Angler’s Guide to Beer: 21 Fishing Brews and When to Drink Them

Gayne C. Young has spent a lifetime fishing and field testing different types of beer. In this gallery he matches … Continued

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Earlier this month, we ran a guide to catching monster fish. While this guide was fine on its own, it left out how to properly celebrate your hard-earned trophy catch. After traveling around the country and spending a lifetime investigating different species of beer, I’ve put together this angler’s guide to beer. For each major gamefish species I’ve picked a prime location and a fitting beer to enjoy after a hard day on the water.
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Largemouth Bass Beer: Berserker Imperial Stout Location: California In honor of the world’s latest and arguably most rabid largemouth bass fishing fans in Japan, try a Kirin Ichiban. It’s brewed from only malt, hops and water and delivers a crisp, clean taste. Not interested? Then go with Midnight Sun Brewing Company’s Berserker Imperial Stout. It offers full flavor with hints of tobacco, dark fruit, and red wine and delivers the kick of almost 13 percent alcohol by volume. It comes from California, where most experts expect the next world record largemouth to live. Bass on!
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Muskie Beer: Leinenkuegel’s Original Location: Wisconsin The Cheese State, home of the best muskie fishing in North America and Leinenkugel’s Original, don’t ya know. Despite a name no one outside the state can pronounce (or at least not this Texan) Leinenkugel’s Original is a crisp, flavorful brew based on an 1867 family recipe. It’s brewed with Pale malts, Cluster hops, and five generations of brewing love, yah. Don’t want to drink something you can’t pronounce? Try a Point Amber Classic. Its “subtle caramel character and reddish-amber hue” is smooth and clean, yah.
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Trout Beer: Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale Location: Michigan Match the regal lifestyle of the trout fisherman with Michigan’s Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale. This intense 7 percent alcohol by volume brew is hopped with Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest. Aromas of grapefruit and pine resin compliment any trout dish but go best with a good cigar. Hemingway grew up catching trout in Michigan, but take a note from Papa and go easy on the bottle.
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Pike Beer: Molson Canadian Location: Ontario Those crazy canucks know their fish and they know their beer. After reeling in a big jackfish up north, toast Mr. Sharptooth McGraw with a Molson’s Canadian. It has the perfect balance of sweetness and hop-based bitterness for a smooth taste. And it has no preservatives! Like you care.
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Redfish Beer: Miller High Life Location: Louisiana Mr. Red is now oil free and ready to be caught, fried, and chomped with a bottle of Abita’s Turbo Dog. This rich body beer has a sweet chocolate, toffee-like flavor that goes great with fried reds. Or better yet, batter your catch with a single bottle of Turbo and spend your savings on Miller High Life. This champagne of beers is a Cajun favorite. It’s smooth and light – a necessity in our nation’s most humid state.
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Shark Beer: Rhode Island’s Narragansett Location: Atlantic shore Quint famously pounded Rhode Island’s Narragansett in “Jaws.” It’s a real man’s brew for hard fishing, can crushing, U.S.S. Indianapolis survivors. Not near Rhode Island or a vet of World War II? Try another full-bodied real man’s brew: Pabst Blue Ribbon. This American classic – like Quint – is medium-bodied with a “dusting” of malts hops and malts. Pull in a maneater and crush the can!
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Striped bass Beer: Budweiser Location: Tennessee The king of bass calls for the king of beers. First crafted by Adolphus Busch in 1876, Budweiser is the quintessential American draft. Barley malt, rice, hops, yeast, and water combine to make a brew that goes down smooth and fresh. Like your stripers with a little more southern hospitality? Try Tennessee’s Yazoo Brew’s Sue. Its smoky flavor comes from barley malts smoked with cherry wood.
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Alligator Gar Beer: Abita’s Golden Location: Louisiana With longtime Louisiana favorites Dixie and Jax all but a memory, anglers after North America’s original river monsters should try Abita’s Golden or Light. Both are based on German lagers, are crafted from Abita Spring water and offer a full body flavor that satisfies after a hard day of wrestling river sharks on the bayou. Another local favorite is Milwaukee’s Best Light. Drink a beast after reeling in a beast!
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Tuna Beer: Dos Equis Lager Location: California to Mexico Although the Japanese will be throwing money at you when you pull in a big kahuna tuna, avoid beers from the Far East. Instead, stick with the tried and true beer for tuna anglers south of the border: Dos Equis Lager. It is Mexican beer perfection and I won’t waste time describing the flavor – I’m too busy drinking one. And I didn’t just catch a tuna. Remember, stay thirsty my friends!
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Blue Catfish Beer: British Brown Ale Location: Virginia’s James River After dealing with a big-bodied whisker fish, blue cat fighters should replenish with a full-bodied beer. Try Legend Brewing’s British Brown Ale from Richmond. It’s a rich brew with flavors of sweet caramel, toasted nuts, coffee, and molasses. Think of it as beer Gatorade! It puts back in what you take out. Looking for something not so heavy? Try Legend’s Pilsner.
