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posted: 7/4/2012 5:31 AM

Craft brews part of American melting pot experience

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  • Honker's Ale goes well with a variety of picnic foods.

    Honker's Ale goes well with a variety of picnic foods.
    Courtesy of Goose Island

By Greg Kitsock
Special to The Washington Post

Craft brewing is a melting pot; the best beers borrow from German, English and Belgian traditions while managing to be American originals. These five brews, listed in order from lighter to more assertive, would be a welcome addition to any picnic or outdoor feast.

Samuel Adams Porch Rocker. An American take on a German "radler" (a blend of lager and lemonade), this summer release combines the tartness of pureed lemon with the crisp maltiness of a Bavarian-type Helles beer. Alcohol: 4.5 percent by volume.

Flying Dog Underdog Atlantic Lager. Brewed with a little wheat and rye, this bready lager with a light citrusy-grassy hop character comes in easy-to-tote cans as well as bottles. Pair with summer salads or seafood. Alcohol: 4.7 percent.

Goose Island Honker's Ale. This well-balanced English-style bitter, with notes of toast and toffee, is very drinkable at only 4.2 percent alcohol. Goes with burgers, chicken, fish and chips.

New Belgium La Folie. Splurge on a 22-ounce bomber bottle of this Belgian-style brown ale in the Rodenbach mold; it's piercingly sour and refreshing, with earthy and tannic notes from aging in French oak barrels. A great match with pork, lamb or duck or with soft cheeses. Alcohol: 6 percent.

Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale. This complex, aromatic, dry-hopped amber ale, with plenty of caramel malt for balance, is assertive enough to stand up to raw onions, chili and other spicy foods. Alcohol: 6 percent.

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