In the growing world of craft beer, cans are the new bottles . While this recent trend is old hat for Colorado’s Oskar Blues Brewery (which has been canning its suds since 1997), industry stalwarts like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium are taking canning mainstream, and smaller breweries are following suit. Canning makes for lighter packaging and protects beer from the harmful effects of UV light. Plus, the cans cause far fewer injuries when crushed against one’s forehead.
Most importantly, canning makes beer more portable than bottling, meaning that you can enjoy everything from hop bombs to imperial stouts even out on the trail. Though only the luckiest of trailblazers will be able to get their hands on Vermont’s Heady Topper, you should be able to find most of the beers below without leaving the beaten path.
1. Dale’s Pale Ale (Oskar Blues; Longmont, CO): No list of canned beers would be complete without at least one beer from Oskar Blues. Dale’s is the canned beer that started it all. It’s a well-balanced, hop-forward pale ale with floral, piney notes fit for the woods.
Alternative: If you’re in the Midwest, Chicago’s Half Acre Beer Company’s Daisy Cutter is lighter bodied and boasts more citrus and less pine than Dale’s. It also comes in 16 ounce cans, meaning you’ll have a little less space in your daypack for those extra socks.
2. Hell or High Watermelon Wheat (21st Amendment; San Francisco): If your idea of roughing it is having access to only two of your three iThings while soaking up the sun from the deck of your stepdad’s boat, enjoy some Hell or High Watermelon while you’re at it. It’s a picnic in a can.
Alternative: Craving a wheat beer without the fruit? Big Sky’s Trout Slayer (Missoula, MT) is as pure as it gets: unfiltered, crisp and sessionable. Perfect for floating on the river.
3. Resin (Sixpoint; Brooklyn): New Englanders, rejoice! This massive hop bomb weighs in at 9 percent ABV and more than 100 IBUs, and its name tips the hand of its dominant characteristic: sticky, resiny hops. This is the beer you earn for finishing that backbreaking hike at the end of your trip.
Alternative: Until recently, Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA (San Diego) was a hoppy gem available only in 22 ounce bombers with limited distribution. Thanks to a big ramp-up in production, you can now find it all over both coasts, and thanks to the new travel-friendly cans, you can camp with them all over as well.
4. Coffee Bender (Surly; Minneapolis): While we’re giving regional favorites a shout-out, let’s not forget the great beers canned in the Midwest. Coffee Bender is an American brown ale that drinks like a porter. A roasty, chocolate-malt body gets you out of your sleeping bag. Pounds and pounds of Guatemalan coffee beans get you on the trail with a bounce in your step.
Alternative: If you prefer camping on the beach to camping in the woods, Maui’s CoCoNut Porter (Lahaina, HI) is your perfect nightcap. Specialty malts play nicely with a touch of sweetness from toasted coconuts. How many other beers do you know that pair well with s’mores?
5. Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout (Anderson Valley; Booneville, CA): A backcountry beer for backcountry camping. Dark and roasty, this beer will complement any food cooked over an open flame.
Alternative: Ten Fidy, an imperial stout from Oskar Blues, is one of the biggest (10.5 percent ABV) beers you’ll find in a can. Black as night, smoky, and offering generous notes of toffee, molasses and chocolate, this sipper will keep you warm long after the campfire has died out.