Beer is a big part of the Fourth of July, what with the summer heat and the heat of the barbecue (grill and food). While there are no shortage of selections on the shelves, some of the best, most memorable and most appropriate beers for the Fourth are made right here in Connecticut. The Nutmeg State is famed for its independent breweries, and the craft beers they make and sell are unique, fresh and perfect for Independence Day meals, celebrations and get-togethers. Here are just five of the top craft beers made in Connecticut that can make the Fourth an even more special holiday.

Disco Boy Pale Ale
Cambridge House Brew Pub
357 Salmon Brook St.
Granby, CT 06035
(860) 653-2739

As their website proudly notes, the Cambridge House Brew Pub’s web address is “dot beer, not dot com,” and it is not only that address that makes this craft brewery or its beers unique. Disco Boy Pale Ale, for example, is a hybrid of classic American and British beers — and what better way to mark the birth of one nation while still paying homage to its mother country? Cambridge House has a fine collection of other American, British and German-style beers (after all, the Hessians who fought for the British in the War of Independence were Germans), including Moonbeam Stout, Pigskin Brown and Rock Bock, respectively.

Watermelon Ale
Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
16 Tobey Road
Bloomfield, CT 06002
(860) 342-2111

Although it is called “Watermelon Ale,” the Thomas Hooker Brewing Company’s offering of that name is called such to describe its light, crisp, refreshing taste rather than due to the flavoring that has been added to this otherwise classic summer ale. Available only from April through August, Watermelon Ale is intended to be their warm-weather thirst quencher, and as such is perfect for an Independence Day barbecue. As a first beer of the day to chase away the summer heat, Watermelon Ale is quite nice and provides a light start for a day and night where craft beer lovers can go on to enjoy the heavier, more full-bodied flavor of Thomas Hooker’s Blonde Ale, Irish Red or Imperial Stout.

American Brown Ale
Black Hog Brewing Company
115 Hurley Road
Oxford, CT 06478
(203) 262-6075

Few beers are more American than Black Hog Brewing Company’s American Brown Ale, a solid, award-winning beer that goes very well with hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, chicken or whatever else the cook throws on the grill for a Fourth of July cookout. Black Hog has made a name for itself with such delightfully titled beers as “Easy Rye Da,” “Ginja’ Ninja,” and a whole line of beers in its “Disco Pig” brand. The Oxford, Connecticut brewry is headed by a chemical engineer, Tyler Jones, who decided to use his education and talents to create some of the most unusual and whimsically named beers in the region.

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Dire Chincilla Imperial Ale
Firefly Hollow Brewing Company
139 Center St.
Bristol, CT 06010
(860) 845-8977

The “conglomerate of creative minds” as their web site refers to the team of crafters who make the beer for the Firefly Hollow Brewing Company, have no shortage of offerings, any of which would be welcome at a July Fourth gathering. Their Dire Chincilla Imperial Ale, however, might be the most appropriate for the holiday; for with a 9.8 ABV it packs more of a punch than most of the fireworks that will fill the sky with brilliant patterns once the sun sets.

Willibrew Certified Gold
The Willimantic Brewing Company
967 Main St.
Willimantic, CT 06226
(860) 423-6777

The Willimantic Brewing Company is one of the best known of Connecticut’s many craft breweries, thanks largely to its talented master brewer, David Wollner. His Scotch Tapped, Mail Carrier Maybock and Riverfest Red Ale are highly regarded by those who know, love and appreciate a masterfully brewed craft beer. For the Fourth, however, while any of these or the other ten beers he makes would be well-received by guests, the Certified Gold is perhaps the best for a long holiday. At only 4.7 APV, it is the kind of beer that those who would rather fill up on food than beer can enjoy with their meal, and with fewer consequences than those that go with drinking beers higher in alcoholic content.

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Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at