Over 200 years ago, William Cowper famously said variety is the spice of life, but that poor man didn’t have our awesome modern-day selection of craft beer! (Did they even have bottled beer in the 18th century?) Anyways, if you want to add some spice to your beer life this summer, you have several variety packs to choose from. Unfortunately, some are better than others. I’ve even bought some and ended up disliking half of the varieties! Batting .500 is not acceptable with beer. Let’s call that “variety pack buyer’s remorse.” But have no fear! I’ve picked two variety packs that are sure to please, from the first beer to the last!
In addition to these two highly-recommended summer variety packs, click here for some delicious summer brews for your next summer cookout, previously enjoyed here on Dad Kingdom. Cheers!
SWEETWATER BREWING COMPANY – “TACKLE BOX” SUMMER VARIETY PACK
420 Extra Pale Ale is Sweetwater’s most prevalent brew and for good reason. It put them on the map. 420 is very balanced and is appropriate for almost any occasion. All variety packs include a “house” beer, and 420 is as good as they come. Also, its 5.7% ABV gives you a little punch without being overwhelming. Whenever I find myself undecided on which beer to grab, a 420 never disappoints.
In my opinion, Take Two Pils is the underrated beer in this variety pack. In a world where IPAs are a dime a dozen and often synonymous with “craft beer,” this brew is a nice deviation. Its 5.5% ABV is no slouch either. The Sweetwater golden blonde pilsner is crisp and refreshing.
Sweetwater IPA is one of the best IPAs around. It lands firmly in my top five IPAs along with Brew Free Or Die IPA and Two Hearted IPA. Despite a strong 6.3% ABV, Sweetwater IPA is not overly bitter, nor does it sacrifice drinkability. Both are characteristics of a fantastic IPA.
Goin’ Coastal IPA is the star of the show here. Don’t let the label fool you, Goin’ Coastal is not an overly fruity excursion. The pineapple infusion adds just enough sweetness to perfectly mellow out the IPA’s hoppy bitterness. Yet, it doesn’t ruin that great IPA flavor that many of us appreciate. Also, Goin’ Coastal isn’t messing around with a 6.1% ABV. Winner winner chicken dinner.
NEW BELGIUM BREWING – FAT TIRE & FRIENDS “COLLABEERATION” VARIETY PACK
New Belgium is celebrating 25 years with a box full of variations on their classic beer, Fat Tire Ale. This is one of the best variety packs ever! There are two delicious Fat Tire amber ales in this variety pack and the rest are all uniquely delicious spins produced by friends in the craft beer industry. The original Fat Tire we know and love has great balance, a broad taste palate and a moderate 5.2% ABV.
Hopworks’ Fat Sour Apple Ale is a great beer if you like hard cider. The sour and tart flavors add an interesting and refreshing depth to the brew. A 5.9% ABV is just right. Unlike some heavily flavored beers, I wasn’t sick of the Fat Sour Apple Ale at the bottom of the bottle. Quite the contrary, I liked it very much. But, if hard cider is not your jam, Fat Sour Apple Ale might be your least favorite of these 6 brews.
Firestone Walker’s Fat Hoppy Ale has some of the best qualities of an IPA without all the bitterness. As the name implies, Fat Hoppy Ale is the most hop-intensive variety of the Collabeeration Pack. The front end is filled with delicious hops and it has a respectable 6.0% ABV, but Fat Hoppy Ale has a surprisingly smooth finish. Delightful.
Avery’s Fat Wild Ale is a “tropic take on Fat Tire.” It has pleasantly subtle citrus notes and fruity hops, with the perfect amount of malt. I enjoyed this one a lot! Its 6.2% ABV is the highest of the 6 varieties in this case, but it is well masked.
Allagash’s Fat Funk Ale has a similarly enjoyable balance of hops and malt, compared to the Fat Wild Ale. But, it has less fruit and citrus. Instead, it takes a fork in the road towards spicy town, especially on the back end. Still, the spice profile (and 5.6% ABV) never go so far as to prohibit drinkability. The Fat Funk Ale goes down easy.
Rhinegeist’s Fat Pale Ale is a great little extra pale ale, not dissimilar from the aforementioned 420. It’s a versatile brew, with a subtle and balanced flavor profile of hops, yeast and malt. The palate-cleanser of the group is smooth, crisp and easy to drink, despite its formidable 6.0% ABV.
As if you needed a reason to fall in love with craft beer all over again, these two variety packs fit the bill.