Let us take a moment to extol beers — in particular, beers enjoyed during the summer. They cool you down, and you can use the condensation to wipe the sweat off your brow, or as an excuse to take a break and be reinvigorated (or relaxed) during the most vibrant, cruelly uncomfortable yet gorgeous moments of the year. And then there’s the taste. We enjoy the taste.
A true hot-weather brew, though, is not necessarily easily found. We won’t knock macrobrews — their simple refreshment is enhanced all the same by hot weather, scantily clad women and baseball games. Those (the beers, not the women) are easily snatched from the corner store shelf, though. This list tackles the summer micro brew, a trickier topic, if only because there are so damn many. Pop the cap off the right one of these beauties and any summer activity can be filled with crisp, carbonated, slightly buzzed pleasure. Top that, fresca.
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Victory Summer Love
Pair it with: Tossing the football out back.
It’s fizzy, it’s light, it’s bready as all hell without settling into your stomach in the slightest. Close to a macro light lager in its mouthfeel, sans the unsavory flavors.
Founders All Day IPA
Pair it with: Camping, mowing the lawn, other spirited summer activities.
Founders, once again, is right on the mark. We love forward hops, but big IPAs are distinctly nap-inducing during the hot months. Not to be bested by mother nature and/or human nature, the midwestern brewery has busted out a beer with delicious hop bite, low ABV and that key of summer brews and bad beer commercials: drinkabality.
Sierra Nevada Ovila Abbey Saison
Pair it with: A book in the shade.
Sierra Nevada’s newest in its Ovila Abbey collaboration gives us complexity in the realms we want it — tangy yeast, pleasant hints of spice, and plenty of fresh, ripe fruits — in farmhouse ale form. Oh yea, and mandarin oranges and peppercorn, which it’s brewed with. Funkiness, in moderation.
Dogfish Head Festina Peche
Pair it with: A float in the pool.
Come for the nose full of peaches, stay for the utter lightness that lacks flavor like a baseball game lacks drunk, sunburned old dudes. It’s made in the traditional Berliner Weisser style — that is, a sour, acidic brew served with raspberry syrup for an overly sweet finish.
Pair it with: Sitting in the AC procrastinating before a project.
A Lagunitas IPA without intense fruitiness would be startling and entirely out of character. Don’t hold your breath when you crack a Daytime. A crisp IPA with all the spice, hops and citrus intensity and without the high ABV. It’s a great peer to Founders’ All Day offering, but that said, if you can get them both, they’ll pair beautifully, too. It’s out in July.
Pair it with: A post-sporting activity cool-down.
This American wheat beer is musty, with a smoothness lent by wheat malts and honey backed by quiet fruits.
Sly Fox Grisette
Pair it with: Fishing, hiking or camping.
Grass and lemon might sound like the menu for a South American rodent, but it also makes for a damn refreshing beer. But it’s complex — more complex than that rodent will ever be. Spice follows up, with just the right kick of yeast and wheat. It’s in their new top-off can this summer, too.
The Alchemist Heady Topper
Pair it with: A bone-in ribeye on the grill.
A raw hop bomb, this loaded mamajamma somehow manages to backhand you with oranges, herbs, tropical fruits, pine and caramel and still maintain sweet, sweet drinkability. It scores points for being recommended out of the can and saving you the hassle of bringing glassware. As the biggest beer on our list, it’s sure to please big IPA lovers and scare away the rest. (PS: at 8% ABV this sucker tops our list. Plan transportation accordingly.)
Southern Tier Hop Sun
Pair it with: Just about anything.
A summer seasonal with balance and refreshment on the mind. It doesn’t feel as “wheaty” as its peers, but rather maintains the crispness of a lager with all the citrus of a wheat beer and the hop bite of a pale ale. If you’re not sure what style you enjoy, why not have them all in one?
Troegs Sunshine Pils
Pair it with: Campfire burgers.
This is a classic German pilsner that works across the board. There’s a pleasant biscuity body, crisp lemon and citrus tartness and a peppery hop finish. Paired with some charred meat or even a comfy chair it’s a winner.
METHODOLOGY (1) Prepare beers for tasting. (2) Swear you’ll only have a sip of each. (3) Barricade self in break room. (4) Drink each beer. (5) Start singing “Piano Man” and other Billy Joel classics. (6) Fall asleep on table.