The First Sip: 20 Best Beers For Summer 2016

With summer just around the corner comes several seasonal realities that are familiar to all of us. Yes, you will most likely look ridiculous in a Tommy Bahama t-shirt, especially with that Zinc Oxide covering up the tip of your nose. No, please don’t hit the beach wearing flip-flops and socks; it’s just not what you do. And possibly, if you play your cards right, you may make it through the season without being tortured by Jimmy Buffet’s “Cheeseburger In Paradise.” As you can see, there are several summer staples for all of us. Do’s and don’ts if you will. One of the more popular “do’s” is enjoying a cold afternoon beer in the warm summer sun. Unfortunately, this privilege is abused by those who are committing the unspeakable crime of indulging in the wrong beer.

Summer’s all about certain style and flavor. So why punish your taste buds by drinking beer that provides neither of these two essential characteristics? Too often it’s a sin of omission; not knowing such beer exists. And falling victim to gimmicks over style and taste. Yeah, maybe the beer can lets you know when the beer is cold, but what good does that do? It’s time to expand your mind, and taste buds, into a real summer state. That’s why we’ve put our heads together and picked the 20 best summer beers for the upcoming 2016 season.

Stone Enjoy By 5.30.16 Tangerine IPA

Stone Enjoy By 5.30.16 Tangerine IPA

Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9%
Location: San Diego, CA

Here’s an already delicious and fresh IPA that just got a citrusy summer kick with tangerine. It’s a double IPA with more than ten different hops with pureed tangerines to give it that extra tang. Orangey flavors yielded from this addition pair exceedingly well with the hoppy bitterness. And just like every Enjoy By, the earlier you can drink it the better. It was released yesterday.

Anderson Valley The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose

Anderson Valley The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose

Style: Gose
ABV: 4.2%
Location: Boonville, CA

The Gose (“Go-zuh”) style originated in the town of Goslar, Germany in the early 16th century using salted water and spiced with coriander and hops. It features a slight tartness with a bright, golden color and light creamy head. This beer, in particular, is perfect for a summer session with additional hints of lemon zest and tropical fruit coming through on the palate.

Bell’s Poolside Ale

Bell’s Poolside Ale

Style: Belgian Style Wheat
ABV: 5%
Location: Kalamazoo, MI

Next month Bell’s Brewing will be debuting yet another delicious canned addition to their family. Poolside is straight-up summer in a can. A Belgian-inspired wheat ale fermented with a Montmorency cherry juice from Northern Michigan, the beer boasts a subtle tartness and bright aromas of clove and fruity esters typical of the Belgian yeast strain used to brew this delicious summer ale.

Stiegl Grapefruit Radler

Stiegl Grapefruit Radler

Style: Radler
ABV: 2%
Location: Salzburg, Austria

For those unfamiliar with the radler style, it’s a low alcohol beer with fruit soda that typically yields a bitter, tart finish, especially when mixed with grapefruit. In particular, the Stiegl Radler is a combination of their Stiegl-Goldbrau and grapefruit juice that pours a bit cloudy in appearance with a tangy, fruit flavor that creates a refreshing finish from the first to the last sip.

Brooklyn Summer Ale

Brooklyn Summer Ale

Style: English Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
Location: New York, NY

If you’re looking for a summer beer that’s not going to confuse the hell out of you, then check out this English pale ale from Brooklyn Brewery. It pours a bright, golden yellow and features mild aromas of light malt and tangy fruit with subtle lemony hop notes. The taste follows the head of this ale leaving little room for mystery. It’s a classic example of a delicious and easy-drinking summer ale.

Cigar City Jai Alai

Cigar City Jai Alai

Style: American IPA
ABV: 7.5%
Location: Tampa, FL

What better state to put out a tropical-esque IPA than Florida. Jai Alai features a nose of fragrant orange, grapefruit, mango and coconut with a taste that brings all those aromas into a well-balanced medley of tropical fruit and bitterness. Finishing with a hint of caramel and hop notes, Jai Alai is a session-able IPA that packs quite the ABV punch. Proceed with caution.

Deschutes Summer Twilight Ale

Deschutes Summer Twilight Ale

Style: American Blonde Ale
ABV: 5%
Location: Bend, OR

There’s nothing like a real West Coast summer ale to put you in the summer state of mind. The Twilight Summer Ale, in particular, is meant for those late afternoon/evenings after the day’s heat has passed and the grill lights up. This beer features more aromas of tropical fruit with a little more tartness in the taste that your ordinary blonde ale, making it a very refreshing and delicious beer.

Troegs Sunshine Pilsner

Troegs Sunshine Pilsner

Style: German Pilsner
ABV: 4.5%
Location: Hershey, PA

German Pilsner’s are arguably one of the most unassuming beers around. Clean, crisp and drinkable, they’re the perfect thirst quencher for those sweaty dog-days of summer. Troegs does an excellent job of mirroring this style with their lightly carbonated bright and clear pouring Pilsner. It features a crisp taste with a bright piney hop finish that leaves a slight floral aftertaste. A very easy drinker.

Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA

Oskar Blues Pinner Throwback IPA

Style: American IPA
ABV: 4.9%
Location: Lyons, CO

The good people at Oskar Blues set out on a mission to pack as much hop and malt flavor into a beer as possible without ruining its crush-ability. The result is their Throwback Pinner, featuring several varieties of hops that yield aromas and flavors of tropical fruits, citrus, pineapple, and spiced berry. It’s an all-around killer summer beer that’ll give you that extra pep in your step at the next barbecue.

