One other comment, in the spirit of patriotism: I attempted to provide my 4th of July house guests with a sampling of the “Top 10 Beers for Patriotic Drinkers.” I got the idea from Draft magazine — one of my favorite indulgences and a kegful of great brews news, reviews, and food-pairing ideas. I won’t name all 10 of the beers that made the editors cheer (you have to get the July/August issue for that) but suffice it to say there were some “regionality” issues involved in the picks. In fact, I could find fewer than half of the suggestions locally. Although I was disappointed I couldn’t show my Merkin pride by handing out bottles of the #10 choice, Ale to the Chief, from Avery Brewing Co., or the deliciously clever #5, Bitter American, from 21st Amendment Brewery, I chose to go with an all-ales offering: Anchor’s Liberty Ale, Samuel Adams Boston Ale, and Stoudt’s American Pale Ale.
How’d they do? Did they make their countryman proud? Absolutely. The Liberty, a stalwart for me (and perhaps the most patriotic-sounding of the bunch), was in a way the least exciting. Frankly, it’s always great, and goes well with anything. The Boston Ale was also equally terrific but, at the same time, too familiar. However, the Stoudt’s ale was a welcome surprise, like fireworks. Its crisp and malty sweetness stood up well to the salty, brusque bratwursts I grilled; mingled nicely with the sharp sauerkraut and mustard topping; and did a little tango on the tongue with my Mom’s tangy baked beans. The Liberty, with its champagne-like bubbles, held up better than the others to the sour-cream based potato salad, and I would probably pick the Sam Adams if the grilled selection was limited to hot dogs (luckily it was not). But the Stoudt’s, with its distinctive tie-dye American flag on the label, was the true patriot of the day, and I highly recommend it.