohio
Blonde ale (6.6%)
Crisp, bready, malty, caramel, floral, citrusy, medium-bodied
Fun fact: Inspired by Marblehead Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes. It once employed the first female lightkeeper on the Great Lakes. The label artwork hides the lighthouse's historic Fresnel lens and glacial grooves marking the surrounding terrain.

Export

Shipyard Brewing Company, Maine
American blonde ale (5.1%)
Balanced, bready, herbal, citrusy, medium-bodied

India Pale Ales

Kicker

Alaskan Brewing Company, Alaska
Session IPA (4.5%)
Hoppy, citrusy, tangerine, piney, medium-bodied

  • Two Hearted Ale

Bell's Brewery, Michigan
American IPA (7.1%)
Hoppy, citrusy, piney, spicy, medium-bodied

  • 90 Minute IPA

Dogfish Head, Delaware
American double IPA (9%)
Complex, hoppy, malty, dark fruit, medium-bodied

Commodore Perry India Pale Ale

Great Lakes Brewing, Ohio
English-style IPA (7.7%)
Balanced, floral, earthy, caramel, medium-bodied
Fun fact: The artwork contains the words "Don't give up the sip," a cheeky take on Perry's legendary battle flag.

  • Loose Cannon

Heavy Seas, Maryland
American IPA (7.25%)
Hoppy, citrusy, piney, spicy, medium-bodied

Shipwreck IPA

Lighthouse Brewing Company, British Columbia
West Coast style IPA (6.5%)
Balanced, floral, citrusy, piney, fruity, light-to-medium-bodied

Gale Force IPA

Scuttlebutt Brewing Company, Washington
American IPA (5.6%)
Balanced, hoppy, citrusy, malty, medium-bodied

Screamin' Reels IPA

Saltwater Brewery, Florida
IPA (7%)
Hoppy, citrusy, piney, spicy, medium-bodied
Fun Fact: Saltwater brewery packages its cans with an ocean-friendly biodegradable, compostable six-pack ring made from leftover barley and wheat from the brewing process. Sea animals can safely eat it!

Reeds Bay IPA

Tuckahoe Brewing Company, New Jersey
IPA (6.6%)
Balanced, fruity, citrusy, medium-bodied

Porters

Black Marlin Porter

Ballast Point Brewing Company, California
American porter (6%)
Malty, complex, roasty, chocolaty, medium-bodied

  •  Victory at Sea

Ballast Point Brewing Company, California
Imperial porter (10%)
Smooth, vanilla, coffee, roasty, caramel, full-bodied

  • Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

Great Lakes Brewing Company, Ohio
Porter (6%)
Malty, complex, roasty, chocolaty, medium-bodied
Fun fact: Hidden in the label artwork, you'll find the fated freighter's name handwritten by the ship's first mate and the number 29 to represent the crew who lost their lives.

Stouts

Seaport Vanilla Stout

Lighthouse Brewing Company, British Columbia
Sweet stout (5.5%)
Balanced, vanilla, malty, roasty, chocolaty, coffee, medium-bodied

Blue Fin Stout

Shipyard Brewing Company, Maine
Classic Irish stout (4.7%)
Malty, dry roast, burnt, coffee, medium-bodied

  • Narwhal Imperial Stout

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., California
American imperial stout (10.2%)
Smooth, roasty, chocolaty, coffee, sweet, medium-to-full bodied

Wheat Beers

Oarsman Ale

Bell's Brewery, Michigan
Wheat ale (Berliner Weissbier, pronounced "vice-beer"; 4%)
Crisp, tart, fruity, light-bodied

Spinnaker

Rising Tide, Maine
Hefewizen (4.5%)
Balanced, spicy, citrusy, fruity, light-to-medium bodied (Available April through September)

Blue

SweetWater Brewing Company, Georgia
Wheat ale/fruit beer (4.9%)
Fruity, grainy, light-bodied

