Drink: Captain Lawrence Clearwater Kölsch

The best of America's craft brewers tend to make their mark with big, creative flavors. And Captain Lawrence, the rising star from Westchester, N.Y., that entered the Philadelphia market a couple of years ago is no exception, with brews that range from vividly hoppy beers (Effortless IPA) to bretty sours aged in wine barrels (Rosso e Marrone, now at Monk's) or apple brandy barrels (Golden Delicious, at Cinder), and powerful imperial stouts like Frost Monster (at Alla Spina). But often a lighter, more delicate style will tell you more about the quality of the brewing. There's transparence to a good lager or pilsner, for example, with few distractions to mask any flaws. The Captain's Clearwater Kölsch is a hybrid style that lands between the worlds of fruity ales and crisp lagers. It's fermented cold like a lager but made with ale yeast and a vibrant bouquet of American hops. The result is a beer that's still on the elegant, lighter side - "uncomplicated," one beer pro recently told me. But it's also startlingly fresh and alive, with a cloudy golden hue that's citrusy and piney from Cascade hops, but smartly toned down just enough with floral Crystal hops to keep it in drinkable check. At just around 5 percent alcohol, you'll likely have more than one.

- Craig LaBan

Captain Lawrence Clearwater Kölsch, about $6 a pint at Prohibition Taproom and Cinder; $7 a bottle at Harp & Crown; and retailing for $2.75 a can at Beer Love in Queen Village and $3 a bottle at Bottle Bar East in Fishtown.