“Beer in a can” has been long been a controversial subject among craft beer enthusiasts. A handful of quality brewers have been pulling it off for decades. But the can still carries a stigma of sorts. Fortunately, a slew of brewers have figured out the secret. And even more fortunately, some of the best canned beers around are brewed right here in New England. With the exception of Massachusetts-made brews (which we covered last week), here are (in my humble opinion) the best New England beers that come in a can.
Alchemist Heady Topper – 8% ABV, 75 IBU
Heady Topper has been dubbed by many beer aficionados as the greatest beer on earth. Some of that may have to do with its limited availability (aka want what you can’t have), as you can only really find it in Vermont. But man, it’s good. There’s a heavy dose of citrus and malt to balance out some intense hops. The brewery suggests drinking it from the can, but pouring it into a glass and letting it breathe a bit is an equally as fantastic experience.
Pro tip: Make friends with someone who has family in the Burlington, VT area. Have them pick up some.
Marshall Wharf Cant Dog Imperial IPA – 10% ABV
This one was a tough call. Marshall Wharf makes a Russian Imperial Stout called Sexy Chaos that is absolutely world class. But, a while back, a handful of my beer snob friends and I actually ranked Cant Dog ahead of Heady Topper (and ahead of every other single & double IPA involved) in a blind taste test. Given Heady Topper’s standing in the beer community, I figured Cant Dog is probably more worthy of this list. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try Sexy Chaos as well if you can find some.
Pro Tip: Make friends with the ‘beer guy’ at Tully’s Beer & Wine in Wells, Maine.
Narragansett Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout – 5.3% ABV, 30 IBU
If you’re not from Rhode Island, you may not understand the significance of Autocrat coffee milk, which is legendary in that state. So, what do you get when you combine two long-time Rhode Island staples? This time you get a smooth, sweet and malty stout that’s pretty spectacular out of the can.
Pro Tip: This brew was a one-time release in November. You can still find it around at some local liquor stores.
New England Brewing Company Gandhi-Bot – 8.8% ABV, 85 IBU
This intense double IPA is packed with hops. The beer presents as a pleasant balance of full-bodied, bitter, earthy flavor and strong citrus aroma. This is another hard-to-get-your-hands-on brew. So, if you see it, don’t hesitate to scoop it up.
Pro Tip: If you’re NYC-bound, check in with Stew Leonards Wines in Danbury. It’s a short detour off I-84, and they might have some.
Baxter Brewing On the Count of 3 – 7% ABV, 42 IBU
On the count of 3 is a crisp, light, but still very flavorful Hefeweizen. It’s perfect for summer. As with any good Hefeweizen, this one is heavy on malt, and only gives off the slightest hint of bitterness. The delightful flavor is accompanied by pleasant banana and clove-type aromas.
Pro Tip: Like I said before, Tully’s beer guy.
Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale – 4.3% ABV
Rising Tide is probably one of my favorite up-and-coming breweries. They opened in 2010, and have been cranking out a small arsenal of exquisite year-round and limited edition brews. I’ve only had their Maine Island Trail in the bottle (since its cans have only been available since May 1st of this year), but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this hoppy session pale ale is going to be quite noteworthy.
Pro Tip: Take a wild guess… (Tully’s)
On Twitter: @SteveSaleeba