See our Best Summer Beers of 2018 here.
Summer is beer’s time to shine. Oppressively hot weather, outdoor activities, and a need for refreshment all call for a cold one. Breweries across the world recognize this call and answer with a slew of summer beer releases. VinePair drank through as many as we could get our hands on to give you the official guide to the 25 best summer beers on the market. Bring on the summer.
Rogue Ale’s Paradise Pucker
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Summer belongs to the sour — if that sour is Rogue Ale’s Paradise Pucker. Brewed with passion fruit, orange and guava (POG if you’re in Hawaii), it’s a well-balanced sour with just the right touch of carbonation to draw out the tart fruit flavors and leveling malt beer flavors. Don’t be thrown off by how much focus is on the fruit for this beer — it’s the sour you’ve been dreaming of.
Buffalo Bill’s Orange Blossom
This beer is summer incarnate. It has a light creamy orange taste without verging too much on the side of orange Creamsicle or too much flowery orange blossom. I want to bathe in this. I want to hold this in my mouth forever. It’s like a hot summer day on a porch that’s been perfectly quenched. It’s citrusy without being sour, orangey without the white part of the peel, full-bodied without feeling like a meal, carbonated without making your nose tingle.
Indeed Brewing Company Mexican Honey
Indeed’s Mexican Honey tastes like kumquats and sunshine. There’s plenty of flower and honey sweetness that makes it go down easy like a summer Sunday on a three-day weekend. The honey evens it all out while the carbonation keeps it uplifting instead of syrupy. The only thing holding this back is that it comes in at 8 percent alcohol by volume, so no, you won’t be sipping this all day, even though the alcohol is so hidden you’d never guess it.
Founders PC Pils
This isn’t your German grandfather’s pilsner. It’s crisp and clean like a pilsner should be, but it’s also got a touch of pine and citrus hops. It’s lighter than the All Day IPA that consistently lands Founders on summer beer lists. Just don’t expect PC Pils to taste like a traditional pilsner when it comes your way. Expect it to taste like a refreshing American pilsner.
Bear Republic Pace Car
The first smell coming off Pace Car is like a full, delicious, West Coast IPA. There’s a hoppy bitterness to it that sticks with you and keeps you wanting one more sip. It’s a summer beer with full flavor but a day drinking level of alcohol (4 percent alcohol by volume). It’s a good summer beer to sip during the day sitting outside and ride that drinking into the night by a bonfire.
21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon
This is another watermelon beer that stays on the natural side of the flavor spectrum rather than verging on Jolly Rancher flavor. Hell or High Watermelon smells like a fresh-cut slice of watermelon and tastes like a well-made wheat beer. It’s clean tasting and fresh with low carbonation, giving the beer a velvety feel. Subtlety wins out here for a fruit beer worth seeking out.
This beer is for both the people who love beer and the people who don’t like beer. It’s made with Rodenbach ale (a Flanders red ale aged in oak), cherries, and elderberries. It’s more refreshing than a juice cocktail, but with the balance and nuance of a well-made beer. It’s the kind of drink you want to keep in endless supply for scorching hot days.
Garage Brewing Co Blueberry Cream Ale
Summer beers don’t always have to be tart and clean. Ice cream is good in the summer, too. This Blueberry Cream Ale is a mouthful of blueberry with a sweetness that keeps the beer’s identity as a beer through and through. If you like ice cream, blueberry, and beer, you’ll love this Garage Brewing’s Blueberry Cream Ale.
Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale
It’s easy to get lost thinking that craft beer has to be big, bold, and overwhelmingly flavorful. It doesn’t. Craft breweries can make some of the cleanest-tasting, simple summer beers out there. Brooklyn Brewery’s Summer Ale is the perfect example. It’s a light mix of British pale malt and German pilsner malt that washes your mouth clean, leaving your taste buds neutral and refreshed. Time to fire up the grill.
Dogfish Head SeaQuench Ale
A kolsh, a gose, and a Berliner Weisse walk into a bar, and Germany’s three favorite summer beer styles find friendship. That’s the story of the SeaQuench Ale (kind of). It’s a mix of those three beers, brewed with black limes and sea salt. It’s as tart as it sounds while maintaining structure with just the right amount of saltiness to bring all the flavors together.
Urban Chestnut Brewing Company Ku’damm Berliner Weisse
Ku’damm kicks off with a mouthwatering lemony tartness, then eases into a full wheat beer with subtle hops. The sour of this beer is what makes it stand out. It’s a mouthwatering sour flavor that deserves to be consumed while sitting next to the water — but don’t limit yourself; it’s a really good beer no matter the location you’re drinking it.
Cape May Brewing Co. Summer Catch
Catch “a wave of citrusy freshness” via this Belgian-style wheat ale. It’s lemony and grapefruit and orange peel and American hops that taste like you’re standing amidst hop pellets in citrus juice. It maintains a nice wheat and banana note with some bitter hoppiness as well. It’s the type of beer to drink all day on the beach or the Jersey Shore.
