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The Best Summer Beers To Chase Down This June

Summer officially arrives this month. Usually, this would mark the beginning of a season of travel, backyard BBQs with the crew, and long weekends in beer gardens at our favorite breweries. The way 2020 is unfolding, it’s hard to know how this summer (or year) will play out at all, but the key phrase is “scaled down.” Expect everything to be socially distanced and a whole lot more mellow.

Like so many industries in the COVID-era, the craft beer community is struggling right now. These businesses, usually such cornerstones of their cities and gathering places for local residents, are in grave danger. Any support you can offer to your local brewery makes a difference right now. You’ll be supporting your neighbors who work on brewery floors, drive delivery trucks, stock grocery coolers, and fill growlers in taprooms. Plus you’ll get some great beer out of the deal.

Hopefully, the eight beers we’re calling out this month will pique your interest and inspire you to explore exciting expressions made near you. The picks below are regional craft beer releases from breweries that we vouch for (we weren’t able to taste them all this month because of the continued pandemic, so we’re offering tasting notes from the brewers where necessary). Each one has something unique to say as Summer 2020 nears.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST DROP: Elysian Salute The Sun

Style: Pale Ale
Abv: 5.2%
Brewery Location: Seattle, WA

The Beer:

Salute the Sun is Seattle-based Elysian’s perennial summer seasonal drop. The beer is a mellow ale with three malts and to malted oats in the base alongside a big dose of Citra hops. The beer is then conditioned with sun-dried black limes to add a unique layer to the beer while keeping it very light.

Tasting Notes:

The Citra hops are front-and-center with a mildly dank but boldly citrus-forward nature. The sip remains effervescent with a clear tartness that leans towards a sense of lime zest bitterness. The brew keeps the refreshing edge of big citrus and tart notes with a long finish.

SOUTHWEST DROP: Stone Enjoy By 07.04.20

Style: Unfiltered IPA
Abv: 9.4%
Brewery Location: Escondido, CA

The Beer:

Stone’s latest Enjoy By IPA is an unfiltered IPA much like last year’s version. We guess if it ain’t broke…

The beer is brewed specifically to be enjoyed now. It’s also well-hopped with 12 different hop varietals. The unfiltered nature gives an interesting haziness similar to a NEIPA, with a clear West Coast IPA dankness, making this one hard-hitting beer.

Tasting Notes:

Hops. Hops. Hops. There’s a rush of stone fruit leaning towards ripe peaches next to a clear piney resin dank. Tropical fruit cuts through the dank as a yeasty and malty flourish takes a backseat to the big hoppy bitterness, fruit, and more dankness the whole way through. Be careful though, there are a lot of ABVs hiding under that alluring and refreshing fruitiness.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN DROP: Upslope Tea Shandy

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Style: Ale
Abv: 4.2%
Brewery Location: Boulder, CO

The Beer:

Upslope’s Tea Shandy is made to be sipped all summer long. The very sessionable 4.2 percent ABV means you can do just that. Generally, a shandy would be light lager mixed with Sprite or some other fruity soda. This beer takes a craft route by brewing the suds with the elements of an Arnold Palmer — lemons and black tea — right in the beer.

Tasting Notes:

This is almost too easy to sip. There’s a clear sweetness that rings like an Arnold Palmer but it works with the mildness of the ale malt flavors. Very mild hints of hops remind you that, yes, this is beer. Overall, the sheer drinkability of this summer sipper means you might end up drinking a whole six-pack in one sunny backyard session.

SOUTHERN DROP: Boulevard Cherry Lime Radler

Style: Radler
Abv: 4.1%
Brewery Location: Kansas City, MO

The Beer:
Cherry Lime Radler from Kansas City’s Boulevard is meant to be sipped on a hot summer day. The addition of counterpointing flavors of limes and cherry, the beer brings a quaffability that screams summertime.

Tasting Notes (from the brewer):

“Zesty, refreshing and a little bit of a throwback to the tastes of childhood, our Cherry Lime Radler is summer-in-a-can. Radlers, in general, are brewed to be thirst-quenching in warm weather.”

MIDWEST DROP: Revolution Brewing and Piece Pizzeria & Brewery Little Dreamer

Style: Extra Pale Ale
Abv: 5%
Brewery Location: Chicago, IL

The Beer:

Little Dreamer is a collaboration between damn-near iconic Chicago institutions Revolution Brewery and Piece Pizzeria & Brewery (which has some of the best New Haven-style pies outside of Connecticut). Together, they’ve brewed a beer that keeps things dialed into a pale ale quality that almost leans into the heavier notes of an IPA.

