Summer is for beer drinking. Period. Whether you’re on vacation at the beach, picnicking in an urban park or just relaxing out back in the evening, cracking a cold one is always a good move.
Usually, summer drinking means less snobby drinking, but for us proud and self-proclaimed booze snobs, there’s no reason to stop enjoying the good stuff just because it’s warm outside. Sure, a mass-produced lager or Cerveza is great, but a craft beer with some distinction makes for a more interesting, enjoyable drink. When stocking your fridge for hot weather, consider some (or all) of these varieties of summer beers:
- White beer
- Low alcohol content IPA
- Fresh fruit-flavored beer
- Shandy/Radler lemon beers
- Craft lagers
- Pale ales
To help select a rack for this summer, we’ve rounded up 15 of our favorite summer brews, including crisp IPAs, thirst-quenching light lagers and refreshing pale ales. Check them out below.
1. Allagash White
The fresh citrus, spice and yeast in this Allagash White make it a no-brainer for summertime. It’s a classic Belgian witbier (wheat beer) with an Americanized lightness. The taste profile strikes a balance between light floral notes and warm spice, offering a complex beer that you can enjoy with upscale seafood or appetizers in the yard. It also has a low alcohol percentage (compared to most Belgian beers), so you can crush a few of them without getting too drunk. After all, it’s summer, not spring break.
2. Founders All Day IPA
Grand Rapids-based brewery Founders is known for producing highly-rated, award-winning brews. This All Day IPA is no different than their other hit beers. Well, there is one difference: you don’t have to drink this one like a beer snob. As the name suggests, you can throw these back all day while on vacation. It’s hoppy, light and dry and fairly low on alcohol at 4.7%. Drink it with some fruit and cheese for a killer afternoon snack.
3. Golden Road Brewing Mango Cart
If you’ve ever been to Los Angeles, then you know the street fruit carts that inspired this California Wheat Ale. The beer has an overtone of fresh mango, but still delivers hints of the wheat ale taste that we all love. Reviewers are big fans across the web, saying the beer is refreshing and fruity but still light and crushable.
4. Shock Top Lemon Shandy
Another fruity option is this shandy from Shock Top. Shandys are a cocktail (if you can even call them that) with beer and lemonade. Shock Top bottles up the delicious afternoon treat with this beer. The result is an incredibly refreshing drink that will make you beg for an endless summer. Shock Top’s shandys are only available May through September, so be sure to stock up while you still can.
5. Lagunitas DayTime IPA
Lagunitas is famous for top-tier, widely-produced IPAs. This DayTime IPA takes things in a summery direction with a lighter, fresher flavor and a 4% ABV. The beer also boasts an incredibly low calorie count at 98 calories per can, so you can continue cracking them without losing that hard-earned summer bod.
6. Firestone Walker Lager
Lagers are harder to find than IPAs or ales when it comes to craft beer, but here’s one worth trying from Firestone Walker. It upgrades the easy-drinking pillowiness of a lager with more flavor thanks to Gambrinus pilsner malt and a touch of German hops for bitterness. According to Firestone’s website, Brewmaster Matt Brynildson has this to say about the beer: “Firestone Lager is made for drinking, not thinking. It’s about enjoying a good, clean beer.” We couldn’t agree more.
7. Sixpoint The Crisp Pilsner
If you’re in search of a nice American pilsner to sip with sunsets or summer meals, grab a rack of The Crisp by Sixpoint. The beer has a complex flavor with notes of light biscuit. This makes it more mature than your typical summer beer, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Thanks to its relatively low ABV (5.4%), it’s an easy-drinking beer that you can enjoy with friends throughout the evening.
Mexican cervezas are to warm summers what Russian vodkas are to harsh winters. But this summer we recommend adventuring from the usual cerveza suspects to a slightly less-consumed choice: Sol. It’s named after summer’s leading hero, the sun, and stays true to its name with a rejuvenating freshness to be enjoyed in the heat.
9. Left Hand Nitro Flamingo Dreams
Pink drinks are for everyone. This Flamingo Dreams ale from Left Hand has the flavor and fun factor to replace rosé on a hot afternoon. The unique, summery ale uses in-can nitro, giving the pour a velvety smoothness similar to that of a fresh Guinness. As you might expect from the pink hue, the flavor is fruity and refreshing with notes of berries and citrus.
10. Hitachino Nest Yuzu Lager
Japanese beers are often overlooked in the craft beer scene here in the US. This Hitachino Nest yuzu lager is a very convincing reason why Japanese breweries deserve more attention. The lager features yuzu, an Asian citrus somewhere in-between an orange and a lemon with a unique flavor of its own. As with many of our favorite summer beers, the citrus’ acidity and lager make a perfect combination for quenching thirst.
11. Rothaus Pils Tannen Zäpfle
Sure, innovative craft beers from young American brands are fantastic, but sometimes the only cure for a hot summer day is a classic beer. This traditional German pilsner from Rothaus makes a great option for satisfying any such old-school cravings. It’s light, crispy and grassy, nailing the German pils flavor that’s done the trick for Europeans and Americans alike for centuries.
12. Firestone Walker Rosalie
Firestone Walker, one of the better California-based breweries, crafted what might be the ultimate summer drink: a rosé-beer hybrid. Dubbed the Rosalie, this drink offers the best of both worlds with the refreshing fruity dryness of rosé plus the crisp bubbles and low ABV of beer. The Rosalie is fermented with six different grape varieties and hibiscus for that iconic summer color of rosé.
13. Jack’s Abby Blood Orange Wheat Radler
Radlers are essentially the Germans’ version of a shandy, combining beer and lemon soda for a summer drink that’s as refreshing as it is simple. We like this one from Jack’s Abby because it’s less sweet than most and seriously crushable with an ABV of 4%. This makes them ideal for afternoon sipping in the sun, but the flavor works surprisingly well with appetizers or meals including fish, shellfish and salads.
14. 21st Amendment Hell Or High Watermelon
Watermelon and beer might sound insane, but 21st Amendment somehow pulled it off in style with this Hell or High Watermelon beer. The base is a classic American wheat beer (already ripe for summer drinking) that undergoes a secondary fermentation with fresh watermelon. The resulting beer has just a tinge of the watermelon flavor, so no; it doesn’t taste like candy.
15. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
If you’re looking for a down-to-earth, high-quality summer ale, pick up a rack of Lagunitas’ Little Sumpin’ Sumpin.’ Hops are brought front and center in the wheaty beer, and the drinking experience is silky smooth to the end. There are a few added flavors verging on citrus, but good luck figuring out what you’re actually tasting. The ale is on the strong side with an ABV of 7.5%, making it a great cocktail alternative during happy hour to pair with cheese, dried fruit and other snacks.