Cracking open a Bud Light bottle is a lot like stepping into a pair of old slippers. They’re comfy and familiar, but kind of stink. You wouldn’t bring them out around company. While domestics serve their purpose, microbreweries have improved upon cheap beer’s blueprints, creating remarkable beers that are still light, approachable and affordable. That said, they’re not always easy to find. When the wall of craft beer towers like the library of Babel, it can feel like a safer bet to grab that six-pack of Blue Moon. Old habits die hard, but here are some suggestions from around Michigan to ease the transition from macro to micro.
Sip: Brewery Vivant’s Farmhand
OR: Arcadia Brewing Co.’s God Save the Pils
It all comes down to the nose. Where Heineken smells like a wombat dipped in a bird bath, Farmhand retains the funk with none of the skunk. Complex esters suggest flavors of white grape and apple, but they’re subtle enough to enjoy without a cicerone’s tasting notes. Plus, the story behind the beer is awesome. French farmers used to feed this style to laborers, back when beer was safer to drink than water — back when drinking on the job was cool.
Skip: Leinenkugel Summer/Berry Shandy
Sip: Short’s Brewing Co.’s Soft Parade Shandy
OR: Saugatuck Brewing Co.’s Blueberry Lemonade Shandy
In this life fraught with deception, it’s natural to crave something real. Short’s knows. So, they packed Soft Parade Shandy to the gills with real berries of the blue, black, rasp and straw variety. Local lemonade is the kicker in this can of wholesome, refreshing shandy. In comparison, Leinenkugel’s shandies taste like sucking on 3-D-printed fruit.
Sip: Brew Detroit’s Cervesa Delray
OR: Griffin Claw’s El Ligero
Bottle the contents of a wrung-out a beach towel, let it ferment, and you’ve got yourself some bootleg Corona. Fortunately, Brew Detroit has crafted an alternative to satisfy those with a Mexican lager itch. Ultra crisp and bright, a squeeze of lime seems unnecessary. The malt flavors are delicious, wavering between barley and Corn Pops. It’s clear why Cervesa Delray took high honors at the Great American Beer Fest last year.
Sip: Arbor Brewing Company’s Faircy’s Irish Stout
OR: Short’s Brewing Co.’s Uncle Steve’s
For decades, Guinness has monopolized the Irish Stout game thanks to brand recognition and unparalleled gluggabillity — on nitro, it goes down faster than a glass of chocolate milk. While Guinness is by no means offensive, we can do better. Give Arbor Brewing’s rendition of the style a whirl. Creamy coffee notes remind the palate of a cafe latte and the mouthfeel bristles with more body than its competition. Faircy’s is rich, but doesn’t bog down the stomach. Blarney! It even has an Irish name.
Skip: Bud Light
Sip: Odd Side Ale’s Beer Me
OR: Founders Brewing’s Solid Gold
For as much as beer nerds rag on it, Bud Light remains the quintessential American lager. It’s the sweet corn nectar Uncle Sam would choose as he drops the A-bomb. Even so, Odd Side’s Beer Me gives Bud a run for its money with an adjunct grain bill that could fool the staunchest marco drinker. Also, just look at the can. There’s a screaming eagle stretching across the aluminum with stars and stripes emblazoned on its wings. Doesn’t get any more U.S.A., baby.
Skip: Blue Moon Belgian White
Sip: Arcadia Ale’s Whitsun
OR: Bell’s Brewery’s Oberon
Blue Moon is known for its distinct soapy quality, which is fine if you’ve some said bad words and need to wash your mouth out. However, if you’re looking for a quality citrus-forward wheat beer, Arcadia Ale’s Whitsun is an effervescent burst of orange, coriander and more orange. It’s a burst of unfiltered summer in a bottle.