When you were a child, you probably spent most of your summer days outside. If you were like us, you put your Nintendo away until the fall (or a rainy day) and headed out into a day filled with whiffle ball, tag, and various yard games. You probably didn’t even come home until your mom called you in for dinner, tired and sunburned. Those were the days, right? But, as you got older, life got in the way and you couldn’t spend your days drinking Slurpees and playing spud with your friends. You went out and got a mortgage, and, for some terrible reason, you had to get a job and earn a living.
Luckily, every now and then, you are treated to a magical holiday where you’re not only encouraged to skip work, but you’re even told to go to a party. If you’re really lucky, you might get a chance to grab hold of some of your missed youth and play some classic yard games. And one bonus about being an adult is that you can drink beer while you play. That’s why we decided to pair our favorite yard games with some of your favorite beers. Give these pairings a try at your Memorial Day party and get this summer started off right.
If you don’t know what “washers” is, you’re really missing out. This simple game consists of 2 to 4 players (only 2 at a time though) attempting to throw washers (or discs similar to washers) into a box that has a cup in the middle of it. Players get 1 point if their washer lands in the box and 3 points if it goes into the center cup. It’s not rocket science, but it’s hard to do. It gets really competitive.
And since players technically only need one hand to play, the other hand can hold a frosty brew like Anderson Valley Summer Solstice. This sweet, creamy, malty brew is perfect for yard games and good times.
Kan Jam was first popularized in Western New York before the rest of the country began playing it in the early oughts. The point of the game is to score points by throwing a frisbee while your teammate deflects it into a plastic can. You can’t technically have a beer while playing because this one is fairly physical (and you do not want to drop your drink). So, you’ll have to enjoy a beer between games.
The perfect beer for this is a Founders All Day IPA. It’s an easy drinking, well-balanced session ale that you can drink quickly while catching your breath. You’re bound to play more than one game and this is a beer that you can have a few of without totally losing all of your sweet frisbee skills.
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Croquet is a gentleman’s game. While playing, you almost feel underdressed if you aren’t wearing a 3-piece suit. The object of the game is to hit a ball (using a croquet mallet) through a series of wickets. Since you’re likely to spend much of the game waiting for your friends to take their turns, you have a lot of free time to drink beer.
A game of such prestige deserves a beer of equal clout. That’s why it’s perfectly paired with Stone Arrogant Bastard. Croquet comes with an air of arrogance making this 7.2 percent strong ale the best accompaniment. Perfect for one-upping your buddies with your recent yacht purchase (Sure, you don’t technically have a yacht, but you’ve been on a boat before. Same thing).
Ladderball is an easy and fun yard game. It consists of 1 on 1 or 2 on 2 play. To score points, players throw bolas onto ladders a designated distance away from them. The ladders have three levels. The bottom rung is 1 point, the middle is 2, and the top is 3. It seems complicated, but it’s really not. The only question you’ll have is what beer to pair with it.
We suggest Brooklyn Bel Air Sour, a refreshing combination of sweet citrus with a subtle tart finish. And it’s a great description of all the sour looks that will be on your friends’ faces when you crush them at ladderball.
If you’ve ever been to a tailgate, you’ve probably seen cornhole. This game consists of players throwing beanbags into a raised platform with a hole in the middle. You get points by landing a beanbag on the platform (1 point) or throwing it through the hole (3 points).
You only need one hand to play so your other hand can easily grip an Allagash White. Potentially the greatest summer beer ever, Allagash White is a 5.1 percent wheat beer made with orange peel and coriander. A sip of Allagash will make you feel like the sun is hitting your shoulders even if your Memorial Day is cloudy and cold.
As yard games go, it doesn’t get much easier than bocce. The object of this classic game is to throw a white ball (called the pallino) and then take turns throwing (or rolling ) other balls in an attempt to get as close as possible to the pallino. Since you need one hand to throw and the other to hold your other balls, this game requires you to use two hands.
But, that shouldn’t stop you from placing your Sixpoint Jammer onto the grass. You won’t want any balls to knock over this sweet and tart, citrus-fueled gose though. So guard it with your life and scream at anyone who walks too close. You’ll be the life of the party in no time.
Lawn darts aren’t as fun as they used to be. That’s because the sharp, potentially dangerous dart points were replaced with padded tips. And the potential of losing an eye felt like necessary stakes. But, oh well. It’s still fun to throw these weighted darts across your yard in an attempt to drop them inside a circle to gain points.
Since all you need is one hand to play, your other hand should be tightly holding on to an Upslope Experimental IPA. This 7 percent IPA was recently added as a year-round brew and is great for summer imbibing because of subtle malt sweetness paired with citrus hop-flavor. The high alcohol percentage will bring some sense of danger back to the event. At least, the danger that you could embarrass yourself by calling an ex and professing your love. That’s kind of a stake.
It’s hard to play horseshoes without drinking a beer. This game, that consists of 2 people (or 2 teams of 2) throwing horseshoes at stakes surrounding by sandboxes 40 feet away, is best played on a hot, sunny, summer day.
That day can only be made better by drinking a Two Roads Two Juicy, an 8.2 percent juicy, hazy New England-style IPA that’s full of orange and grapefruit flavors with a subtle malt backbone. It will make your Memorial Day a little hazier and lot more fun.