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When I was little I once saw a Family Circus cartoon in which the father, on Independence Day, thanked China for their fireworks, Germany for their picnic of sausages and coleslaw, and so on. It was about as funny as, well, Family Circus — but the message stuck with me.

So on that note, I remind those of you stuck in the imports section of your beer store that America is home to the world’s most diverse beer selection, including many of the finest and certainly the freshest. This Independence Day weekend (I’m starting mine today), buy American beer. If you have a friend who thinks Stella Artois is the gods’ gift to Belgium, send ’em this way for a list of proper American substitutes.

  • Heineken (or Stella Artois) — Of the imports on this list, Heiney’s the one I’m least offended to get for free at a party. But it’s still just the Budweiser of Europe. If crisp, clean lagers are your thing (and in July, they’re certainly mine), try Stoudt’s Gold Lager or Sierra Nevada Summerfest.

  • Guinness — Stout in the summertime is a bold move anyway, so go whole hog with Stone Imperial Russian Stout, a black hole of a beast. For something on the sweet side, Founders Porter is possibly the best American porter I’ve ever tasted, with huge chocolatey flavors and a hint of roastiness to balance.
  • Corona — Sigh. White wine, I guess. I hear they sell that stuff in juice boxes now.
  • Newcastle or Amstel Light — Brown ales, like the sweet Ellie’s Brown Ale from Avery, are perfect for introducing newcomers to good craft beer. For something a bit hoppier, I turn to Troegs Hopback Amber Ale again and again.
  • Chimay (and Belgians in general) — Of course, there are imports out there that don’t come from giant conglomerates and even taste like beer. And guess what? America’s got that style down. Jolly Pumpkin excels in many Belgian styles, with beers like their Bam Biere saison. (Check De Vinos in Adams Morgan.) For some that are more widely available, Brooklyn Local 1 and Allagash Confluence are two complex Belgian-style ales made just up the East Coast.

That’s just a quick list. What are y’all drinking this coming weekend? Any other imports you’d like a recommendation on? Fill up that there comments section, and I’ll get right back at you.

Photo by cristinabe via Flick, Creative Commons Attribution License