Life

The Best Summer Craft Beers To Chase Down This July

Summer is in full swing. The days are long and getting increasingly hot. Burnout levels are certainly high. Now’s the time for a cold, refreshing, light beer to quench your thirst and keep you in good spirits. That doesn’t mean bars though. Depending on where you are in the country, you’re more than likely drinking at home or a socially-distanced outdoor space. Time to see what your local craft breweries have available for curbside pick up and sip that beer on your porch while contemplating the universe.

Regardless of where you enjoy them, for us, summer beers need to be three things. First and foremost, they should be light. A heavy imperial stout that tastes like the perfect remedy to a cold winter’s day just isn’t what we reach for when we’ve got swimsuits on. Next, we’d argue that citrus and fruit-forward sips are key. If they’re not refreshing, what are we even doing here? Finally, low-alcohol or sessionable beers win out more often than not. With long afternoons that roll right into the evening, you should be able to drink more than one without falling down.

Hopefully, the eight beers we’re calling out this month will pique your interest and inspire you to explore exciting expressions made near you or at your closest bottle shop. 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). Give them a try as Summer 2020 heads into the dog days.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST DROP: Alaskan Fireweed Blonde

Style: American Blonde Ale
ABV: 4.5%
Brewery Location: Juneau, AK

The Beer:

Alaskan’s Fireweed Blonde embraces the fields of wild fireweed that grows in the boreal forests of the far north. The beer infuses fireweed honey into the brew to add a unique depth that gives a very particular fingerprint of the Alaskan wilds, especially in the summer.

Tasting Notes (from the brewer):

“Brewed with a touch of Fireweed honey, this light-bodied ale is easy drinking and approachable, with a crisp and smooth character, low bitterness, and a light malty finish.”

SOUTHWEST DROP: Sierra Nevada Otra Vez

Style: Gose-Style Ale
ABV: 4.9%
Brewery Location: Chico, CA

The Beer:

Sierra Nevada brews a lot of great options for summer sipping. Their Otra Vez has become a mainstay for those looking to err closer to savory and herbaceous with a sweet edge. The beer is brewed with limes and agave syrup to add a distinctly Californian feel to the classic German beer.

Tasting Notes:

Lime dominates up top with a clear sense of fresh agave in the background. The beer’s palate carries on with the lime alongside a general burst of bright citrus. There’s a slight tang to the whole sip that kind of asks you if you’d like a shot of tequila with your beer.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN DROP: New Belgium and Cerveceris Primus Mural Agua Fresca Cerveza

Style: Fruit and Field Beer
ABV: 4%
Brewery Location: Fort Collins, CO

The Beer:

Mural from Colorado’s New Belgium and Mexico City’s Cerveceris Primus blends light beer with real fruit to create a sort of bridge between the world of beer and hard seltzers. The calories and sugar content are very low, yet the sip still feels like you’re drinking beer and not just bubbly water.

Tasting Notes:

Fruit is front-and-center on the sip. The Watermelon Lime variety is the boldest, with a bright sense of freshly squeezed lime next to cold watermelon juice. A hint of fresh hibiscus centers the agave syrup sweetness as the citrusy lime carries through to the end.

SOUTHERN DROP: Abita Brewing Purple Haze

Style: Fruited Lager
ABV: 4.2%
Brewery Location: Covington, LA

The Beer:

Purple Haze is a year-round offering from Abita. But we’d argue that now’s the perfect time to crack one open. The base of lager yeasts with Pilsner and wheat malts is spiked with fresh raspberries, adding a distinctly purple hue and true fruitiness to the light beer.

Tasting Notes:

Raspberries greet you with a hint of the malts. The beer leans into the tartness of the red berries with a light lager underpinning that’s very easy to drink. In the end, it’s the fruitiness — balanced with a nice measure of tartness — that’ll keep you reaching for another.

MIDWEST DROP: Bell’s Sparkleberry Ale

Style: Belgian-Style Tripel Ale
ABV: 9%
Brewery Location: Kalamazoo, MI

The Beer:

Bell’s started brewing up batches of Sparkleberry Ale back in 2013 to celebrate and support Pride Month. The beer is Belgian Tripel brewed with fresh raspberries. That Tripel base, though, means that this one packs a nine percent ABV wallop, so consider yourself warned on how drunk these cans will get you in short order.

Tasting Notes:

Freshly picked raspberries dominate the nose to the point that you’ll forget that you’re tasting a ridiculously strong Belgian Tripel. There’s a floral sense that supports the tart berries feel with those hefty ale malts sneaking in late to remind you that you’re drinking beer. A mild bitterness takes hold as the malts and raspberries finish strong and ultra-refreshing, making this the epitome of summer in a can.

NORTHEAST DROP: Tree House Double IPA SUMMER

Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.1%
Brewery Location: Charlton, MA

The Beer:

It kind of can’t be summer without a Tree House Double IPA or two while sitting in the shade of a lumbering tree. This year’s “Summer” is brewed with oats with the malts and then hopped with a matrix of Amarillo, Citra, and Magnum hops, giving this sip a classic, funky IPA feel that leans into being bright and refreshing above all else.

Tasting Notes (from the brewer):

“We taste and smell fresh-squeezed orange juice, mango gummies, clementine sorbet, and citrus pith. Summer is a chewy IPA, leaving behind fruity hop oils on the tongue to entice the next sip. Drink it cold and drink it straight from the can for maximum hop enjoyment.”

WILD CARD DROP: Deschutes Neon Daydream Hazy Ale

Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 4.8%
Brewery Location: Bend, OR

The Beer:

Back in the Pacific Northwest, Neon Daydream from Deschutes is a summer standard that’s back on shelves right now. The beer has a malt base of Pilsner, wheat, un-malted wheat, oats, and acidulated malts (those are malts that are fermented in lactic acid). The beer is then hopped with Cashmere, Simcoe, and Lemondrop hops to give a real sense of summer sunshine in the bottle.

Tasting Notes:

Bright citrus greets you with bursts of lemon and orange leading the way. The orange edges towards a bitter-yet-sweet marmalade as the lemon keeps it all very light and, well, sunny before a slight malt funk sneaks in. The sip ends quickly with a nice balance of malts, sweet orange, and tart lemon.

INT’L PICK OF THE MONTH: Andechser Weissbier Hell

Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: 5.5%
Brewery Location: Andechs, Germany

The Beer:

This tiny brewery from the edge of the lake just outside of Munich is a pilgrimage site for beer lovers who know what’s up. The monks at Klosterbrauerei Andechs brew up beer lover’s beer and that’s especially true of their Weissbier Hell, or pale wheat beer. The beer is simply made with wheat, water, yeast, and hops. It’s then bottled unfiltered, allowing the hazy yeast body to remain.

Tasting Notes:

This is classic German wheat beer with hints of banana next to cloves, bridged by a backbone of yeasty tanginess. Hints of honey and yellow melon play with the clove spiciness and banana while the velvet texture and lightness of the beer leaves you wanting more.

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