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Craft Beer Experts Name The Best ‘Yard Games’ Beers & Which Games To Pair Them With

We like to take things a little slower during the summer months. Sure, we still have to work. But there’s something about the weather in August (and even into September!) that makes us want to take it easy. Think BBQs and bocce, lawn darts, badminton, or horseshoes.

Yard games are the best, especially in summer and especially when you add beer. Do you really want to play a whole game of croquet if you don’t have an IPA in your hand? Is it really a game of bocce if you don’t toast a few crispy pilsners before?

Since we know beer and yard games are a perfect summer match, it’s time to find the right beers for your backyard shenanigans. To do that, we went to the professionals for help. We asked a few well-known brewers and craft beer experts to tell us their favorite beers to pair with yard games — check their answers below!

North Coast Scrimshaw

North Coast Scrimshaw
North Coast

Eric Espinoza, bartender at Signia by Hilton in San Jose, California

ABV: 4.5%

Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

North Coast Brewing Scrimshaw. This pilsner is my go-to for most days, but especially outdoor games and gatherings. It’s not too hard to track down, but significantly better than most options people would usually reach for. It’s so easy and ultra-crisp, but still bolder than most pilsners people bring.

Is a “yard games beer” the same as a comfort beer? If so, this is probably the one.

Best paired with:

A light, easy-drinking pilsner pairs well with a light, simple game of ladder ball — where you throw balls attached to nylon ropes a ladder and get different points depending on where they land.

Cigar City Jai Alai

Cigar City Jai Alai
Cigar City

Marshall Hendrickson, co-founder and head of operations at Veza Sur Brewing Co. in Miami

ABV: 7.5%

Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Cigar City Jai Alai IPA is hard to beat on a hot summer day. Personally, I prefer to drink stronger beers when I’m playing yard games to spice things up a bit. I love Jai Alai IPA. It’s a Florida classic, it’s a well-balanced IPA full of flavor, and it definitely packs a punch. It’s a great beer for bocce, lawn darts, and even cricket.

Best paired with:

A bold, slightly spicy, piney, citrus-filled IPA like Jai Alai is a great accompaniment to a game of backyard bocce (both nuanced, but both solid, too!). Use one hand to throw the heavy balls and the other to slowly sip this delicious beer.

Liability Brewing Feral Garden Gnome

Liability Brewing Feral Garden Gnome
Liability Brewing

Eric Boice, senior head brewer at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Atlanta

ABV: 6.7%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Liability Brewing’s Feral Garden Gnome because of huge notes of banana bread, clove, pear, honey, and white pepper. It’s extremely drinkable despite its 6.7% ABV; which is just high enough to keep the game interesting, even if you’re losing.

Best paired with:

A complex, flavorful Belgian-style blonde ale doesn’t belong with just any yard game. A fancy, old-world style beer like this belongs with a game of classy, classic croquet.

Berryessa Separation Anxiety

Berryessa Separation Anxiety
Berryessa

Jeremy Marshall, brewmaster at Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma, California

ABV: 6.5%

Average Price: $11.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Summer yard games beer generally means something above a session beer, but below a double. And yes, I like IPAs —so this will be an IPA. Separation Anxiety by Berryessa Brewing is the perfect 6% ABV in-betweener that will just possibly improve your corn hole toss, but not get you tossed. The brewer is also a former “Yakiman” so he has those special relationships with the hop farmers. That means Separation and also all of Berryessa’s IPAs will feature a perfect balance of all the finest aromas the Yakima valley has to offer. The separation will kick in when you finish the last one.

Best paired with:

This beer is hoppy, fruity, and fun. It’s a great accompaniment to an equally fun yard game like spike ball. Take a nice gulp in between the high-stakes action.

Zero Gravity Mclighty’s Lager

Zero Gravity Mclighty’s Lager
Zero Gravity

Matt Canning, assistant manager at Hotel Vermont in Burlington, Vermont

ABV: 3.2%

Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Zero Gravity McLighty’s: The King of (Vermont) Beers. At 3.2% this light lager has few constraints, drink early and often. There might be no better beer to pair with a summer afternoon spent playing corn hole or horseshoes.

Best paired with:

It’s no secret that horseshoes is the type of yard game your dad or grandpa enjoys. That means you should pair it with a beer they’d also like. Zero Gravity Mclighty’s Light Lager is the throwback they can get behind.

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red
New Glarus

Courtney Servaes, owner of Servaes Brewing Company in Shawnee, Kansas

ABV: 4%

Average Price: $10.99 for a four-pack

Why This Beer?

Few beers have persisted in my life over the course of ten years. I love trying new beer, so I rarely repeat a beer or a brewery when I’m traveling. An exception to that rule is New Glarus Brewing Company in Wisconsin. They have some of the absolute best, fruited beers I have ever had in my life. From their Raspberry Tart to Serendipity, their sours would be perfect to open while hosting friends. My favorite of their fruit beers is the Wisconsin Belgian Red which features an insane amount of Montmorency cherries. It is decadent yet easy to drink and the ruby red color of the beer will look absolutely stunning in the sunlight while you play yard games.