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Walleye Beer: Grain Belt Location: Minnesota Don’t bring a pop to a walleye battle and don’t settle on an average beer to celebrate its catch. Try Minnesota’s Grain Belt Premium. It has a 100-year history of crisp, unique flavor. Watch it though. If you drink to many you might go ooompfah on the ice there.
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Salmon Beer: Alaskan Amber Location: Alaska Pulling in the red meat builds a powerful thirst. Quench it with one of the Last Frontier’s two favorite brews. First up is Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Alaskan Amber. Its cold fermentation (how else would they ferment it in Alaska?) takes a long time thus insuring richer flavors and an overall smoothness. Silver Gulch Brewing and Bottling Co.’s Coldfoot Pilsner Lager is crisp and clean thanks to German and Czech varietals. Enjoy a few of Alaska’s best while your salmon smokes.
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Carp Beer: Moose Drool Location: Montana Here, here. Chaps on the other side of the pond – where carp fishing’s a religion – imbibe Carling Chrome or Carlsberg. But in Montana carp country, anglers lap up Big Sky Brew’s Moose Drool. This chocolate colored malty brew has a spicy hop taste that goes great with…well, I wouldn’t say carp because I wouldn’t ruin a great beer putting it next to a plate of fried mud sucker. Enjoy the beer – catch and release the fish.
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Crappie Beer: Natural Light Location: Alabama Hot crappie action in the hot South calls for an easy-to-slam cold one. Look no further than Natural Light. At under $5 for a six pack (that makes it less than a dollar a can, Alabama) this straw yell’a-colored beer goes perfect with fried fish, corn dogs and more Natty Light.
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Flathead Catfish Beer: Lone Star Where: North Texas This is a tough one to call. Shiner’s new Wild Hare is worth drinking for its hilarious semi-regional television commercials alone. Advertisements aside, Wild Hare is extremely satisfying. However, old school flathead fishermen – or anyone over the age of 30 – will most likely opt instead for Lone Star or Lone Star Light. After all, they’re the national beers of Texas!
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Lake Trout Beer: Labatt Blue Location: Lake Ontario Take off to the Great White North for lake trout and a bottle of Labatt Blue! This refreshing Czech Republic born pilsner has been a favorite of lake trout anglers and beer drinkers alike since 1842. For something a little more localized, try Great Lakes Brewery’s Devil’s Pale Ale. This hearty malt has a rich mahogany color (colour for the locals) reminiscent of the dark lake bottoms that lake trout frequent. Saying “eh” after drinking is optional.
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Marlin Beer: Sol Location: Mexico This is my kind of fishing; the open ocean, warm weather, and cold Mexican cervezas. Toast your first or latest marlin with an ice cold Sol. First brewed by a German brewmaster in 1899, Sol has a crisp lemony taste that goes perfect with a day of big-game fishing under the sun. Or try Cerveza Pacifico Clara. This light pilsner, also first brewed by Germans (but in 1900), has a slightly stronger finish than Sol but is just as refreshing.
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Paddlefish Beer: Miller Lite Location: Oklahoma Do like your prey and open your mouth wide and pour. And nothing pours easier than a cold Miller Lite. Rather gulp than pour? Try Oklahoma’s own Choc Beer’s Signature Smoked Porter. It has a smoky flavor accentuated by hints of bacon. It’s like a camp out in your mouth.
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Sturgeon Beer: Rasberry Russian Imperial Stout Location: Columbia River Tackling fish that can grow to the size of a female polar bear that just ate a seal (a cute baby one at that PETA!) builds a stout thirst. Quench it with one of Portland, Oregon’s best: Windmer Brother’s Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout ’12. This seasonal delight is a purplish-brown brew with tastes of raspberry and chocolate. Want something thicker and darker? Try Windmer’s Pitch Black IPA, a midnight-black, scary looking brew full of toasty flavor and a hint of citrus.
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Swordfish Beer: Wachusett Brewery’s Country Pale Ale Location: Massachusetts The sixth state’s love and determination for swordfish was forever immortalized in the book and subsequent film The Perfect Storm. Do those lost swordfishermen right after your big catch – down Wachusett Brewery’s Country Pale Ale. An honorable mention goes to other Mass favorites, Sam Adams and Harpoon.
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Snakehead Beer: Coors Light Location: Maryland There are two ways to go with snakehead in Maryland. If you’re successful, toast your catch with a good ol’ Coors. A favorite of the South for many a year, this “Banquet Beer” is just right after a hard day of fighting borderline-psychotic invasive fish. Got bit instead? You better reach for Samuel Adams Triple Bock. The deep flavor will appease your taste buds while the nearly 17.5 percent alcohol by volume might help kill any infection.

Gayne C. Young has spent a lifetime fishing and field testing different types of beer. In this gallery he matches 21 gamefish with a fitting brew.