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Serious Beer Experts Name Their Favorite Beers For Summer 2020

The number one requirement when it comes to picking a great summer beer is simple — “Quench my thirst.” As easy as that sounds, not all beers hit the mark when temperatures start edging into the triple digits. Heavy imperial stouts are not the play. You’re going to want something light, aromatic, citrusy, sour, tart, floral, or even fruity.

To pin down which beer you should be drinking this summer, we reached out to some bona fide experts. We talked to brewers, Cicerones, historians, authors, educators, magazine editors, and leaders in the community and asked them to name their seasonal favorites. With August upon us, here are the brews that the true leaders of the industry are drinking right now.

Unite IPA – Jaega Wise, Sommelier and head brewer at Wild Card Brewing

Style: IPA
Brewery: Wild Card Brewing, Walthamstow, UK
ABV: 5.4%

The Beer:

Choosing the best beer to drink this summer is an easy one for me. On March 8th, otherwise known as International Women’s Day, over 100 women gathered to brew a beer together. Its purpose was to encourage more women in the beer industry through collaboration and education.

Together we made ‘Unite IPA.’ We decided to dedicate the beer to Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician and writer, who is widely celebrated as the first computer programmer. It’s important to recognize the work of the trailblazing women who came before us, who are often forgotten in the history books.

Tasting Notes:

Unite is a hazy, juicy IPA, double dry-hopped with the freshest Citra & Simcoe hops. This IPA has masses of mango, pineapple, and grapefruit in both the aroma and on the tongue, with a body made thick by the addition of wheat and oats.

Budweiser Budvar Original (“Czechvar”) – Evan Rail author of The Brewery in the Bohemian Forest and other award-winning books about beer.

Style: Czech Pilsner
Brewery: Budějovický Budvar, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
ABV: 5%

The Beer:

Naturally, I’m a big fan of Czech pale lager, aka světlý ležák, but the fullness of a typical Pilsner-style beer from the Czech Republic doesn’t always fit with the highest temperatures of summer — those beers are often too rich and too filling for super-hot days. When it’s really cooking out (and when I’m cooking out, on the Weber), I usually reach for the 5 percent alcohol flagship from Budweiser Budvar, often called the original Budweiser.

Because of the brewery’s ongoing, 100-year-old trademark dispute with the brand from St. Louis, North Americans will have to look for the beer under the name “Czechvar,” if they can find it at all. Exports to the States and Canada are pretty meager, especially compared to the vast volumes of Budvar that go to Germany and the U.K. Still, for me, it’s definitely worth the trouble to track this one down.

Tasting Notes:

It’s not as heavy as most Czech pale lagers, and correspondingly a lot less bitter, but it has great “Noble” aroma from the whole-cone Saaz hops used. It’s very much a throwback beer, still lagered for a full three months at extremely cold temperatures, just like they did it way back when.

Lost And Grounded Keller Pils – Natalya Watson, Beer Sommelier, author, and podcaster

Style: German Pilsner
Brewery: Lost And Grounded, Bristol, UK
ABV: 4.8%

The Beer:

My pick is Lost & Grounded Keller Pils. I had a can last night and I’m still thinking about it. That’s how good it is! Poured from the can, it looks like summer in a glass — with its beautiful golden hue and dense white head of foam.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, there’s a bready and grainy-sweet malt character with some herbal and spicy hop aromas. Then on the palate, you’ll pick up on all that delicious bready malt, as the bitterness builds to deliver a crisp, dry, and oh-so-thirst-quenching finish.

Boxcar Brewery Golden Ale – Mark Dredge, author of A Brief History of Lager

Style: Golden Ale
Brewery: BOXCAR, Bethnal Green, UK
ABV: 4.2%

The Beer:

You might expect me to pick a lager, given how I literally wrote the book on it. But there’s something about this summer which has me thirsty for a more meaningful provenance like I’m innately drawn to a local flavor. My favorite beer for that right now is Boxcar Brewery’s Golden Ale.

Tasting Notes:

Brewed a short walk away from me, it’s made with Golden Promise malt and Golding hops. It smells like fresh grain and stone fruit. It reminds me of the summery and floral hop gardens from where I grew up in Kent. It’s perfect and refreshingly English.

Green Bench Brewing Sunshine City – Latiesha Cook, Cicerone and president of Beer Kulture

Style: IPA
Brewery: Green Bench Brewing Company, St. Petersburg, FL
ABV: 6.8%

The Beer:

The beer I’d choose is Green Bench Brewing’s Sunshine City. Being a Florida resident this beer screams everything Florida Vibes to me! The beer is double dry-hopped with Mosaic, Citra, and Azacca hops.

Tasting Notes:

It smells like a day at the beach filled with peach, pineapple, nectar, and kiwis and tastes like “Bring me another!”

