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In the Spirit: Great Things Come in Small Packages

When you find yourself spending more time outside and floating around a pool, you know summer is here in Greenbrier Valley.  When you go to relax poolside the easiest thing to do grab is some basic domestic beer.  These inexpensive beers can be satisfying on a hot summer day, yet leave much to be desired when it comes to flavor and variety.  Times have changed, thanks to many craft breweries and other alcoholic beverage producers who have moved away from glass bottles in favor of aluminum cans as their vessel of choice

In the past, beer was mass produced and canned to keep production costs lower but with that lower cost usually came a lower quality and pervasive metallic flavoring.  Now, nearly all high-end can producers on the market use a polymer coating on the inside of the can so that metallic flavor stays with the can and doesn’t affect the product inside.  Ever wonder why it is more difficult to crush a craft beer can as opposed to an inexpensive domestic can? Now you know! It’s the additional rigidity from the polymer coating.  Another benefit to buying cans is how quickly they cool down.  Throw some cans in an ice cooler and by the time you drive from the package store to your destination, enough time will have passed for the cans to cool down enough to crack one open while you wrestle with inflating that giant swan floatie.

In Greenbrier Valley, we have one of these fantastic brews at our fingertips. Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company has been crafting their products since 2014 and canning it since early 2015.  Although a baby in terms of the craft breweries segment, GVBC is putting out the type of product that challenges many of these established breweries, and they are still improving.  One of their flagship beers called Zona’s Revenge (named after the Greenbrier Ghost) is just begging to float around the pool with you.  This newer flagship beer is a Belgian style wheat beer with hints of orange zest.  If you loved the Lilly Dipper two summers ago you will find that Zona’s Revenge tastes familiar, because it happens to be the same recipe.  One of the newest brews produced at GVBC is the Festivale Kolsch, a German-style top-fermented beer that is clean, crisp, and perfect for summer.  This one, as the other seasonal beers before it, will surely be a hit all summer long.

In addition to beer, wine and pre-mixed cocktails are also seeing an uptick in business.  Wine brands like Underwood and Francis Coppola’s Sofia are asserting their presence by allowing wine lovers to indulge in a glass of wine without carrying around the cork screw and glasses.  The Sofia Blanc de Blanc is a sparkling wine available in a can, made out of mostly pinot blanc with a little riesling and muscat to provide a touch of sweetness balancing out that refreshing burst of acidity.  There is also a brut rose now available in a can as well, which is made out of pinot noir and chardonnay.  Underwood is another option you can find that is produced in Oregon, with seven products under their label ranging from still to sparkling, dry to sweet; they are making a product for all wine drinkers.  While not available in West Virginia as of now, the Underwood cans are well worth the quick drive into Virginia to pick up for your next pool party.

Premade cocktails are also available in a can.  Locally, you may find a product to get you by in a pinch at the gas station, but be on the lookout for brands like Novo and Cutwater who are producing canned cocktails that will make your favorite bartender jealous.  These canned cocktails can be found nearby in North Carolina and Ohio but with their growing popularity, it will only be a matter of time before you can find them in a store near you.   

The sun is out, the inflatables are coasting through the pool and now you are prepared with a number of choices for stocking your cooler throughout the summer.

– Ginger LaSalle, Hashtag #102. June 2018.

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HashtagWV Art & Entertainment is a high-quality print and digital multimedia platform for all things West Virginia and the greater Appalachian region. The editorial focus is local music, unique shopping, the arts, events, theatre, and food and drinks.