Maui Brewing Co. Mango Hefeweizen
This is fruit beer done right. The smell of freshly peeled mango hits the nose as soon as you open the can up and it follows through into the taste alongside a hint of banana. It’s the first thing you notice before tasting the filling yet refreshing hefeweizen that is oh so malleable and yet still so flavorful. This is a summer sipper with a strong, stout can for traveling. It’s not candy-sweet, and it’s not extract fruit. It’s fresh mango without the stringy mango fibers.
Narragansett Summertime Citra Ale
This is your best bet for the price. You want something that’s flavorful enough to act as more than mouthwash for your burger and hot dogs? Summertime Citra Ale. Something that’s light enough to feel like it’s replenishing your body after a long day of sweating? Summertime Citra Ale. It’s not necessarily a lawnmower beer (although it’s not not a lawnmower beer, either) but it’s perfect for a backyard barbecue or served in the sand. It sticks to the original as being super light yet brings a little more to the table.
Upslope Brewing Company Thai Style White IPA
This beer is loaded with “snowmelt” Thai basil, lemongrass, and Belgian wit yeast that gives it that classic Belgian beer taste of clove with a nice brightening sourness to it. It’s light and bright with plenty of spice to keep you interested. You want this in your hand during the summer — especially if you’re outside eating grilled fish or spicy food.
Samuel Adams Berliner Weisse
Sam Adams’ Berliner Weisse is a nice sour that makes your mouth drizzle. It’s lemony tart while keeping a beer feel in your mouth. I want this when I’m sweating and in deep need of effervescence and refreshment.
New Belgium Juicy Watermelon
First things first: This likely doesn’t taste like what you think it will. It’s not overwhelmingly watermelon or citrus; it’s more subtle hints of watermelon and tart lime. The finish of the beer has a more pronounced watermelon taste, though, however subtle. Go into this beer knowing that, and you just might fall in love with natural flavors over oppressively sweet and candy flavors some fruit beers bring to the table.
Birra Antoniana Altinate Italian Pale Lager
This Italian import smells malty and a little sweet, but tastes green and is much more refreshing than you’d assume at first sniff. It’s got the refreshing feel of a lager but the maltiness of an ale. It cools you down and is refreshing, but also isn’t so thin that you chug it and forget it like some backwash beer. The Italian craft brewery has its beers for sale in the U.S. for the first time this summer.
Ayinger Bavarian Pils
This beer is everything that a pilsner should be, therefore everything that summer should be (especially if you’re celebrating Summer of Pils like you should be). It’s mild and cleansing with a crisp finish and slightly grassy and grain notes. The carbonation is on the higher end, filling your mouth with joy. It’s a porch beer, it’s a beach beer, it’s a pool beer, it’s a summer beer.
Temperance Beer Co. Greenwood Beach
This beer is a blonde ale with pineapple that has just the slightest touch of pineapple toward the end asking for you to take another sip. It’s light and clean tasting with a noticeable hop presence that makes itself present but doesn’t overwhelm the beer. Many of the best summer beers trade big and bold for subtle and clean, and Greenwood Beach executes subtle and clean flawlessly.
Blue Point Beach Plum Gose
A beer that’s as refreshing as it is true to Long Island. The Beach Plum Gose uses Long Island beach plums and local sea salt for a beer that’s just the right balance of salty and sour. It’s an all-day beer that satisfies any cravings you have — whether it’s for tart, salt, or, obviously, beer.
Sweetwater Brewing Company TripleTail Tropical IPA
Tropical IPAs have become a staple at many breweries across the country — and for good reason. Tropical fruit flavors like pineapple, mango, and passionfruit belong with American IPA flavors. Sweetwater’s TripleTail layers tropical notes on top of a malty IPA base for a taste of summer that’ll make you feel like you’re close to the equator. Open up a TripleTail for a good IPA with a solid malt presence and floral hops complemented by present (but not overwhelming) fruit flavors.
Flying Dog Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale
Flying Dog’s Dead Rise is a beer brewed with the iconic Old Bay seafood seasoning. Bear with me. There are many beers (see above) on this list that go great with barbecue, and some that go well with fish. But putting Old Bay right into your beer for a citrusy hop flavor paired with the distinguishable taste of Old Bay is downright fish-friendly. Get this beer while near the water next to a grill with a whole fish or shrimp and crawfish cooking.
Sierra Nevada Summerfest
This beer is clean and dry — just like a good pilsner should be. Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest Czech-style pilsener is the light and easy-drinking beer you need when the weather’s so hot that sitting down works up a sweat.
Stiegl Zitrone Lemon Radler
Maybe you can’t drink a full- (or even half-) strength beer on a summer day due to work constraints, social pressure, etc. Stiegl has the answer with a lemon radler that avoids the Lemonhead sweetness that some radlers can verge into. It’s a beer that you should be drinking when you shouldn’t really be drinking.