Monday, July 8, 2013

Float beer

Float beer, sometimes called yard beer, is what anglers call cheap, light brews that are well-suited for a summer float. Everyone has their favorite, but there are a few that seem particularly popular. Whether you're out with friends or fishing with a guide, a suitable beer goes hand-in-hand with fishing.

Some criteria for a float beer:
  • Light. Thick, dark beer does not suffice on sun-drenched, August afternoons. Or sun-drenched April mornings. You might want a darker beer for that annual January float, but you might just prefer toddy then. 
  • Low-alcohol. You're gonna drink many to keep you cool, and you don't want to be too besotted before you take out and drive home. Or you're a passenger, in which case disregard this one. I have knocked people out of the boat while rowing after high-fiving Jim Beam and I'm still taking shit. Avoid this. 
  • Inexpensive. You're not going to be savoring flavors anyhow, why spend the money?
  • Comes in cans.  Cans are easier to dispose of (and recycle around here), they stack nicely in the cooler and are crushable when it's over. 
  • Drinkable. Many beers that would otherwise qualify, taste bad. Avoid this. 
Some, reviewed:

Bud Light Lime (4.2% abv): This has apparently become a favorite of the anglers at Simms Fishing Products, and twas they who introduced me. It fits all the criteria, and doesn't taste as terrible as you might've heard. Actually, it's kinda good.

Deschutes Brewing River Ale (4% abv, 28 IBUs): This one got me excited initially, but it comes in bottles, is micro-brew priced, and the taste isn't good enough to overcome that. But if you want to be fancy, give it a shot.

PBR (4.73% abv): Most people's favorite, but I stand by my claim that most people drink PBR cuz it's hip (though I bought a couple sixers earlier this year, because of other factors). After acquiring the taste it flavors decent enough, is cheap, light-enough and comes in cans. Hard to go too wrong, but for my money there are better options.
PBR is common, though not my favorite.
Maddy Light (4% abv): (Almost) the least distributed beer on the list - you have to fill a growler at the Madison River Brewing Company's taproom to bring this in a boat. But it's darn tasty, light, crisp and satisfies the criteria as well as any. But drinking from a cup while bobbing downriver is far from ideal.
Not ideal, but doable. 
Great Falls Select (unknown abv, but sessionable): Also relatively undistributed, this beer works well. It's priced in between PBR and microbrew-pricing, is tasty, light, and generally satisfying. If you're local beer-outlet stocks it, I recommend it.
Though not widely available, GFS is a favorite of mine.
Two-Tenths Brewing Company Floating IPA (~3.54% abv; name subject to change): This is Liz-and-my first-ever homebrew. It's an IPA, but apparently got a bit diluted as the alcohol content will probably be low (it's still fermenting, but the initial gravity was low). The dilution should help it meet at least a couple criteria, and make it a suitable float beer, which was our intent ;) Extremely rare.

And here's another list of "cheap" beer that might give you some guidance.

My list is incomplete and regional  - tell me what I missed. When I float your rivers, what beer should I pack?


Will Jordan said...

Modelo Especial w/ lime, in a can of course.

Joshua Bergan said...

Is that an Arizona or a Montana beer? Just kidding. I will keep an eye out.

Fly Waters Edge - Kevin said...

1st choice Rolling Rock in the Can.
2nd Stag
3rd Anything if I ran out of mine.

Joshua Bergan said...

Yuck. Just kidding. I haven't had Rolling Rock in years, but I bet it'd work well. Don't know Stag but I'd try it.

Ryan said...

Pako's IPA from Snake River is a good choice. 6.8%- maybe a little high and pricey, but very good and comes in a can.

Did you stop by Toppling Goliath in Decorah when you were in Iowa? That's our after-trip or boat growler stop here.

Joshua Bergan said...

I've seen the IPA - sounds like a good choice to me as long as I'm not driving.

We did stop at Toppling Goliath - very good beer! I could probably survive in Decorah.