Mahrs Sommerpils – Andreas Krennmair, award-winning home brewer and author of Vienna Lager

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Style:
Brewery: Mahr’s Bräu, Bamberg, Germany
ABV: 2.8%

The Beer:

Mahrs Sommerpils is everything I want from a beer during a hot summer day. This straw-colored beer packs a hoppy punch of both typical German “Noble” spicy notes and an assertive citrusy aroma coming from German Perle hops. Fairly full-bodied for a beer of only 2.8 percent ABV, it’s part of a category of beers that are called “Leichtbier” (literally “light beer”) in Germany. It has enough complexity to excite traditional lager drinkers as well as friends of hoppy IPAs and Pale Ales. It won’t fatigue your palate and — most importantly — will refresh you without getting you drunk quickly.

This beer just screams “summer.” It’s one of my favorites whenever I visit the Mahrs beer garden in Bamberg, Germany.

Tasting Notes:

Very pale, glowing yellow color. Spicy and citrusy on the nose. On the palate, the subtle white bread note from the pale malt is quickly dominated by citrusy hop flavors and a long-lasting, dry bitterness that will make you want to take another sip.

Maui Brewing Shave Weisse – Greg Koch, co-founder Stone Brewing

Style: Berliner Weisse
Brewery: Maui Brewing Company, Kihei, HI
ABV: 3.8%

The Beer:

A play on the Hawaiian treat “shave ice,” this beer packs a ton of tart and refreshing flavor in a very modest 3.8 percent ABV. The result is the very definition of “crushable.” Loaded with a copious fruit punch of mango, strawberry, guava, lime, and orange — all real fruit, by the way, no extracts — the fantastic depth of flavor profile comes from both hot and cold side additions (brewer’s speak for when the fruit is added in the brewing process) and traditional kettle souring.

Tasting Notes:

This is a beer where no descriptors can fully prepare you for the actual taste. Tons of fruit, but not sweet. Brewed with sour cultures, but more tart than sour. Low ABV, but definitely not simple. All that and being talked up by a guy known for his love of big, aggressive IPAs.

Just trust me on this one and you’ll not be disappointed.

Smooth Beats Miami – Anthony Totten, Finback Brewery

Style: Coconut IPA
Brewery: Finback Brewery, New York and J. Wakefield Brewing, Miami, FL
ABV: 6.2%

The Beer:

First brewed in 2016 in collaboration with J. Wakefield Brewing out of Miami, Florida, the concept of this beer was birthed with the beach in mind. It’s no secret that the team at Finback are huge fans of coconut and the idea was to make a beer that would be a perfect tropical crusher on a warm summer day. Now, here we are four years later, and Smooth Beats Miami has become a heavily sought after annual release that often sells out immediately.

Smooth Beats Miami is usually brewed and made available once or twice during the summer months each year. Definitely one to keep an eye out for and fill your cooler with it — if you get the chance.

Tasting Notes:

I first had this beer in 2017 and was instantly blown away by how well the coconut came through given how tricky using coconut can be. Too much and a beer can taste like suntan lotion. Too little and it leaves you wanting more. Smooth Beats is coconut done to perfection. At a touch over six percent, it is super crushable, tropical, and refreshing. It pours a beautiful golden color and the coconut aroma will immediately overtake your senses. The coconut flavor is prominent upfront and will linger after every sip.

This beer instantly makes me want to be poolside or relaxing on a beach somewhere enjoying the vibes. In fact, writing this made my mouth water and, luckily, I had one last can left in the fridge to quench my thirst.

Goldspot Brewing Company Patio Party – Alyssa Thrope, head brewer Jagged Mountain Craft Brewery

Style: Fruit Sour
Brewery: Goldspot Brewing Company, Denver, CO
ABV: 4%

The Beer:

With the new mandated limited seating in taprooms, patio seating has become the new normal this summer to enjoy craft beers outside of your house. One of my favorite beers to crush this summer has been one that my good friend Kelissa and fellow brewer/owner at Goldspot Brewing Company made together right after breweries could be open again.

Tasting Notes:

Aptly named Patio Party, a lightly tart kettle sour with hefty doses of strawberry and Persian lime purees. Super refreshing, very balanced, low ABV, and perfect to crush on a patio during these hot summer months. Also makes a great mixer to an icy cocktail, especially strawberry beer-ritas!

Exale Brewing Der Titan Dortmunder Lager – Matthew Curtis, founder/editor in chief of Pellicle Magazine

Style: Dortmunder Lager
Brewery: Exale Brewing, Walthamstow, UK
ABV: 4.8%

The Beer:

For me, lockdown here in London has been all about lagers. I used to do most of my drinking at the pub, but since they were forced to close on March 20, having a few cold cans of something both reliably tasting and refreshing added a semblance of familiarity to a situation that was wholly unfamiliar.

Although now pubs have reopened, I feel as though my beer drinking habits have been irrevocably altered. Maybe one day I’ll rediscover that joy of seeking out something new and unknown, but for now, cold and crispy is the order of the day. My perennial favorite over the past few months has been Der Titan, a Dortmunder style beer from Exale Brewing here in Walthamstow, London, inspired by the classic DAB Premium German lager.

