Ah, summer. It’s a time that’s often romanticized by the smell of grass clippings and the sound of sprinklers when it’s actually one in which the warming weather, the beating sun, and the oppressive humidity can make even the idea of leaving your house practically unbearable. Of course, it’s more than possible to remedy such discomforts with an afternoon swim or a swig from an ice-cold beer. But let’s face it. There aren’t too many of us who have ready pool access, and choosing the right refreshments often ends up sounding easier than it is.
Sure, you’re technically free to drink whatever you want when feeling parched on a warm August afternoon, but some styles will undoubtedly prove a better pour. We’re talking light, crushable brews like lagers, shandies, and even session IPAs too. Beers that are easy to drink and even easier to enjoy. After all, you’re going to need something to be sipping on as you try to endure that intense summer heat. To give you a head start in your brew-buying endeavors, we’ve looked high and low to round up our favorites for the season, options we consider to be the best beers to drink this summer. Read on to find out what we’ve picked.
Jack’s Abby Ray Catcher
This seasonal summer lager from Jack’s Abby is an absolute treat, pairing citrus hops and pilsner malts with a bit of lemongrass for a light, super-refreshing sip. On the nose, you’re welcomed with lots of lemon peel and a bit of honey, after which the palate follows up with a minty sweetness that’s almost tea-like in taste. At only 4.6% ABV it’s no hard hitter, but that’s actually a good thing; in the heat of August, this is one beer so good you’ll surely be reaching for more.
Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy
If you’re after a true summertime classic, you can’t go wrong with a shandy. Traditionally brewed using a blend of beer and lemonade, they make for an option that’s as balanced, flavorful, and thirst-quenching as drinks come. Of all the bottled premixes available on the market, Leinenkugel’s offering is easily the most well-known. And it’s for good reason — you’ll find the mix of Weiss-style wheat beer and natural lemonade to be a welcome respite after a long day spent out in the sun.
Lagunitas Daytime IPA
Session beers are great for warmer weather because their low alcohol content means you can throw back a few without catching too much of a buzz. And while most of the choices on the market are pretty bland experiences, Lagunitas’ Daytime IPA is one option that actually manages to bring the flavor, too. Pouring a pale yellow in color, it’s malty and simple with a high hoppy profile, all the while clocking in at just 98 calories a can.
Maine Beer Company Lunch
Named after a local celebrity whale with a chunk taken out of her fin, Lunch is one of Maine Beer Company’s best-selling brews. An IPA crafted using a combination of Amarillo, Centennial, and Simcoe hops, it’s spicy yet zesty with plenty of grapefruit, pine, and even a bit of malty cracker throughout. Because of its milder flavors and light body, out-and-out hopheads might be a little disappointed. However, if IPAs haven’t been your thing in the past, Lunch is one beer that could very well change your perspective.
21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat
Perhaps nothing is more quintessentially summer than a juicy bite taken from a fresh watermelon. With this in mind, 21st Amendment decided to push the envelope and brew a wheat beer using the season’s flavorful fruit. Before you write it off as craft candy in a can, trust us when we say that Hell or High Watermelon Wheat is subtler than you’d expect. Of course, the beer is undoubtedly on the sweeter side, but it’s balanced out by a bready body and just a touch of bitterness.
Brooklyn Brewery Pulp Art Hazy IPA
Like a 70s superband that just can’t seem to quit, Brooklyn Brewery continues to put out one bangin’ beer after another — just take their latest hazy IPA, for instance. Packed full of tropical flavors such as pineapple, citrus, and ripe mango, Pulp Art is a decidedly juicy brew that’ll appeal to drinkers of all kinds. If you really want to take your experience to the next level, pair it with some pizza or guac — you’ll be living on island time before you crush a can.
New Belgium Summer Bliss
However, assuming that IPAs aren’t really your jam, we’d recommend you try this summery wheat beer from New Belgium instead. Brewed with Nugget hops and a splash of lemon and mango, it’s refreshing, easy-drinking, and super smooth because of its low carbonation. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that Summer Bliss is basically a boozy juice — light, sweet, and even a little bit tart. You’ll have to act fast though; this one won’t be around for long.
