10 Summer Beers to Keep You Cool and Refreshed
Jul 17, 2012 09:41AM ● Published by Erin Frisch
For many, the perfect refreshment for a summer evening is an ice-cold brew. Good summer beers are typically light and crisp—and great for unwinding at the end of a long, hot day. Craft breweries have brought us more variety and quality in beers than ever before, so a light beer no longer means a flavorless beer. From hefeweizens and fruity beers to summer ales and brisk lagers, the choices are almost endless. Check out these 10 beer suggestions to stay refreshed whether you’re hanging out poolside, relaxing at the beach, or grilling on the backyard barbecue.
21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat
Watermelon is a staple of summer, and 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco combines summer’s signature fruit with a classic summer beverage. This American wheat beer is brewed with fresh watermelon, resulting in a dry, crisp, and refreshing brew with a fruit flavor that explodes across the palate. The beer is lightly carbonated with an almost nonexistent head, giving it a smooth, flat character. With an ABV of 4.9%, it’s light enough to enjoy more than one, but its sweetness may limit you to just a few. This beer is packaged in cans, making for easy and safe transport to any location.
The pilsner style of beer, a type of pale lager, has long been a thirst quencher enjoyed during the hot summer months. Pilsners are generally very light and clear, ranging in color from pale to golden yellow, and they have a distinct hop aroma and flavor. Pilsner Urquell originates from Pilsen (in the Czech Republic), the birthplace of Bavarian brewing. Brewed since 1842 with noble Saaz hops grown in the region, soft clear water, and Bohemian and Moravian barley, Pilsner Urquell is a well-balanced, slightly sweet, malty and hoppy straw-colored brew that epitomizes the pilsner style and provides a more distinct hop flavor than other pilsners.
Anchor's Summer Beer
Anchor’s seasonal brings a lively taste to the summer beer lineup and sets itself apart from other wheat beers with its light-bronze color. This all-malt beer is more transparent in color than traditional wheats, and the aroma does not contain the typical fruity notes that characterize many heavier wheats. Anchor Summer Beer has a malty citrus flavor and a thicker head due to protein deposits of wheat from the malt. Its moderate amount of carbonation and faint citrus taste make this a perfect choice on a hot summer day.
Dale’s Pale Ale
Another canned craft beer for easy traveling is Dale’s Pale Ale by Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colorado. In fact, this was one of the first American craft breweries to package in cans. This Rocky Mountain pale ale is a hearty brew that’s copper-hued, has a rich aroma, and clocks in with 6.5% ABV. It offers a nice balance of malt and hops, with the hop flavor being a bit bolder than the average pale ale. Yet it isn’t overly bitter, and the malt backs up the citrusy hop flavor, resulting in a well-balanced beer.
Peak Organic Summer Session Ale
In the small market share of certified organic beer, Peak Organic Summer Session Ale stands out from the rest. The Summer Session Ale is described by Peak as a marriage between a West Coast pale ale and a wheat beer. The pale ale side comes in the form of the hoppy finish, while the wheat beer side contributes to the citrusy aroma, and both blend for a complex mouthfeel. The result of fusing these two styles is a very mellow, highly drinkable summer ale with citrus top notes.
Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
Kellerweis is Sierra Nevada’s take on the Bavarian hefeweizen style. It’s one of the few American-brewed hefeweizens made using the traditional Bavarian style of open fermentation—a difficult, labor-intensive technique that results in depth and flavor complexity. The yeast strain used in this beer imparts a subtle banana and clove complexity, along with some lemon tartness and fresh wheat bread flavors. It has a hazy, yellow-orange color and a frothy head, and the smooth malt flavor results in a sunny, light, and satisfying beverage.
Pyramid Apricot Ale
Pyramid Apricot Ale is an aromatic, unfiltered fruit beer with a distinctive aroma of fresh apricot, and it’s made with 2-row pale barley and malted wheat, giving it a smooth and malty wheat finish. The apricot flavor is subtle, and that flavor, plus the high level of carbonation, gives the beer a refreshing and lovely mouthfeel. The use of the Nugget hops contributes a hoppy character that provides a proper balance between bitter and sweet. It has been a standard for the Pyramid Brewery since it was first introduced in 1994. This brew will go well with spicy barbecue and could make for an interesting ingredient in homemade barbecue sauces.
Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale
Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma, California, is known for using lots and lots of hops. A cross between a wheat beer and an American IPA, this one is brewed using three different types of wheat and plenty of hops. It has a hazy, golden-orange appearance and includes flavors and aromas of apricots, peaches, pine, clove, rose petals, and spice—all characteristics contributed by the citrusy Centennial, Cascade, and Citra hops. Ultimately, this is a silky, crisp wheat beer that goes down smooth, but with a 7.5% ABV be careful about how quickly it goes down!
Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat
Hazy and golden in color, the Sam Adams Coastal Wheat Beer is a fresh twist on the popular hefeweizen style. Wheat beers are popular summer brews because in many ways they offer a blank canvas. Wheat contributes very little flavor and a soft mouthfeel, making for a great medium for the fruit and spice flavors popular with summertime beers. The Eureka and Lisbon varieties of lemon grown in California and used in this beer give it the perfect balance of citrusy tartness and sweetness, as well as a pronounced lemony aroma. The spiciness of the Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Spalt Spalter Noble hops balance out the slightly sweet character, resulting in a crisp and refreshing summer brew.
Harpoon Summer Beer
Harpoon’s summer seasonal is a no-frills, Kolsch-style ale with a bright yellow color and resilient head. Kolsch-style beers are brewed with ale yeast and are light bodied with a mild flavor. The hopping levels make the finish crisp and dry, allowing the taste to pop on your tongue—a sensation made all the stronger because of the heavy carbonation. A true summer beer, it is clean and refreshing, and with a 5% ABV, you can quench the biggest thirst.