Build a collection of brews for a happy, hoppy summer party.
By Tim Chilcote
Are you really living if you don’t have a beer fridge in your garage? Getting under the hood of an old car, hosting a party, tinkering on a woodworking project, hiding from the world -- the garage is a classic watering hole and the original (and functional) man cave or den.
And while Snoop and Dre’s stacked 40s were an inspiration for a generation, beer has evolved since Nuthin but a G Thang. It’s high time we upped our fridge game, and our ABV. Here’s how to keep your garage -- and your house guests -- properly in the suds.
Top Shelf: Premium And Tall Beers
Keep the good stuff like KBS and HopSlam up top. The eye-catching, palate-pleasing varieties belong front-and-center for guests of honor or beer geeks, and it’s easy enough to say “hands off the top shelf” for folks who might otherwise accidentally grab a five dollar beer without knowing anything about “fancy” microbrews. Depending on how your shelves are organized, the top shelf can also be a good place to store tall bottles or growlers from your local brewery.
Middle Shelf: Staples And Favorites
Here’s where you keep the timeless go-to beers for a summer party. The middle shelf is home to tall boys of Two Hearted and Oberon, and other highly drinkable beers like Perrin Black, Grand Rabbits from Black Rocks or Keweenaw Brewing Pick Axe Blonde. The middle shelf is the kick-off to the party, and also the sneaky shelf, where the beers go down easy. Sometimes too easy. Proceed with caution … or not.
Lower Shelf: Get After It Beers
When it’s time to dig into a summer Sunday, for a barbecue or neighborhood block party, you need beers you can plow through. Founder’s Solid Gold is the perfect micro-balance here, where guests who love “normal” beers can come together with the microbrew crowd to blow the foam off a few -- and then a few more. And for those really deep, get-after-it sessions, skip the “session” beers and make sure you’re stocked with Labatt or Stroh’s … or Grandpa’s Hamm’s, if you please.
The Door: Misfit Toys
Here’s where you store your one-offs, odd ducks, leftovers and unique brews. In Michigan, bottles from Short’s Brewing often make their way to my door. After a motley crew of guests leaves behind the remains of their six-packs, my beer fridge is conveniently seeded for the next party. Door beers should be just strange enough that you have to at least try one. The door is the place for both adventurous beer drinkers and non-beer drinkers who’d maybe give “something fruity” a chance.
The Crisper: The Good Stuff
The crisper is your beer vault. Hide your best, most coveted stuff from the uninitiated, and amaze friends with the glow of a deuce of Canadian Breakfast Stout. If you start on the middle shelf before moving onto the really good stuff, you might even forget what you hid from yourself in the crisper. Surprise, it’s a gift from you!
The Exterior: Stickers And Magnets
My house is on a fly-fishing stream, and the garage is a place for hanging waders, organizing fly boxes and talking brook trout. Thus, the fridge is adorned with fishing and beer stickers. You don’t have to go that route. Auto stickers if it suits your gearhead garage aesthetic, powertool magnets, a tasteful calendar. You do you.
Alternatives And Whatabouts: Final Considerations
Yes, a kegerator is great. More power to you if you decide to go that route. You won’t make enemies. Frosty mugs in the freezer. Sure, if that's your thing. Bottle opener on the wall. You betcha. A selection of koozies from local dive bars. A must.
Hey, you only have Michigan beer in your fridge? I know. I live in Michigan and we have great beer. Substitute where applicable. These are just suggestions.
But… but… actually, you should cellar KBS and… Let me stop you there. Don’t. Cellar. Beer. Keep it cold and drink it soon.
After all, what's the point of having beer if not to drink it? And what's the point of having a garage if not to drink beer IN it? Cheers to another summer in the garage.
The views expressed here are Tim's own. You can find more of them on Twitter (@TimChicote) along with his opinions on everything else, including his favorite subject, the great state of Michigan.