Best paired with:

If you’re drinking a New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red it’s likely later in the day and you’re looking to relax. That’s why it’s a great sipper for a giant wood Jenga-type game.

Genesee Cream Ale

Genesee Cream Ale
Genesee

Justin Tisdale, head brewer at Rejects Brewing Co. in Middletown, Rhode Island

ABV: 5.1%

Average Price: $5.99 for a six-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Everyone knows a good game of lawn darts can only be paired with another beer that probably should have been banned in the 70s for being too perfect. Genesee Cream Ale will forever hold a place in my heart as a native upstate New Yorker, and a craft beer drinker. Another benchmark example of a style, the corn in the malt bill coupled with the slight spice of the noble hops, gives it a dry profile and ridiculous drinkability factor.

Again, not the answer most craft enthusiasts are looking for, but I would dig my heels in repeatedly to defend the honor of this under-appreciated beer.

Best paired with:

A malty, sweet, easy-drinking beer like Genesee Cream Ale is exactly the type of beer we like to drink while we play corn hole. Low enough in alcohol that we can have a few, but flavorful enough to make us hope the game never ends.

Civil Society Pulp

Civil Society Pulp
Civil Society

Nancy Lopetegui, taproom general manager at Wynwood Brewing in Miami

ABV: 6.3%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Pulp by Civil Society Brewing. An American Wheat Ale stacked with hops and orange notes for days. So juicy and hazy. Perfect quencher after sweating up a storm while you stand around in a yard playing any of your favorite yard games.

Best paired with:

Civil Society Pulp is exactly like the name says. It’s a wheat beer loaded with bold, fresh citrus flavors. It’s a great addition to any game of Kan Jam — the flying disc game that seems to exude sun in the same way the beer does.

Miller High Life

Miller High Life
Miller

Mike Kelly, senior brewer at Harpoon Brewery in Boston

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: $6.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Miller High Life is a great backyard sipper. This beer is easy to enjoy by the dozen on a hot summer day. It’s crisp, easy to drink, and goes down easy while you leisurely toss bocce balls or play lawn darts in the heat of the summer sun.

Best paired with:

There are few beers as refreshing and thirst-quenchingly crisp as a bottle of Miller High Life. It belongs with a classic — try a casual “game” of tossing the frisbee.

Frost Beer Works IPA

Frost Beer Works IPA
Frost Beer

Dan Lipke, head brewer at Clown Shoes Beer in Boston

ABV: 5%

Average Price: Limited Availability

Why This Beer?

Everyone knows you can’t play corn hole unless you have a beer in hand, right? I’d reach for an easy-drinking IPA like Frost Beer Works IPA. Classic hoppy flavor and just 5% so your aim doesn’t get too wild. Pine and dank grapefruit abound, with nice balanced bitterness and fuller a mouthfeel.

Best paired with:

A classic, hoppy, piney, and dank beer belongs as an addition to a game of lawn darts. And since it’s such a traditional, flavorful IPA, it belongs with the classic, steel-tipped version. Although, since it’s hard to find — you can settle for the soft, weighted version.

Coors Banquet Beer

Coors Banquet Beer
Coors

Chris Pinns, tasting room manager at Societe Brewing in San Diego

ABV: 5%

Average Price: $6.99 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Having formerly lived in Colorado, Coors Banquet always had a place in my cooler for a day of yard games. A clean, easy-drinking beer in a small, stubby bottle. A true Rocky Mountain delight that pairs well with bocce, ladder ball, and any other yard game.

Best paired with:

Coors Banquet Beer is the kind of beer you enjoy with a nice, summery meal. It’s also a great accompaniment to giant, ultra-casual round of Connect Four.

Corona Extra

Corona Extra
Corona

Ty Nash, head brewmaster at Little Dry Creek Brewery in Denver, Colorado

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: $8.50 for a six-pack

Why This Beer?

Corona Extra is my go-to. I like it fully loaded with salt and lime. It just seems to me to be the beer of choice for horseshoes or lawn darts. Crisp, refreshing, and goes down easy while you’re challenging your friends to backyard games.

Best paired with:

Corona is a light, crushable beer without much substance. It’s the kind of beer you want in your red Solo cup while you play oversized beer pong.

Old Style Lager

Old Style Lager
Old Style

Emily Kosmal, brewer at Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago

ABV: 4.6%

Average Price: $4.99 for a six-pack of 16-ounce cans

Why This Beer?

Old Style (Classic Lager) is my pick. If you are playing classic Midwest lawn games like bags or lawn darts, you need a classic Midwest beer to hold in your non-gaming hand. Old Style is light on body and ABV. Easy drinking for those long, intense bags tournaments.

Best paired with:

Old Style Lager is cheap, easy-to-drink, and always there. It makes sense to pair it with something completely opposite. That’s why we drink it while we (attempt to) play the once aristocratic institution of badminton.

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