Summer is an exciting season for beer-drinking. Suddenly, radlers, shandies, citrus-spiked goses, and berry-infused everything start to appear and multiply on store shelves. Each is expertly engineered for fun, frivolity, and refreshment.
For this year’s pick of our summer favorites, we tasted dozens of new releases from trusted brewers, as well as a few new-to-the-market brands.
Here are 12 of the best summer-friendly beers we’ve tasted so far in 2019.
This reimagined summer seasonal (formerly a Belgian-style saison) has made a stylish comeback as a “tropical lager.” Translation? A pilsner base brewed with late-addition Citra, Simcoe, and Idaho 7 hops, yielding hazy, juicy fun. On the nose, orange, peach, pineapple, and passionfruit aromas pop. Its body is bright and effervescent, and bitter on the finish. “This tastes nothing like a lager,” one taster noted. “But it’s summer, who cares?”
Talea Beer Co., which currently contract brews at Torch & Crown in the Bronx, bursts with alluring passionfruit and pineapple aromas, “plus a citrusy, herbal note, like lemongrass,” one taster said. Soft and pillowy on the palate, it nails the hazy IPA mouthfeel yet dials back the intense creamy sweetness, “like a session hazy IPA,” one taster said (but watch out: It’s 6.5 percent ABV).
This pale ale brewed with koshihikari rice drew tasters in with its “nectary” dried apricot and passionfruit aromas. It’s effervescent like a brut IPA — or Champagne — with a light grain flavor and pleasant, pithy bitterness. “I could drink a bunch of these at brunch,” one taster said.
Paso Robles, Calif.
This salmon-colored ale is brewed with Chardonnay wine grapes and hibiscus. Although somewhat divisive among our panel, tasters agreed it was their favorite of all the recently released rosé-inspired beers. Strawberry and watermelon notes on the nose reminded one taster of ”a sessionable sparkling rosé.”
This low-alcohol, low-calorie (120 per 12-ounce can) pale ale is refreshing from the first glance, sniff, and sip. Its pear and peach aromas reminded one taster of “sticking your head into a fruit basket,” which is a totally normal thing to do. Its session-IPA-like flavors finish grassy and herbal.
This low-cal, light-bodied session ale starts off with grain-forward flavors, later revealing the subtlest of citrusy hop character. A great option for those who find beer too bitter, it provides “seltzer-like refreshment with a cereal finish,” one taster said.
“This makes a great breakfast beer,” one VinePair panelist said during an early tasting. Billed as a “super gose,” SuperEIGHT contains “eight heroic ingredients” — prickly pear, mango, boysenberry, blackberry, raspberry, elderberry and kiwi juices, toasted quinoa, and red Hawaiian sea salt. Bright and berry-flavored, it would make a great companion with pancakes, or a charcuterie and cheese plate.
This tropical-fruit-infused variant of Sixpoint’s Jammer has a candied-orange aroma. “Tastes like gummy bears!” one taster said. This may sound over the top, but those candy-like fruity flavors are balanced by melon-rind bitterness. “It’s a happy place between gose and hazy IPA,” another taster mused.
This hot-weather-friendly beer has a “spritzy cucumber-spa-water” aroma, light, soft body, and thirst-quenching salty note. Panelists agreed it’s as equally pleasing for gose-lovers as those unfamiliar with the style, and lime provides a familiar, refreshing flavor. “It tastes like a fun cocktail,” one taster said.
Brewed with raspberry and lemon peel, this beer pours hibiscus pink. On the nose, “it’s straight-up raspberries,” one taster said, along with a hint of lemon pith. Champagne-like effervescence complements the citrus and berry flavors, and it’s not too tart, too salty, or too sweet. This riff on a traditional gose is “definitely a delicious summer sipper,” one panelist said.
This reimagined radler subs traditional grapefruit for blood orange juice, and softens the body with wheat in the grist. As a result, it’s subtler than a typical radler but also more nuanced, suitable for lager lovers and blood orange fans alike.
Fort Collins, Colo. and Asheville, N.C.
This vibrant ale is produced in partnership with Mexico City’s Primus Cerveceria and brewed with hibiscus, agave, watermelon, and lime. It’s the ultimate summer refresher. Best of all? It was originally brewed in test batches at Primus, but is now available in all 50 U.S. states.