Tasting Notes (from the brewers):

“Nice, sessionable, hoppy, crushable extra pale ale. Perfect for warm weather and pairing with pizza.”

NORTHEAST DROP: Hill Farmstead Self-Reliance: German-Grown Cascade

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𝐂𝐮𝐫𝐛𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐑𝐞𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐥 𝐉𝐮𝐧𝐞 𝟑, 𝟒, 𝟓 𝐚𝐭 𝐇𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐅𝐚𝐫𝐦𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐝⁣ ⁣ For this coming week, we will continue to offer a diverse selection of bottles to-go, plus we will add two new cans, a new Self-Reliance edition, and a guest growler option from Russian River for contactless, curbside ordering.⁣ ⁣ * 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐲 (16 oz., 4-packs) – Our single decocted, unfiltered, and naturally carbonated German-style Pilsner⁣ ⁣ * 𝐃𝐨𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐌𝐨𝐭𝐮𝐞𝐤𝐚 (12 oz., 6-packs) – Our double IPA brewed exclusively with hand-selected Motueka™ hops from our agricultural partners at Freestyle Farms in Upper Moutere, New Zealand⁣ ⁣ * 𝐒𝐞𝐥𝐟-𝐑𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞: 𝐆𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐧-𝐆𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐂𝐚𝐬𝐜𝐚𝐝𝐞 (750ml) – This release was brewed in February of 2019, generously hopped with Cascade hops sourced from Germany, and aged in oak puncheons for 5 months prior to bottling. ⁣ ⁣ * 𝐑𝐮𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐑𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫: 𝐇𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐲 𝐇𝐨𝐩𝐬 (750ml growlers) – An incredibly hoppy IPA with an immense hop aroma and flavor and a mild bitterness.⁣ ⁣ ⁣ Cans of Citra® IPA and Society & Solitude #4 are still available, as well as a full selection of other bottled offerings (including limited releases of Civil Disobedience #29, E., and a small amount of Biere de Norma). ⁣ ⁣ If so inclined, inspect our most current offerings and order for curbside pick-up at www.toasttab.com/hillfarmstead/. You may schedule your pick-ups for Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day.⁣ ⁣ A continuing reminder that the Executive Order and State of Emergency are extended through Monday, 15 June 2020. The order advises against non-essential travel and requests that anyone entering Vermont self-monitor and home-quarantine for at least 14 days. If you’ve been in Vermont 14 days or more, regardless of your license plate, feel free to order and pick up. In the spirit of the order—and, most importantly, for the safety of our community and team—we will continue to follow these guidelines. ⁣ ⁣ We once again thank you for your understanding, support, and patience.

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Style: Pale Ale
Abv: 6%
Brewery Location: Greensboro Bend, VT

The Beer:

Self-Reliance: German-Grown Cascade channels Ralph Waldo Emerson while leaning into expert brewing and aging. This ale was hopped with a single hop varietal to showcase the beauty of that flower — in this case, a German Cascade hop. The ale is then aged in oak puncheons for five months before bottling.

Tasting Notes (from the brewer):

“This new series allows us to showcase each hop’s characteristics within the framework of our delicately tart, lightly effervescent base beer.”

WILD CARD DROP: Surly Grapefruit Supreme

Style: Tart Ale
Abv: 4.5%
Brewery Location: Minneapolis, MN

The Beer:

Grapefruit Supreme is from Minneapolis brewery Surly Brewing. The brewery has delayed their phased reopening to respect the protests happening in the city right now. So if you can, maybe grab a few beers via pick-up to help them stay afloat.

Tasting Notes (from the brewer):

“Braced by bright grapefruit flavor and gentle tartness, this beer reigns supreme. Finishing crisp and citrusy, it sets a new standard for crushable.”

INT’L PICK OF THE MONTH: Budvar (Czechvar)

Style: Pale Lager
Abv: 5%
Brewery Location: České Budějovice, CZ

The Beer:

Budvar — which has to be called “Czechvar” in the U.S. and a few other markets because of American Budweiser legal brouhahas — is a classic pale lager that works perfectly as a great summer sipper. The Czech “Budweiser” has a heft that reminds you how great simple beer can be without overpowering any one part of the drinking experience.

Tasting Notes:

The golden liquid holds clear notes of the Saaz hops with a mild sense of bitterness that’s refreshing and never overpowering. The Moravian malts form a foundation with a note of sweetness that’s almost caramel (though if it’s an older bottle, you might get a note of butterscotch). There’s a mild grassy nature that leads back to the well-balanced hops, malts, and fizz, making this a very easy beer to drink.

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