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.