5 Summer beers you have to try before the season is out
Crisp, refreshing, maybe a bit fruity — summer beers are designed to reflect the flavors of the season. They’re best enjoyed while kicking back outside on a hot day, and the alcohol by volume tends to be lower than the heavier, richer, darker beers that you’ll find on tap during winter. One of the most consistently popular summer beers is Samuel Adams Summer Ale, which was released in 1996. Since then, craft brewers around the country have been creating their own interesting versions of summer beer, which are typically available between April and September. Here are five notable summer beers to keep on your radar as the weather heats up.
- Summer Shandy, Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Wisconsin (4.2% ABV)
A shandy is a wheat beer blended with lemonade — it’s hard to get more refreshing than that —
and Leinenkugel’s version is the most well-known on the market right now. It has a balanced sweet and sour flavor, and it would be ideal for afternoons at the pool. (You can try creating your own shandy by mixing wheat beer with lemonade or another citrus drink, like grapefruit juice!) Food pairings: Burgers, lemon meringue pie, spicy foods and fried foods.
- Hell or High Watermelon, 21st Amendment Brewery, California. (4.9% ABV)
Described by the brewer as “summer in a can,” this wheat beer has become the go-to summer brew for craft beer fans and it’s developed something of a cult following over the last few years. It’s brewed with fresh watermelon, and that taste shines through without being too overwhelming. Pro tip: Give it a little kick by adding ice and a bit of vodka to make a light, refreshing beer cocktail. Food pairings: Lobster rolls, summer salads, grilled chicken skewers.
- Summerfest, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, California. (5% ABV)
Sierra Nevada is best known for its Pale Ale, which is a actually a great beer to drink during summer, too. Summerfest, though, is a Czech-style pilsner described as clean and crisp with notes of floral hops. Given the hoppy notes, it’s slightly more bitter than other summer beers while still being very drinkable. Food pairings: Sushi, grilled chicken, lightly spiced sausages.
- Hop Sun, Southern Tier Brewing Company, New York (5.1% ABV)
Described as light and slightly dry, the thing that makes this American-style wheat ale different from other summer beers is the distinctive kick of hops. Bright grapefruit and lemon flavors shine through as well, along with sweetness from the wheat. Reviewers say it’s easy to understand where this beer got its name because it has such a sunshiny taste. Food pairings: Fresh mozzarella, berries, gazpacho.
- Summer Love Ale, Victory Brewing Company, Pennsylvania (5.2% ABV)
This is an easy-drinking blonde ale that has a little something for everyone. Casual beer drinkers would find it approachable and easy-drinking and might enjoy the hint of citrus. Craft beer fans would appreciate the slightly hoppy taste, which gives it a little extra flavor. It’s interesting to note that the brewing water is sourced from the nearby Brandywine Creek in Downingtown, Pa. Food pairings: Pizza, chicken and salads.
Top 10 Summer Beers [Huffington Post]
The 53 Absolute Best Summer Beers [Delish]
Beer Reviews [Beer Advocate]