Lagers/Pilsners

Anchor Steam Beer

Anchor Brewing Company, California
California steam beer (4.9%)
Malty, earthy, caramel, light-bodied

Lager of the Lakes

Bell's Brewery, Michigan
Bohemian pilsner (5%)
Malty, toasty, bready, herbal, citrusy, medium-bodied

Sankaty Light Lager

Cisco Brewers, Massachusetts
Light lager (3.8%)
Crisp, bready, citrusy, light-bodied

Cascade Pilsner

Full Sail Brewing Company, Oregon
American-style lager (6.0%)
Crisp, clean, balanced, light-bodied

America's Cup

Narragansett, Rhode Island
Bermuda-style pilsner (5%)
Crisp, clean, slightly sweet, spicy, light-bodied
Available only through July 2017
Fun fact: This has been named the official beer of the 2017 America's Cup

Scrimshaw

North Coast Brewing, California
German pilsner (4.7%)
Crisp, clean, balanced, light-bodied

Barleywine

New Crustacean Barleywineish Imperial IPA Sorta
Rogue Ales, Oregon
American barleywine (11.3%)
Balanced, citrusy, piney, fruity, hoppy, malty, medium-to-full bodied

Not into beer? Try a hard apple cider

 

Hard Cider

Rumrunner

Sea Cider, British Columbia
Hard apple cider (12.5%)
Balanced, semi-dry, molasses, apple butter, rum

Ale Of A Tale

Here's a topic to discuss with friends over your next cold one: the history of India pale ale. Common legends offer a whopper of a story that involves a brewer who "discovered" IPA and supplied it to British troops stationed overseas to fill hearty government beer rations. The truth is not quite that heady, though it does involve ships and the sea.

The scene is Britain, circa 1760. The British East India Company was making regular trade excursions, sending ships to India and returning with fine cotton and silk fabrics. Due to these new warm-weather colonial outposts where it was too hot to brew beer (remember, zero refrigeration), British brewers were instructed to add more hops to their export beers, which acted as a preservative, allowing the beer to withstand long voyages and temperature fluctuations while in ship holds. The time in transit (around five months) and motion of the ships were said to help improve the beer as if it had been aged for much longer.

Though the East India Company and, later, British Army forces preferred the darker, sweeter, heavier porters that were popular at the time, middle- and upper-class Europeans living in India sought a more refined beer style. Enter one of the period's largest brewers of pale ale: a man named George Hodgson. His Bow Brewery was situated just a few miles upriver from the docks where the British East India Company merchant ships, known as the East Indiamen, sailed to and from India. Hodgson used his proximity and business prowess to market his wares, generously extending the ship captains credit up to 18 months — enough time for the ships to make a round trip, unload their holds, and fill their coffers. Hodgson's beer soon became the dominant export to British colonies.

Later, after Hodgson's sons took over the business, success turned to greed. Increased prices and decreased terms opened the door to competitors, like Allsop and Bass, which quickly took Bow's standing as the top import. So when did India pale ale become a distinct beer style? Pale ale was being advertised in India by 1784 and was often referred to as "pale ale for India" or "pale ale as prepared for India." This reference continued until 1835 when it was shortened to "East India pale ale" in a Hodgson advertisement that appeared in the Liverpool Mercury newspaper. The longer moniker would be more common, however, for another decade or so, before it became, simply, India pale ale.

Ring Toss

If your favorite six-pack comes packaged with a plastic ring, cut it apart before disposal to help keep marine animals and birds from getting entangled in the openings. Alternatively, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery teamed up with the New York-based ad agency We Believers to create a 100-percent biodegradable compostible, edible, and plastic-free six-pack holder made from byproducts of the brewing process.

Stacey Nedrow-Wigmore

Stacey's earliest memories include being hung by her ankles in the engine compartment of her family's 1963 Egg Harbor, helping with repair work and searching for lost items. Her love of boats may only be superseded by her love of horses. She spent 20 years writing and photographing for and editing magazines and books — including Practical Horseman magazine. She is an award-winning writer and photographer.