College was a crazy time, wasn’t it? You get there, you walk into your first party, and some frat guy hands you a Keystone Light. You kindly thank him, but let him know you only drink hard liquor. You thought this would be an okay answer since hard liquor can REALLY mess you up. Wrong answer. The good news is that you and every other freshman did it at one point, and this mistake can be made right. Simply accept this watery treat of 4.2 percent alcohol and say thank you.
Heading into your upperclassmen years, you realize you’ve become such a beer connoisseur that you can now upgrade your taste buds to the delicious and classy Bud Light–same alcohol content, but a way better taste.
Finally, at the pinnacle of your college career, senior year arrives and you are ready to throw down and let everyone know that you and your bros keep it classy. How do you keep it classier than Bud Light? You buy Bud Light Platinum. WHAT? These must be some stand up guys, because that is the classiest beer around town! Wrong. Oh, so wrong.
Times were simple back in college. That journey you went on with beer was both monumental and the foundation to what has now become your hops education. What could possibly come after college? Real beer, that’s what. I’m talking about the good stuff: craft beers. What will follow will be the cream of the crop when it comes to a great starter pack to continue your most important education. In college you earned a high school diploma of beer. I want to give you your bachelor’s.
Three Floyds Brewing
Alcohol Content: 5.5 Percent
This is an American wheat ale and is probably one of the most amazing beers you will ever get your unworthy hands on. Three Floyds delivers us a beer so highly sought after that some Binny’s will only sell one six-pack per person. Yeah, it’s that good. The quest to get a taste makes it all the more worthwhile. Luckily for the postgrads in the Chicago area, it’s easier to find this beer. Three Floyds is a small brewery and it can take a long time to grab a table if you want to drink there, but it’s worth it if you want their products on tap. If not, then hit the side door and create your own case, mixing and matching some of their more daring and more incredible beers. Anyone who has ever had Three Floyds is instantly thinking “Zombie Dust” or “Alpha King” or “Pride and Joy.” The list goes on. If you’re feeling really bold, check out their Dark Lord’s Day celebration.
2. Green Flash West Coast IPA
Green Flash Brewing Company
Sand Diego, Calif.
Alcohol Content: 7.3 Percent
This is a full-flavored, copper colored beer that is just smooth enough to where you won’t get thrown by the fact that it’s an IPA. Any real beer bar will have this in stock, or possibly even on tap. Green Flash is known around the country for many of its beers, but I’ve found this to be one of its best.
3. Fixed Gear
Alcohol Content: 6.5 Percent
Fixed Gear is a bold American red ale straight out of the cheese state, and comes with an attitude. No, it’s not an IPA, but it has enough hops to throw you for a loop. Check it out.
4. Spotted Cow
New Glarus Brewing
New Glarus, Wis.
Alcohol Content: 5.1 Percent
I know what you’re thinking: “Another beer from Wisconsin? Come on!” It’s true. I don’t like to give those cheeseheads much credit with me being a Bears fan and all, but they get it right every once in a while. The entire New Glarus lineup is nothing short of delicious and flavorful, but Spotted Cow is their version of a light beer–and it is amazing. It’s more of a cream ale, but it goes down smoothly and tastes great in the summer. Their entire brewery is fantastic and worth a trip.
5. A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
Lagunitas Brewing Company
Alcohol Content: 7.5 Percent
This beer will knock you on your ass, plain and simple. I recently turned a friend onto this one only to receive a text at midnight saying he had two of them and was riding the buzz train. This is a beer not to take lightly. Be careful not to drink more than one or two before switching to something different, or else it’s flavor and beauty will be lost. Switch in something lighter and less hoppy in between just so you’re ready for more hops when you come back to it. This beer recently has become easier and easier to find in liquor stores, so it should definitely be on your list.
Two Brothers Brewing Company
Alcohol Content: 5.1 Percent
I had to throw this one in because it’s from my hometown, and it’s some really great beer. Sidekick is loaded with juicy citrus and passionfruit hop aroma, but balanced out with malt. As some put it, it “tastes like a Christmas tree” but don’t let that fool you. This beer is a beginner’s delight when it comes to trying new craft beers. It doesn’t stray too far from the pale ale spectrum and would be a good start to begin your beer journey. Two Brothers is only going to keep expanding, as it should, and they have a great variety of beers to offer.
There it is. The beginning of the rest of your lives. Put down that Bud Light and go out there and try as many new brews as you can. You’re a postgrad now! You can afford a higher class beer, because you probably have some job that you hate while living with your parents. Craft beers should be your new hobby, because they’re going to be there for you when you need them. You’ll also somehow feel less trashy cracking one open after work, because it’s not PBR.