On one of those brutally hot, humid, days — the types of days you talk about years later, where your shirt seems to stick to your body all day long and you prefer the humming, manufactured cool of central air to the blistering heat of the midday sun — what kind of beer do you imagine drinking to quench your monumental thirst?
Certainly not a stout, porter, or some other dark beer. No, for this challenge, you need the coldest, crispiest, most thirst-quenching, easy-drinking beers. Pilsners and lagers usually fit that bill.
There are plenty to choose from, but this time around we did the work for you. We found eight of the crispiest summer beers widely available at stores and tasted them blindly. Then we rated and ranked the best of the bunch. Here’s the lineup:
- Sixpoint The Crisp
- Schilling Alexandr
- Upland Champagne Velvet
- Pilsner Urquell
- Bitburger Premium Pilsner
- Founders Solid Gold
- Brooklyn Pilsner
- Jack’s Abby Post Shift Pilsner
Part 1: The Tasting
Subtle caramel malts, floral hops, grains, and slight citrus are prevalent on the nose. The taste follows suit with earthy, grassy flavors that pair well with floral, slightly spicy hops, sweet malts, and a crisp, dry finish that leaves you craving more.
From my tasting notes: A very crushable, crisp beer.
On the nose, I found aromas of wet grass, floral hops, Meyer lemons, and bready malts. The palate is as crisp as I’d hope with flavors like caramel malts, lemon zest, more earthy grass, floral hops, and slight pine at the finish that brings everything together nicely. All in all, a very complex, memorable, summery beer.
Corn, honey, citrus zest, and not much else. But what else would you want in an easy-drinking beer, right? The palate is slightly more complex with lemon peel, bread-like malt, and grains taking center stage with a slightly bitter finish. All in all, fairly bland in overall flavor. But not a terrible beer.
On the nose, I found some caramel malts, wet grass, lemon zest, and freshly-baked bread. With all of that, the palate was slightly underwhelming with more earthy grass, some grains, and a slight lemon. Otherwise, muted.
From my tasting notes: The finish was dry and pleasing, but I wish there was a little more complexity in the overall flavor.
Complex aromas of yeasty bread, slight skunk, floral hops, grains, and sweet corn were notable on the nose. Drinking it only added to the experience with flavors like wet grass, wheat, bready malt, floral hops, sweet corn, and slight citrus. The finish is dry, clean, and refreshing.
Aromas of floral hops, slight fruity flavors, sweet corn, lemon curd, and grains are found on this beer’s nose. On the palate, I found more sweet corn, bready malts, lemon zest, floral hops, and a nice, dry, crisp, dry finish.
From my tasting notes: I was left craving another one immediately.
Not much going on with this beer’s nose. There are hints of grains, some bread, and floral hops. But really nothing else of note. The flavor is surprisingly light with some caramel malts, slight citrus, and some spicy hops. The finish is dry and pleasing, but this beer was as close to yellow, fizzy water as I’ve had in a long time.
Sweet corn, floral hops, citrus, and gentle spices on the nose were simple and clean and immediately drew me in. The palate continued this trend with notes of caramel malts, more sugary corn, slightly bitter hops, a light fruity flavor, and a clean, dry finish.
From my tasting notes: This beer is simple, flavorful, and highly refreshing.
Part 2: The Ranking
8) Bitburger Premium Pilsner (Taste 7)
Average Price: $6.50 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
Brewed since 1909, Bitburger Premium Pilsner is one of the most popular beers in Germany for a reason. Brewed based on Germany’s Beer Purity Laws, this beer is known for its light, crisp, slightly hoppy, malty flavor profile.
Clearly, Bitburger drinkers don’t enjoy it for its complex flavor profile, as it’s non-existent. It tastes like someone tried to make a beer-flavored hard seltzer.
7) Founders Solid Gold (Taste 3)
Average Price: $7.99 for a six-pack
With a name like Solid Gold, you better believe this is a throwback to crispy days gone by. This 4.4% ABV, year-round lager was created to be an easy-drinking, classic beer and was brewed with lager yeast, corn, and Lemondrop hops. It’s hard to argue with that.
If you’re looking for a crushable, easy-to-drink beer without much substance, Solid Gold is your jam. If you want a little more flavor, look elsewhere.
6) Jack’s Abby Post Shift Pilsner (Taste 4)
Average Price: $9.50 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
With a name like Post Shift Pilsner, you know exactly what you’re getting when you crack open this beer — a sessionable, easy-drinking, crisp lager designed to be imbibed after a long work day.
Jack’s Abby Post Shift Pilsner serves its purpose. It’s a crushable, refreshing, no-frills beer. It’s not supposed to be overly complex and it isn’t.
5) Sixpoint The Crisp (Taste 1)
Average Price: $10.99 for a six-pack
This 4.5% ABV German-style pilsner is known for its (wait for it) crisp, refreshing, slightly floral, hoppy flavor.
With a name like The Crisp, I’m not surprised this is a totally crushable, flavorful, crisp beer. It’s a great beer to drink all summer long.
4) Upland Champagne Velvet (Taste 8)
Average Price: $9.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
We’ve all heard about “The Champagne of Beers” also known as Miller High Life, but what about Champagne Velvet? That sounds pretty luxurious to me. Brewed since 1902, this European-style pilsner is made with Bohemian lager yeast, Pilsner and Carapils malts, corn, and Cluster and Tettnang hops.
This was my first experience with Upland’s Champagne Velvet and I was pleasantly surprised. It doesn’t have a ton of different flavors. But what it does have totally works.
3) Pilsner Urquell (Taste 5)
Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack
Pilsner Urquell is the brand that started it all. This OG pilsner created the style of beer when Josef Groll introduced it back in 1842. Drinkers all over the world still gravitate towards this beer on hot summer days. It’s known for its low-ABV, and crisp, refreshing flavor.
Pilsner Urquell is a classic beer. I’m not surprised that this complex, well-balanced, crispy pilsner landed so highly on this list.
2) Schilling Alexandr (Taste 2)
Average Price: $13.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
Schilling is one of those breweries that produces nothing but delicious, noteworthy beers. Alexandr is no different. This sessionable pale lager is made to pay tribute to the floral, crisp, refreshing beers that came before it in the Czech Republic.
I’ve never had a beer from Schilling that I didn’t enjoy. The key to why this beer is so great is simplicity and balance. Slight malts, floral hops, and citrus. This beer has everything crisp beer drinkers could want.
1) Brooklyn Pilsner (Taste 6)
Average Price: $15.99 for a six-pack
Brooklyn Pilsner is here to add some much-needed refreshment to your summer. This 5% ABV “Crisp Pilsner” was created to be an easy-drinking, crisp, refreshing, thirst-quencher for you to enjoy from now until forever. Or at least until the end of summer.
Brooklyn Pilsner is touted as a “Crisp Pilsner” and that’s exactly what it is. I’m not surprised to see that took the top spot. It’s a simple, balanced, easy-drinking beer. The kind of beer you want to drink all day long.
Part 3: Final Thoughts
After finishing this blind taste test and ranking I learned one very important thing: when it comes to crisp beers, there needs to be a healthy balance between muted, boring aromas and flavors and having too much going on. Simplicity and balance are key when making a crisp, easy-drinking beer. The beers that fit that bill landed higher on the rankings.