It’s hard to define what makes the perfect summer beer. Suds are subjective. You’re unique and so is your palate. Still, there are a few core elements we look for in an iconic May-September brew. First and foremost? Low ABV. Summer drinking often starts as day-drinking and stretches well into the night, you simply can’t be pounding high ABV beers in that scenario. Next, it needs to have a refreshing nature. That could mean anything from a classic adjunct lager like Miller Lite to a fancy-schmancy Berliner Weisse from your local craft brewery. Lastly, the beer has to be a crowdpleaser — pairing well with campfires, grilled food, and good times.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on one dang beer. So it’s important to remember that summer is meant for playing. Experiment! Test and re-test! Get weird with your picks until you find “the one” for you! With any luck you’ll have your perfect summer-session brew by August 1, then have a month to savor it. To help in your search, we’ve compiled our picks for the 19 essential beers of summer. We’ve broken our list up into three categories: 1) beers worth traveling for this summer, 2) craft brew you can score nationwide, and 3) international brews with an American presence.
Let’s dive in and get tipsy!
BEERS WORTH TRAVELING FOR:
Tea Shandy, Upslope Brewing Company — Boulder, CO
Colorado has a lot going for it. Legal weed statewide and decriminalized mushrooms in Denver are just the tip of the cool AF iceberg in the Rocky Mountain State. There’s a killer brew scene in Boulder that’s 100 percent worth a summer weekend trip.
Upslope Brewing Company’s summer release, Tea Shandy, hits those summer vibes with light freshness. This is an Arnold Palmer is a glass. The beer is brewed with a fresh lemon puree and black tea leaves. There are hints of tart citrus and bitter black tea at play alongside sweet maltiness. This is summer in a can.