Hardywood Park Capital Trail Pale Ale

Hardywood Park Capital Trail Pale Ale

Style: Dry Hopped Pale Ale
ABV: 5.6%
Location: Richmond, VA

Nothing like drinking beer to support a good cause. Each purchase of this citrusy, grassy, and noticeably piney pale ale supports the Virgina Capital Trail Foundation. They tend to the historic 50+ miles of cycling, running and walking paths linking the state’s capital to Jamestown, the birthplace of the U.S. Each batch is dry-hopped with local and west coast hops to provide this beer with excellent drinkability for outdoor enthusiasts.

Founders All Day IPA

Founders All Day IPA

Style: American IPA
ABV: 4.7%
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Here, what’s in this beer in most definitely in its name; a session ale through and through. So much so that Founders wants you to know you can drink this all day without feeling too woozy. It pours a nice orangish color with a familiar west coast citrusy aroma on the nose. Drinkability is on point here with just the right balance of bitter and malty notes through the palate.

Tree House Eureka w/ Citra

Tree House Eureka w/ Citra

Style: American Blonde Ale
ABV: 4.1%
Location: Monson, MA

Tree House rarely disappoints whenever they release something special. And once again they exceed expectations with this blonde ale. Pouring a light hazy and fizzy appearance, the beer’s aroma is all citrus. We’re talking orange, grapefruit, and a myriad of tropical notes. The Eureka also finishes crisp and dry thanks to its sufficient carbonation. Definitely a keeper.

Karl Strauss Mosaic Session Ale

Karl Strauss Mosaic Session Ale

Style: American IPA
ABV: 5.5%
Location: San Diego, CA

Strictly hopped with only Mosaic hops-hence the name- this ale imparts an explosion of tropical hoppy flavors on the palate and the nose. Boasting superb drinkability, the Mosaic is dry-hopped to deliver the same hop appeal without escalating the ABV to “non-session” levels. It’s not meant to be a one-and-done beer. So don’t feel bad about indulging in two to three of these bad boys.

Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin

Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin

Style: American IPA
ABV: 7%
Location: San Diego, CA

The Ballast Point Sculpin is a repeat award-winning IPA. Now, here’s that same IPA with a grapefruit twist. The beer features bright apricot, peach, mango, and lemon flavors with an overarching grapefruit flavor throughout. It’s a brilliant summer beer that pairs well with everything from weekend brunches to late night poolside shenanigans. The Grapefruit Sculpin is quite literally summer in a bottle.

SanTan Mr. Pineapple

SanTan Mr. Pineapple

Style: American Pale Wheat
ABV: 5%
Location: Chandler, AZ

Even the beer haters can get behind a pineapple wheat ale. And SanTan Brewery delivers the goods with their Mr. Pineapple brew. Each beer pours a hazy golden color with aromas of toasted wheat, pineapple juice, and the light floral hops. Obviously, flavor follows the nose with sweet and juicy pineapple notes and a sweet malt background. The pineapple also lingers a bit in the finish as well making it very drinkable and agreeable to those who may not be the biggest fans of the ‘hoppy’ life.

Brewery Ommegang Fleur De Houblon

Brewery Ommegang Fleur De Houblon

Style: Belgian Pale Ale
ABV: 6.8%
Location: Cooperstown, NY

Fleur De Houblon (Hop Flowers) celebrates the summer season through offering drinkers a refreshing and easy-to-drink Belgian ale. It pours a rich, gold color with distinct floral hops in the aroma that brighten up the flavor of the beer throughout the drinking experience. It imparts an earthy, fruity and floral profile with noticeably pleasing complexity and spice thanks to their Belgian house yeast. If you’re a fan of fruity esters and lemongrass, then give this summer beer a shot.

Firestone Walker Easy Jack Summer Session IPA

Firestone Walker Easy Jack Summer Session IPA

Style: American IPA
ABV: 4.5%
Location: Paso Robles, CA

From the people who continue to serve as the Jack of all trades in the brewing world, Firestone Walker decided to offer us a session IPA that pours clear golden and presents a tremendous grassy and fruity aroma with honeydew and melon. The flavor profile is ideally summer with more melon and grassy notes and additional west coast hop flavor combined with sweet malt to balance everything out.

Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager

Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager

Style: Czech Pilsner
ABV: 5%
Location: Chico, CA

Based out of Chico, Sierra Nevada understands the need to beat the heat on a summer’s day. The Summerfest is their solution. It’s a very unassuming beer that provides great flavor and drinkability to those soaking up the sunshine. It features slight malty sweetness, a bit of spicy hop flavor and of course the crisp finish you’d come to want on a hot day in the sun.

Elysian Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale

Elysian Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale

Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.4%
Location: Seattle, WA

The Superfuzz was brewed for those citrusy hopheads looking to feel all warm and fuzzy inside on a toasty summer’s day. From its appearance to aroma to flavor, it’s orange all day. A warm peach-colored body with a hazy glow, orange juice aroma alluding to pulp, zest and rind, and a creamy orange flavor profile with a touch of earthy bitterness and herbal notes. It’s an easy drinker for the orange-lover in all of us.

Victory Summer Love

Victory Summer Love

Style: American Blonde Ale
ABV: 5.2%
Location: Downingtown, PA

The summer of 1967 is often referred to as the Summer of Love for many reasons. Now, for those who were there but can’t quite remember, here’s a way to pay homage to the season that’s known for sparking seasonal romance. Earthy familiarity from European hops are supported by fresh and clean German malts, offering the pale straw appearance and a slight toasted malt and earthy hop flavor that finishes clean with a lemon refreshment. Summer never tasted so good.

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