Tasting Notes:

It pours a little hazy from the can and gives off bready aromas, with a little yeast ester adding a hint of red berry to the mix. To taste it’s simple and uncomplicated, with just a scratch of malt and a sniff of hop bitterness lending an extra kick of crispy refreshment to a dry finish. I have a feeling it’ll be a fridge staple of mine for a long time to come.

Rolling Stone Lager – Joe Bisacca, co-founder Elysian Brewing

Style: Lager
Brewery: Elysian Brewing Company, Seattle, WA
ABV: 4.8%

The Beer:

Recently, I was working on a partnership with Rolling Stone Magazine and was asked to come up with a beer. For me, a Rolling Stone Lager would be something I’d love for a concert, seeing my favorite band, or listening to (or playing) music with friends. All things you’d want to do in the summer.

Tasting Notes:

The beer is crisp, has a mid-level ABV, and well balanced so I can drink it all night long. We made a lager at 4.8 percent ABV that I’ve been drinking it all summer. Here’s my plan: start with Rolling Stone Lager while it’s hot out, move to Space Dust IPA at dinner, and end with a few unusual rare things throughout the night. The best thing about beer is the exploration, the discovery of something new.

Track Brewing Co. Sonoma – Cory Smith, beer writer and photographer

Style: Pale Ale
Brewery: Track Brewing Company, Manchester, UK
ABV: 3.8%

The Beer:

The days in Denmark are long. Summer is here, which is a cause for celebration — with beverages naturally. I’ve been enamored with the wealth of beers I’ve found in Europe that are pushing ABV numbers ever lower while refusing to sacrifice flavor. Sub-four-percent beers are not uncommon and I’m here for it. Track’s Sonoma is probably my favorite example and I want an endless supply of it in my fridge.

Tasting Notes:

This is a beer for drinking. Sonoma’s body is light, but not thin. The hops shine, but don’t punish your palate the way a huge DIPA might on a warm summer day. Citrus notes and bitterness are balanced deftly. When it hits the shelves at my local beer shop, stocking up is requisite. My only criticism is that Copenhagen doesn’t get it as often as I’d like. It makes a good argument for relocating to Manchester.

2nd Shift Brewing Art of Neurosis – Joe Stange, co-author CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide To Belgium and managing editor Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine

Style: American IPA
Brewery: 2nd Shift Brewing, St. Louis, MO
ABV: 7.6%

The Beer:

The beer I’m enjoying most at the moment is Art of Neurosis from 2nd Shift in St. Louis. It’s an old-school “Midwest Coast” IPA that used to be very new-school, but beer trends seem to race ahead into new things and leave some great ones behind. Some brands litter the roadside, forgotten; others survive and continue to reward. I’ve been drinking AON for years.

Tasting Notes:

It remains a showcase of big, light, sweet malt in balance with a citrus-forward punch of hop flavor, with reassuring edges of pine and dank-bud. It’s bitter but fully cushioned by that comforting malt and residual sweetness. (We like our calories here in the Midwest.) I bought a keg from the brewery so we could have it on tap here at the farm. A big glass of it goes down like a treat with spicy snacks and hot weather.

Schneeeule Marlene – Zach Johnston, Deputy Editor UPROXX Life, podcaster One More Road For The Beer

Style: Berliner Weisse
Brewery: Schneeeule Brauerei, Berlin, Germany
ABV: 3.5%

The Beer:

I’m very lucky that I get to live in Berlin. One of the perks is the local beer and food scene. An internal part of the local craft beer scene has been the revival of the local ale, Berliner Weisse. Since Berlin was built on (and literally means) swamp, they couldn’t dig the cellars needed to lager beer. So they made their own wheated ale that didn’t need lagering. The style was so popular that over 500 micro-breweries for Berliner Weisse dotted the city by the 1800s. The sour, low-ABV beer had won the hearts of the local population as Berliners would gather to drink the stuff in small platzes straight from vats in huge glasses. Then the popularity faded as industrialization arrived and allowed for lagering in huge facilities.

The main reason I know this history is because of one woman who has strived to bring Berliner Weisse back to the streets of Berlin. Ulrike Genz is a beer savant. Her deep love of the style and history of Berlin Weisse has led to her founding and operating a brewery devoted to Berliner Weisse, Schneeeule or “Snow Owl”. The beer Genz makes is a masterclass in the style and varies according to locally foraged adjuncts that help spice up the beer. It’s one the purest and best-crafted beers overall, making the best damned Berliner Weisse there is.

Tasting Notes:

While I like Berliner Weisse with a little kick from things like ginger and chili, I find myself reaching for the standard Marlene more often than not. The beer opens with a hint of sourdough bread, citrus zest, and a note of brine. The taste builds with a salted buttery creaminess that’s counterpointed by the sour funk, tart apple, and continued refreshing burst of more citrus. All that funk, citrus, sourdough bread, yeastiness, and creamy sour combine in the glass to make for one of the most refreshing sips you’ll ever have on a hot summer day.

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