Sierra Nevada Summer Break
At 4.6% ABV and 30 IBU, Summer Break is already an impressively sessionable brew compared to most beers, and it’s made even more so when you consider that it’s a hazy IPA. Heaped with hoppy character, Sierra Nevada’s offering tastes just as full-bodied and flavorful as any of its traditional IPA alternatives, albeit in a much more manageable format. Admittedly, it’s not quite as tropical as the above pick from Brooklyn Brewery, it’s still very tasty nonetheless.
Dogfish Head Slightly Mighty
No matter if you’re a diet-conscious drinker or you’re just looking for something a bit less filling, Dogfish Head’s Slightly Mighty is one beer that’s sure to please. With only 95 calories and 3.6g of carbs to its name, it makes for a far healthier option than some of the harder-hitting IPAs on the market. And because Dogfish Head brewed it using actual monk fruit, it’s neither watery nor bland as is so often the case with similar brews.
Green Flash West Coast IPA
When nothing but the bitterness of a west coast IPA will do, this brew from Green Flash is the beer for you. Crafted from five different hops for a complex piney yet floral pour, it’s orange-copper in color and sweetly citrus in smell. Rounded out by a dry, woodsy finish that goes heavy on the hoppiness, the result is a beer that sticks to its style but manages to bring a bit of originality, too.
Allagash White is quite the cult favorite within the world of craft beer, having garnered itself a sizeable following since it launched back in 1995. Although it’s an enjoyable brew almost any time of year, we especially like it during the summer because of its crispness and appley-pear taste. It’s worth noting that before sipping on this Belgian-style witbier, you should give the yeast a good rousing to stir up the sediment and soften the mouthfeel. Take our word for it — doing so makes a world of difference.
Between its peach-colored body and pulpy citrus smell, Superfuzz is one beer that’s sure to be popular amongst orange lovers of all kinds. Take a sip and you’ll find that Elysian’s efforts didn’t go unrewarded, combining German Northern Brewer, Cascade, Citra, and Amarillo hops for a flavor profile that’s creamy and bitter yet earthy and herbal at the same time. Blood orange often gets butchered when included in a brew, but this is one option that proves an exception to the rule.
Firestone Walker Pivo
While pilsners tend to get a pretty bad rap here in the states because of low-quality industrialized lager beers, there’s a world of options out there, and Firestone Walker’s Pivo is one that’ll challenge your expectations. A West Coast take on an old German favorite, it comes dry-hopped in the style of Birrificio Italiano brews, meaning it’s crisp and refreshing with floral aromatics and notes of spicy herbal lemongrass.
Victory Brewing Sour Monkey
Prepare to pucker up when taking a sip from a can of Sour Monkey, for though it’s undeniably tasty, it’s also incredibly tart. Brewed using three types of imported Belgian yeast, it’s steadfastly citrus throughout, first hitting you with orange on the nose and then following up with lots of lime on the palate. Watch yourself when drinking this one — it may smell like fruit juice, but at 9.5%, the alcohol content begs to differ.
Night Shift Whirlpool
To round out our list, we have for you one final session beer; however, this time it comes in the form of a New England IPA. A hazy straw color, Whirlpool is soft and citrusy with a super-reasonable 4.5% strength. Because of its gentle bitterness and notes of ripe peach from start the finish, it makes for a brew best-paired with sharper, more flavorful foods such as tacos, cheese, and even balsamic salads. Just like its namesake, this is one beer that’s so easy-drinking, it’ll suck you right in.
The 10 Best Non-Alcoholic Beers
Even with the many light, low-calorie session beers on the market, there are times when it’s best to be sipping on something more responsible (i.e., it won’t give you a buzz). Whether you’re an NA expert or you’re just getting into booze-free brews, our guide to the best non-alcoholic beers is sure to have an option that’ll do just the ticket.