When it comes to the summer beer hierarchy, it’s pretty tough to top the wheat beer in terms of style and flavor (though, honestly, pilsners are pretty impeccable this time of year, too). This top-fermented, wheat-filled brew is well-suited to hot weather and slow summer sipping. This is especially true for the most well-known varieties: Germany’s hefeweizen and Belgium’s witbier. Depending on your taste, the tart and super refreshing Berliner Weisse, salty gose, and funky, tangy, and floral lambics and gueuze all also make great choices.
Since we’re always on the lookout for fresh seasonal brews, we reach out to the professionals behind the bar for some help. We asked a handful of our favorite bartenders to tell us their choices for the best wheat beers for summer 2021.
Bell’s Bright White
Tom Garvin, beverage manager at Tribeca’s Kitchen in New York City
Average Price: $15 (six-pack)
The Bright White Ale from Bell’s Brewery is one of my favorite wheat beers. The beer is brewed like a Belgian wheat beer but made in Michigan.
The beer is light and refreshing but has some very complex notes of dried fruit and spices. Definitely a winner on a hot day.
Golden Road Mango Cart
Chandra Richter, vice president of beverage development and chief mixologist at Drinkworks
Average Price: $10.99 (six-pack)
As soon as early summer hits, I’m reaching for a refreshing, fruity wheat beer. I especially love the Golden Road Mango Cart.
This beer is so refreshing and fruity without being overly sweet yet still holds onto a bright mango flavor. For me, this is the perfect beer after a full day of summertime adventure.
Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
Austin Zimmer, bartender at Le Privé in New York City
Average Price: $9.99 (six-pack)
I’d definitely stock my summer fridge with Kellerweis from Sierra Nevada.
It’s full of flavor and well balanced, subtly tart, dry finish, with a great spicy floral aftertaste.
Port City Optimal Wit
Eoghain Clavin, brewery ambassador for Guinness
Average Price: $12 (six-pack)
Port City Optimal Wit from Alexandria, Virginia is a refreshing Belgian-style wit. Brewed with Spanish orange peel and coriander, this beer is a great choice for sitting out on the patio in shorts and letting summer pass you by.
Tasting Notes (from the brewer):
“We brew Optimal Wit with Grains of Paradise, which adds a subtle peppery finish. It tastes like Sunshine and Happiness!”
Ocean Lab American Wheat
Francisco Fonseca, bartender in Puerto Rico
Average Price: $12.99 (six-pack)
For early summer drinking, I will definitely choose Ocean Lab American Wheat. It’s made with 100 percent local orange peel and coriander seeds added into the tanks during brewing.
The beer is accentuated by floral and citrus notes. It’s refreshing, crisp, and a perfect contender for a day at the beach.
Evan Charest, bartender and director of operations for Mercantile Hospitality in Los Angeles
Average Price: $10.99 (four-pack)
I grew up in southern Maine. So when I hear wheat beer, I only think of Allagash. Allagash White is the epitome of early summer drinking. Winters are not great in Maine and Allagash White is the official primer of better weather to come.
The brew has classic flavors of coriander, citrus, and spice. It’s well-balanced and refreshing, especially at 5.2 percent.
Plank Heller Weizenbock
Frederic Yarm, USBG bartender in Boston
Average Price: $6.49 (500ml bottle)
Plank Heller Weizenbock is brewed in the traditional Bavarian wheated style.
The brew pops with delightful bready malt, honey, caramel, melon, banana, orange-apricot, and clove notes. It’s not too heavy like a winter wheat beer yet not too light either.
Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier
Joseph Fredrickson, bartender at Society Lounge in Cleveland
Average Price: $12.49 (six-pack)
I have always and will always love the Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier. Considered by many as the staple of its style — while, sadly, less distributed than others in its category — it is exactly what I want from a wheat beer.
It’s crisp and refreshing with depth and interesting notes of cardamom, clove, banana, and honey.
Odell Easy Street
Average Price: $10 (six-pack)
This 4.6 percent unfiltered wheat ale is perfectly named. The Colorado brew is an unfiltered wheat beer that’s built to highlight the citrus notes of the hops while staying light.
Take a sip of this easy-drinking wheat beer and you’ll be greeted with hints of orange peel, yeast, and a nice, refreshing, crisp finish.
Creature Comforts Athena
Average Price: $12.99 (six-pack)
One of the best choices for early summer sipping is a Berliner Weisse. One of the best examples of the Americanized version is Creature Comforts Athena. In keeping with the Berliner style, the beer is cut with lactobacillus to add that creamy sourness. It’s also kept at a very sessionable 4.6 percent ABV, making this the perfect summer crusher.
The beer has notes of citrus zest, tart apple, and sparkling white wine.
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