The Beers of Summer
Summer. Just the thought of the word brings back thoughts of warm weather, vacations, and kicking back on the porch with a few beers. Good beer is a crucial part to summer, so picking the right one is as important as choosing the best beach to visit on vacation.
As the wise sage and eminent musician Don Henley put it, I can tell you that my love for beer will still be strong even after the beers of summer have gone, but thankfully these beers are just arriving.
From shandys to pale ales to wheat beers and beyond…summer beers are all about refreshing you and beating the heat. There’s a special bond that exists between warm weather and cold beer. While beer is pretty great all year; there’s just something about a hot day that makes a beer taste better than normal.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Dragons & YumYums – If there’s one thing the folks at Dogfish Head know, it’s how to pair music and beer up in a way that is never gimmicky or forced. Their most recent entry into their beer and music lineup comes by way of the weird and wonderful band The Flaming Lips. Together with the brewers at Dogfish Head, the band came up with a beer that fits their personality while fitting perfectly into DFH’s unique beer lineup. Dragons & YumYums is a 6.5% ABV “Lip-smacking” tart pale ale that’s brewed with dragonfruit, yumberry, passionfruit, pear juice, and black carrot. All ingredients you’d expect to find in a beer from Dogfish Head, and lineup just eclectic enough to do the Flaming Lips justice.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Briney Melon – Back in the early 16th century, the people of Golsar, Germany created a beer that was brewed with salt water and spiced with coriander and hops. Allowed to ferment with lactic bacteria, this tart beverage was a loved by the masses. As with all things, history has a way of repeating itself and Anderson Valley is here to help with their Melon Gose (prounouced go-zuh). This 4.2% ABV beer is light yet tart with a slightly salty taste. Perfect for warmer months, this beer is only around during the summer so make sure to try it before it’s history again.
G&T Gose – When it comes to classic cocktails, it’s hard to beat a gin and tonic. Simple, straightforward, and full of bright botanical flavors, it’s a real go-to drink. The brewers at Anderson Valley Brewing Company felt the same way, which is why they decided to translate this classic drink into beer form. Using a tart sour Gose beer as the base for the concoction, you’ll also find lemon peel, juniper, lemongrass, and grains of paradise along for the trip to give this bright, tart beer a truly refreshing edge that’s perfect for warmer months. Like many Gose-style beers, G&T Gose comes in at 4.2% ABV.
Summer Solstice – Unlike winter and fall beers, summer beers fall into quite a few categories and run the gamut of flavors. Take for example Anderson Valley’s Summer Solstice. This beer is slightly sweet with a malty backbone and a clean finish. Summer Solstice is considered a session beer, coming in at 5% ABV, making it perfect for having a few beers while barbequing or cutting the grass. Bravo hops give this beer a slight hop flavor and the light spice addition gives the beer a hint of caramel and spice, making it a “cream soda for adults” without being too sweet.
Oberon – Few things taste more like summer than a cold can of Bell’s Oberon. This 5.8% ABV wheat beer features a spicy hop character with mild fruity aromas. The malt gives this beer a smooth mouthfeel and pleasant lightness that makes it nearly perfect for the warm summer months. Oberon is available in 12-oz cans as well as the 16-oz pint cans, giving you the exact right amount of beer to make the porch-sitting months hopefully last forever.
Heavy Seas Beer
Smooth Sail – Wheat ales seem to make the best summer beers, but sometimes they can get a little bit overused and, dare I say, boring. The folks at Heavy Seas Beer agree on both counts, which is how their Smooth Sail Summer Ale was born. This 4.5% ABV wheat ale is brewed with lemon and orange peel, giving the finish on this beer a great citrus kick. Since cans are the best beer vessel for the summer, this beer will only be available in cans and on draft. So, grab a can, kick back, and enjoy the tastes of summer without worrying about broken bottles or boring beers.
North Country Brewing Company
Bucco Blonde – Blonde ales are typically light and refreshing, making them a perfect match for warm weather, and North Country Brewing’s Bucco Blonde just that. This 4.9% blonde ale has a great malty body with just a hint of bitterness to balance things out. Best of all, this beer is brewed specifically for our very own Pittsburgh Pirates, and more specifically for Bucco’s pitching coach Ray Searage, also known as Uncle Ray. To sweeten the deal even more, proceeds from Bucco Blonde go to benefit the Make a Wish foundation.
Victory Brewing Company
Summer Love – Returning this summer again in a can, Victory’s seasonal Summer Love comes to us in the go-anywhere 12-oz can. While there are many reasons to love summer, Summer Love is possibly the best. This golden ale comes in at 5.2% ABV and features tastes of fresh, clean German malts with earthy, spicy noble European hops, and finishes up with a slight lemon aftertaste thanks to some whole flower American hops used in the brewing process.
Troegs Brewing Company
Crimson Pistil – What do you think of when you think of summer? Pools, grass cutting, and the beach are all good candidates, but one thing that’s probably present in every image is bright, colorful flowers. Summer is when the beautiful hibiscus flower blows, and Troegs Brewing decided to take full advantage of it this year for their new Crimson Pistil Hibiscus IPA. This 6.2% ABV beer features a mix of berry-like tanginess, tropical hop notes, and a hearty dose of bitterness to give you your new favorite summertime beer.
Erie Brewing Company
Soleil Shandy – Shandys are perfect for the summer. They’re light, refreshing, and exactly what you need for a day spent in the sun. Erie Brewing’s Soleil Summer Shandy is a great example of what a shandy should be. The beer comes in at 3.5% ABV and features bright raspberry and lemon flavors with a backbone that’s all beer. Unlike flavored beers, shandys are a blend of fruit juice and lager, done so that you can enjoy beer in the warmer weather without having to resort to anything less flavorful.
Oskar Blues Brewery
Fugli IPA – Not all IPAs are meant to be high in alcohol and super bitter, far from it. Take for example Fugli from Oskar Blues Brewing. Along with the bright hop flavors you’d expect from an IPA you’ll find hints of blueberry, tangerine, and citrus thanks to the Yuzu, Ugli fruit, and Mosaic hops. Best of all, Fugli comes in at 5.8% ABV so you’re not overdoing it when the days get long, and the nights get warm.
Otter Creek Brewing Co.
Orange Dream Cream Ale – There was a time when cream ales ruled the beer world. They were low in bitterness, easy to drink, and cheap to make. As with many things, everything old is new again, and with that is a resurgence of the beloved cream ale. Returning for 2018 is Otter Creek Brewing’s take on the cream ale, their 5.25% ABV Orange Dream that features flavors of orange peel, citrus, and malty goodness. Inspired by the orange-flavored ice cream that we’ve all loved at one time or another, this beer is meant for the hot summer months and like most beers in this list, is avaialbe in a can so it can go where you go, too.
Saugatuck Brewing Company
Blueberry Lemonade Shandy – Lemonade stands are all nice and fine, but if more of them upgraded from lemonade mix to Blueberry Lemonade Shandy from Saugatuck Brewing Company, they’d probably make a little more money. This 5% ABV shandy has the bright lemon flavor you’d expect in a solid shandy with the added tartness of blueberries to give it a truly unique flavor profile that’s just perfect for summer.