While summer may be slowly winding down, there’s still plenty of time left for backyard barbecues and hammock-swinging laziness. And nothing goes better with those dog day activities than a perfectly brewed, light tasting, easy drinking beer from some of the greatest craft breweries on the planet. This summer has proven a great one for craft brewers and their unique hot weather offerings. I have gathered several of my favorites to share with you in the hopes that you can get your hands on them before they’re gone for the year.
Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yellah Pils
Pilsners are among the most popular of summertime beers. Why? They’re light, low in alcohol, and easy to drink. This makes them perfect for quenching your thirst after mowing the lawn or taking in a day by the pool. This take on the traditional Czech style of lager is made with hearty amounts of pale malt, German specialty malts, and traditional Saaz and 21st century Bavarian hops. One of the few craft breweries that has taken to the can, Oskar Blues of Lyons, Colorado has provided us with the perfect replacement for all of those yellow, piss-water pilsners that are strewn across the supermarket shelves. Mama’s Little Yellow Pils is rich with Czeched-out flavor, gently hopped (about 35 IBUs) and low ABV (just 5.3%). Bet you can’t drink just one.
Samuel Adams Summer Ale
Beers brewed with wheat malt are another staple of the hotter months of the year. The main reason for their increased popularity in the summer months is their light flavor and crisp finish. Sam Adams Summer Ale is an American Wheat Ale brewed with malted wheat as well as lemon zest and grains of paradise. Never heard of them? Grains of Paradise is a rare pepper from Africa first used as a brewing spice in the 13th Century that is known for imparting a crisp and spicy flavor and body to the beer. The use of traditional German Tettnang Tettnanger noble hops imparts a slight citrus aroma while the warmer ale fermentation imparts a background tropical fruit note reminiscent of mangos and peaches. This beer is another low ABV selection (5.3%) that should find a home in just about any summer gathering.
Magic Hat Wacko
Another craft brewery that has remained a bit under the radar when it comes to widespread national distribution is Magic Hat of South Berlington, Vermont. They have quietly built a solid reputation of well-crafted, oft-unordinary brews and their summer seasonal, Wacko, certainly fits the bill. Magic Hat Wacko is a light English-style ale brewed with 2-row pale malted barley and ever so slightly hopped to a barebones 15 IBUs with Columbus hops. So what makes this summer seasonal different aside from its name? How about the beet sugar that’s used in the brewing process. Yeah, I said beets. They not only add a characteristic red hue to the finished product, they also bring a subtle beetiness (is that a word?) that you can just pick out over the well-honed hops. Coming in at a respectable 4.5% ABV, Wacko is a highly drinkable summertime beer that would do well at any summertime soiree.
St. Arnold’s Fancy Lawnmower
Texas’ oldest craft brewery, St. Arnold’s Brewery of Houston, TX, has the perfect beer for those long, hot summer days, Fancy Lawnmower. Lawnmower beers are so-named for their typically low-alcohol light body characteristics that make them the perfect complement to a hard day’s work and St. Arnold’s Fancy Lawnmower is a German style Kölsch that certainly fits the bill. Originally brewed in Cologne, this beer is crisp & refreshing, yet has a sweet malty body that is balanced by a complex, citrus hop character. Multiple additions of German Hallertauer hops are used to achieve this delicate flavor. And the use a special Kölsch yeast (an ale yeast that ferments at lager temperatures) to yield the slightly fruity, clean flavor of this beer. St. Arnold’s Fancy Lawnmower sports 20 IBUs and 4.9% ABV.
Breckenridge SummerBright Ale
Tucked away in the town of Breckenridge, Colorado is a brewery known for its world-class beers. They are brewed with an attention to detail rivaled by few and given their small size, crafted with a most definite characteristic that is wholly Breckenridge. Their summer seasonal, the golden-colored Breckenridge SummerBright Ale, is a unique offering among a sea of wheats and pilsners. Brewed with a combination of wheat, 2-row pale, and munich malts, SummerBright offers the perfect blend of light citrusy hops and sweet maltiness. This American wheat offers up a blend of some of the most recognizable Northwestern hop varieties (Cascade and Williamette) along with some more traditional English hops (Fuggles) that gives it just the right amount of bite. You can’t go wrong with this subtly hopped, slightly fruity ale with its 15 IBUs and 4.5% ABV.