I can’t say when it happened, but there’s no debate now. I’ve switched from my former life as a red wine drinker to a true craft beer fan. Cheers to that!
According to the Brewer’s Association, there were over 9,000 breweries in the United States as of 2022. The largest segment of growth in that count came from the opening of new brewpubs starting in 2012, a number that has exponentially grown since the report. So, it’s no surprise that my love of the suds is also growing exponentially!
A fan of unfiltered and fruit-forward brews, I’ve narrowed my list to five must-have beers. I don’t like hoppy beers, so you won’t find those on my list. However, my go-to selection includes a few shining stars you should be sipping on! Without further ado, I give you 5 Craft Beers You Need to Try!
Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat 4.4% – Described as an “ale with natural citrusy flavor,” it’s Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company’s best-selling beer for its drinkability. It’s smooth, flavorful, and drinks like a slightly sweetened ballpark light beer. I’ve yet to find a type of food that I can’t drink with OR a friend who doesn’t want to drink one with me. I highly recommend reserving a facility tour if you can visit the brewery.
Free State Brewery’s Guavatas Sour 4.65% – A graduate of the University of Kansas, I spent Mondays at Free State Brewery drinking ales shoulder-to-shoulder with townies and college students alike on $1 Pint Night. I’m a big fan of Sours, so I can’t recommend their small batch Guavatas Sour enough. Don’t be alarmed to see pulpy bits of guava in your glass after the pour – that’s normal! Its tropical notes beckon thoughts of summer, and its mild tartness finishes nicely. The brewery’s slogan, “Because Without Beer, Things Don’t Seem To Go As Well,” basically sums up my college experience, and I’m still drinking their beer two decades later. That says something about their beer’s consistency and quality.
Uinta Crisp Apple Ale 4.0% – Clearly, I’m a fan of beers with fruity notes. I grabbed a six-pack of Uinta’s Crisp Apple Ale on a whim, and I’ve purchased it many times since then. The Uinta Brewery in Salt Lake City was founded by a guy who transitioned from a home brewer to a professional set-up in a leased mechanic’s garage. They brew all types of craft beer, but I’m partial to their brews featuring fruit, including grapefruit, mango, and apple. It’s a light beer with a slight apple after-taste, always refreshing on the palette. Craving apple pie, now?
Boulevard Jam Band Berry Ale 5.9% – Unlike any beer I’ve ever tasted, Boulevard’s Jam Band Berry Ale is like a dessert in a glass. This ale’s bold taste includes blueberries, raspberries, and tart cherries. I assumed this beer would be one Boulevard would make only for a while due to the cost of using loads of fruit. I assumed it would be one of those one-offs that wouldn’t stay on liquor store shelves. I’m glad they proved me wrong. Lucky us! If you don’t like sweet beers or ciders, steer clear of this one. Loaded with berries and citrus, this beer balances malt with real fruit flavor.
Roadie Grapefruit Radler 4.2% – Brewed in 5-gallon barrels to be heavy in citrus flavor using grapefruit puree, it’s a tangy, crisp beer perfect for drinking on a hot summer day. I love all things grapefruit. Denver’s Great Divide Brewing Company’s seasonal beer is a must-have. It even smells good (ha!). Although it has a tart finish, you can drink more than one in a session.
It’s difficult to narrow my list to five craft beers, but this compilation represents my current faves. If you’re traveling through the Midwest, read 24 Kansas Breweries & Taprooms Worth Visiting for more recommendations.