A stretch beer is an important weapon in any beer nerd’s arsenal. It’s the brew you buy to make the good stuff “stretch” a little bit further, saving you money and preserving your fancier beers for when you can really enjoy them.
Stretch Beer Defined
Stretch beers usually have the following attributes:
- They are delicious, but not too challenging on the palate, like a pale ale, a lager, a nut brown or even a mild stout.
- They are fairly affordable, coming in at or under $1.50 for 12 ounces. Many are even less expensive. Some are even homebrewed.
- They usually have a lower ABV, but not necessarily as low as a “session beer.” Most of mine are in the 7% range.
- They are plentiful at your local beer store, so you don’t the feel pressure that comes with rare or seasonal beers.
I mix it up a bit with my stretch beers, but more often than not I have some cans of Dale’s Pale Ale hanging around the beer fridge, ready to fill in the gaps between the big boys. I’ll also mix in some Victory Prima Pils and the occasional Victory Lager, especially in the warmer months.
Perfect Uses for a Stretch Beer
Stretch beers are perfect for several occasions, especially when you want a beer, but aren’t in the mood for anything in particular. Why waste expensive beers on your uninspired palate?
They are also great for buying time. For instance, maybe I’m watching the early football game on Sunday waiting for the later game to start (the one I really want to see). I’m saving the big guns for later, but I want a beer now. What do I reach for? A stretch beer.
Or I’ve had a bomber of something awesome and still want more beer, but don’t want to be batting cleanup with something special – that’d be a waste. Or maybe I don’t want another 22 ounces of beer, but 12 would be just right. In both cases, the stretch beer is the answer.
Stretch beers can also keep company out of the truly good stuff if they’re not really into craft beers, but want to try something “new” from your fridge.
As you can see, the stretch beer is the unsung hero of beer geekdom, the spackle that holds a beer collection together. Without them, many fine beers (and dollars) would be wasted on times that call for something serviceable, but not special.
A special thanks to Daniel S on Facebook for making me realize how important stretch beers are. His is Moosehead, by the way, which I think is a fine choice!
What about you? What’s your stretch beer?