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You don’t need me to tell you how great summer is. Vacations, longer days, and picnics help to make shorts season pretty awesome. Even better, there are some beers out there that only come around in the summer months.
Don’t get me wrong, I can drink a stout on a hot day without thinking twice about it the same as I can drink a hefeweizen in the winter. While this is true, I do agree that a clean, refreshing, cold beer goes great with a backyard BBQ or beach trip. There’s just something about a cold lager that is perfect with your feet in the sand.
Sumer beers are generally described as having a clean, hoppy bitterness, lighter on the alcohol, and an overall lack of strong flavors. These are meant to be enjoyed in the heat with BBQ and high temperatures and humidity. I would go so far as to say they are traditionally lighter beers, but the world “light” brings up thoughts of macro beer and their “lite” offerings. Summer beers are far from that.
I do have my favorites when it comes to summer beer, so I thought I’d be a nice guy and share. Here are my top 5 summer beers in no particular order. If you can find these in your area, give them a try.
1. Victory Summer Love – Victory uses German malts paired with whole flower Tettnang, Simcoe, and Citra hops to give this refreshing beer a little bite while still staying refreshing. The whole flower hops help to give this a nice citrusy lemon finish that keeps this beer refreshing from start to end.
2. Southern Tier Hop Sun – I have yet to have a beer from Souther Tier Brewing out of Lakewood, New York that I haven’t loved. This summer offering is no exception. Considered a session ale, this beer is great for having a few on your porch or for a day of picnic action. Dry-hopped with whole flower hops, the bitterness is balanced well and still stays refreshing. Another wheat beer, yes, but it is definitely unique in its own right.
3. Bell’s Oberon – I know, I know…another wheat beer. Oberon is one of those beers I can’t get enough of during the summer months. I wish I could age it and keep it all year, but with a shelf life of only 6 months it really is only around during the summer. At 5.8%, this is a little bit above a session ale, but still allows you to drink more than one. Slightly bitter and hoppy, with a solid wheat flavor, Oberon is definitely one of my favorites.
4. Lagunitas Pils – Pilsners are meant to be refreshing and clean tasting. This Czech style pilsner offers solid bitterness while remaining easy to drink. With less malt and more hops in a standard Bohemian pilsner, its a refreshing beer for those of us that still want some hop flavor in our summer beer.
5. Ommegang Hennepin Saison – Saisons in general are one of my favorite styles of beers for the summer. Theses farmhouse-inspired beers were originally brewed on farms for the help and field workers for the summer months. Ommegang’s saison in particular is one of my favorites mainly due to it’s added spiciness and Belgian farmhouse taste. At 7.7%, however, this is one beer you need to be careful with on a hot day. The spice and yeast used in a good saison will refresh you while giving a complex-enough flavor to keep you coming back for more.
Well, that’s my list. I wanted to keep it nice and short, else this could have easily become my top 20 summer beers, too. It’s a great time of year for good beer and great beer festivals. Get out and try some good summer beers and get some favorites of your own.