Oskar Blues foresaw the beer-friendly properties and near-boundless portability of packaging its beer in cans when it released Dale's Pale Ale, the country's first hand-canned craft beer, in 2002 and opened new horizons in the process.
It's a good thing many breweries have since followed suit, as more variety means more options when it comes to pairing your favorite beer with outdoor adventures, post-hike campfire sessions, pre-concert tailgating and general summer fun. Whatever your chosen pursuit, here are a few canned favorites that are sure to please:
Bolder Beer's flagship Hazed and Infused, an aggressively hopped pale ale, was the first canned beer released by Colorado's first craft brewery. More recently, the brewery added Hoopla Pale Ale to the mix. This summer seasonal was designed in concert with musician Kyle Hollingsworth as a hoppy yet highly quaffable beer to pair with outdoor concerts and festivals.
Avery Brewing Co. offers most of its core beers in cans -- including Joe's Premium American Pilsner, Avery IPA, Ellie's Brown and White Rascal Belgian-style White Ale. The brewery recently announced that cans of its IPA and White Rascal will be available in 12-packs beginning in late June.
Ska Brewing's Mexican Logger is a great choice for fans of pilsners and other light lagers. This Mexican-style lager packs a ton of flavor into a crisp, clean and refreshing package.
Crystal Springs Summertime Ale, a light and zippy Kolsch-style ale, also strikes a refreshing, flavorful balance without trying to be too much. And its lower alcohol level means you can knock back a few without losing your edge.
Broomfield's Big Choice Brewing will release its second canned beer later this month. Called West Portal Colorado Common Summer Ale, it's touted as a light and refreshing ale with a tinge of bitterness.
Crazy Mountain Amber Ale achieves a thirst-quenching crispness and slightly hoppy balance in its amber ale. Bonus: The Edwards-based brewery donates 1 percent of its profits to the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability.
Dry Dock Brewing's Paragon Apricot Blonde, an ale perfumed with delicate apricot and honey aromas, was such a summer pleaser that the brewery decided to can the beer and offer it year-round. It's available in six-packs, as well as in Dry Dock's sampler 12-pack "Booty Box" along with its Hefeweizen -- another great choice for a summer quencher -- Amber Ale and Hop Abomination.
Eddyline Brewing in Buena Vista offers several outdoor-themed canned beers, including its Boater Beer American Premium Lager, CrankYanker IPA and River Runners Pale Ale. The latter pours a light straw color with orange and mango on the nose, a rounded, balanced flavor with a slight hop zip and a crisp, dry finish. It's easy to see why it won a Great American Beer Festival gold medal for International Style Pale Ale in 2012.
Upslope Brewery recently added an Imperial India Pale Ale to its all-can lineup. Packaged in an attractive, black-jacketed aluminum tall boy can, this double IPA smells of dank pine with some citrus top notes, and an assertive yet not over-the-top flavor that's dangerously smooth, despite being 90-plus International Bittering Units (IBU) and 10 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).
Renegade Brewing Co. offers a diverse lineup of canned beers -- including the light and sessionable 5:00 Ale; Redacted India Pale Ale, with a bit of spicy rye for added zing, and its E3 Triple India Pale Ale. The latter is loaded with Summit hops and finishes at more than 100 IBUs and 11 percent ABV. It's not as bracingly bitter as one might anticipate, with soft citrus flavors quickly overtaking the piney attack for a satisfyingly complex finish.
For bringing along beer just about anywhere you go without sacrificing flavor or being limited by style, canned craft beers are an ideal way to pop the top on summer.
Contact Tom Wilmes at firstname.lastname@example.org.