Though you’ll see it scrawled on dozens of bottles and cans in the next month or two, technically there’s no such style as a “summer beer/ale.” What constitutes a so-called summer ale is actually a wheat beer, blonde ale, koslch, or some kind of pilsner variation. The name “summer beer” has been popular since the early ‘80s, when famed San Francisco brewery Anchor released their first iteration of Anchor Summer Beer. It was a light, refreshing wheat beer (in fact, it’s now called Anchor Summer Wheat). In the subsequent years, other brewers have hopped on the bandwagon.
What can we say? Summer sells.
Since summer beer is more or less a made-up style — meant to describe juicy, refreshing, or light summer flavors — can a Mexican lager be a summer beer? If you drink it during the summer, sure. How about an IPA? Are you enjoying it on a sunny day with your feet in a kiddie pool? Then why not? You get the idea. This isn’t rocket science.
We asked some of your favorite brewers to help us pin down the style a little better by recommending their favorite summer beers. They didn’t all stick to beers with “summer” in the title, but they definitely made picks that capture the spirit of the season.
Brian Morris, innovation brewer at Deep Ellum Brewing Company
Isn’t any beer you drink in the summer technically a “summer beer”? Well, I tend to drink a ton of Pacifico throughout the summer. Light, refreshing — you can’t go wrong with that combination.
Victory Summer Love
Chris Amcher, head brewer at Blue Point Brewing Company
My go-to summer beer actually has “summer” in its name. When summer comes along, I like to drink a Victory Summer Love. It’s a crisp, refreshing pale ale, perfect for the summer months.
Firestone Walker 805
Andy Ingram, brewmaster and co-founder at Four Peaks Brewing Company
Not sure of its reach, nationally, but it’s pretty easy to find 805 around the West. You can always count on Firestone Walker to make clean, fresh beer. It’s a great first beer to have while deciding what your next beer will be.
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🇺🇸HAPPY 4th!🇺🇸 Our Waterfront Biergarten is open 12-10pm today! Join us for $5 pints of Independence Pale Ale all day & a great view of the Big Bay Boom fireworks at 9pm! #eppigbrewing #redwhiteandbrews #independenceday #july4th #bigbayboom #sandiego #fireworks #sdbeer #indiebeer #makeitEPPIG
Shawn Steele, director of brewing operations at Coronado Brewing Company
Eppig Zwickelbier is my go-to summer beer because it’s awesome and not many breweries make this style. It’s a young, dry-hopped, unfiltered lager that’s fresh and light, with enough bitterness to keep it interesting. Overall, it’s easy to crush and you can taste the craftsmanship.
Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose
Eric Warner, brewmaster at Karbach Brewing Co.
My favorite summer beer that I don’t make would have to be fruited goses. They are refreshing, quenching, have low ABV, and are hydrating (salt = electrolytes). One of the best is Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose
Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale
Rhett Dougherty, head brewer at Veza Sur Brewing Co.
Deschutes Brewery’s Twilight. The way that Deschutes is able to embody the feeling of a summer evening at Twilight into a beer is amazing. This malt-forward light beer is freshened up with Amarillo hops for an amazing summer drinking experience.
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Oberon Day is equivalent to a holiday in my mind & I’m not sorry 💁♀️ Oberon is the mark of summer as any good Michigander knows! ✋The release party at Good Bottle was super fun, they had regular Oberon & the Mango Habanero version, lots of cans to stock my fridge, and a raffle where I won a hat! 🧢 Kick back, drink an Oberon, and relish in the fact that summer is right around the corner! ☀️ • • 🍺: Oberon, Wheat Ale from @bellsbrewery at @goodbottleco
Cameron Compton, brewmaster at Midwest Coast Brewing
Bell’s Oberon. It’s a great wheat beer, and places start to promote it more when the weather starts to turn in Chicago. It lets the world know that we’re almost through another winter and ready to enjoy the best summer city in the nation.
Shiner Bock Strawberry Blonde
Brad Manske, beverage director at ViewHouse VH Beer
Shiner Bock Strawberry Blonde because it’s light and refreshing. It’s made with pale and wheat malts, fresh local strawberries creating a crisp and smooth beer.
Montauk Summer Ale
Scott Francis, co-founder, president & CEO of Santa Monica Brew Works
I’m originally from Long Island, New York, and visit often. So, it’s got to be Montauk Brewery’s Summer Ale. Great tasting session beer with a refreshing finish. Our brewery shares the same “come as you are and celebrate life” beach philosophy as Montauk Brewery – – only we do it 3000 miles away and on the opposite side of the country.