When people think about American beer, examples that come to mind are typically the classic American light lagers. And, while a Bud Light is often the image that often comes to mind for many, America’s beer history is much broader and tastier. Here’s a peek into American beer history and some of the styles that got us to where we are now.

American Styles and History: A Quick Overview

With respect to the light(er) beers, America has the Classic American Pilsner (CAP). Between the 1840s and the 1870s, a strong influx of German immigrants traveled to America who brought with them a love for brewing and the expertise to recreate their beloved pilsner. Utilizing six-row barley in combination with corn grits, maize, or rice, these Americans perfected a beer with beautiful straw color and strong head retention. Add some Bohemian hops and you have a refreshing, delicious macro-alternative.

Another great American style to sip on this Fourth of July is the cream ale. Originally created in response to the mainstream light lagers, the cream ale is essentially a lighter-bodied CAP that has been fermented with ale yeast. At usually about 20-30% rice or corn, a cream ale will be light and crisp — great for sippin’ poolside or while you cook off those hotdogs.

The last American style that is great with July 4th cookouts is a California Common or a steam beer. With origins in San Francisco’s lively beginnings, the steam beer was traditionally brewed with a special California lager yeast that allowed for it to perform well in the warmer climate of the West Coast. Six-row barley from Central California and Cluster hops from the Russian River basin rounded out this malty, amber-colored beverage. Today, the malt profile is slightly different, but it still is a truly American style!

Do any of your local NC breweries carry these styles? Go out and try a truly American beer this week, and share a pint and your dollars with our amazing local brewers. They work hard every day to ensure that you have fresh and delicious American beer to drink. That, friends, is definitely something to celebrate. Cheers to July 4th and NC beer!

To find the NC brewery closest to you, check out our member brewery map here.