Summer has been a long time coming, but now that it’s finally here, it’s time to enjoy your favorite summer activities. Whether you love hardball, hiking, or horticulture, it’s all better with a beer ready to hand.
But because of the way you enjoy them, summer beers are different from those you enjoy the rest of the year. And that makes it an excellent time to try out a few new selections to see if you find your new favorite.
What Makes the Perfect Summer Beer
But before we get into looking at some specific beers, let’s talk about what makes a beer really great for enjoying in the summer.
We think there are four major characteristics that set summer beers apart. All of our selections have at least a couple of these characteristics to make them great choices for whatever summer activities you enjoy.
Summer is hot, and most summer activities make it feel even hotter. Running, biking, hiking, gardening: all put you out in the sun, and you’re working hard. You sweat. You feel uncomfortable. You need a beer that isn’t just cold to the touch—it should taste refreshing. We’re talking about light flavors that go down easy.
Uniquely Summer Flavors
What does summer taste like? Summer tastes like childhood. Summer tastes like freedom. Summer tastes like fun. Whatever those things taste like to you probably started forming at age five when you got out of kindergarten and was honed at least up to the point where your dad hinted not-so-subtly that summers were for working. It’s imprinted indelibly in your brain, and when that taste hits your tongue, you’re back in that time and place all over again.
Complements the Foods of Summer
Some of the flavors of summer are captured in the foods that you really only get to enjoy during the summer. Barbecues, especially, especially, are associated with summer, but there’s also all the fresh fruits and vegetables that you can enjoy in the summer like at no other time during the year.
Summer drinking sessions are long, just like the days. You’ve got the time to enjoy the experience of drinking, and you don’t have to rush to get your beers in. In fact, you might have the opposite problem: getting drunk too soon and not being able to enjoy all the friends, activities, and beers in the evening.
Summer beers are lighter, so you can enjoy sipping all afternoon long and not get too tipsy.
Let’s start with an old tradition. The shandy is a beer mixed with some sort of nonalcoholic drink, typically a soda, these days. We don’t know exactly how old shandies are—probably hundreds of years—or why they were invented. One story says has it that it was a way to try to stretch the lager supply through the summer since lagers could only be brewed in the winter in the days before refrigeration. But nowadays many people just love them for their mild flavor and low alcohol.
Leinenkugel’s captures this summer tradition with their Summer Shandy, something of a tradition in its own right. With lemonade flavors and a light taste that goes well with almost anything, this sessionable beer is definitely a great choice for summer.
Imagine an island, where sun, sand, and surf are your only companions. But this isn’t a desert island, it’s a tropical island, and the highland is covered with fruit trees. As you sit on the sand, watching the waves, the heady aroma of the ripe fruits drifts down to you. All you have to do to enjoy the taste of these luscious delights is reach out, pluck one, and bite into the succulent flesh.
That’s the feeling that Sierra Nevada was trying to capture with their Tropical Torpedo. But here’s the trick: the beer contains no fruit whatsoever. All the flavors and aromas of mango, papaya, and passionfruit come from the unique blend of hops used in the beer. A truly special creation, and a delightful summer variation on the popular Torpedo.
There’s nothing quite like stumbling on an untouched cluster of wild raspberries along the trail. They may be small and few in number, but the sun-warmed flavor is exquisite.
As a mountain brewery, Eddyline wanted to capture this experience with their Raspberry Wheat. Made with real raspberries, this delightful variation on wheat beers is the perfect complement for any summer sport. It’s truly refreshing, and the limited release makes them as fleeting as the raspberries themselves.
Sure, you might argue that summer begins with Memorial Day weekend. But the summer beer season start with Cinco de Mayo. And that gives Mexican beers a special place as summer beers.
With the hotter climate south of the border, Mexican beers seem particularly well adapted to relieving the stresses of summer. Just open the top and enjoy the liquid refreshment.
Each Mexican beer has its own character, so it’s worth trying several to make sure you find the one that’s best suited to you. Dos Equis’ Lager Especial is a solid pilsner with a mild but noticeable hop profile. Modelo Especial is a lighter beer with a touch of orange blossom honey aroma and a slight herb flavor. Tecate is the lightest of the group with an extremely mild character that makes it easily drinkable not only with Mexican foods, but curries and other spicy dishes, too.
What would you get if the orchard were a little less angry? Well, you’d get Easy Apple, a special lighter version of cider from one of the flavor leaders in the industry.
Not as sweet as some ciders, Easy Apple goes well with many summer foods. And with a lower alcohol content, Easy Apple is very sessionable, so you can enjoy it all afternoon.
If you’re looking for an especially refreshing twist for your summer afternoons, then you should consider the Truly Spiked & Sparkling Water. The flavors are so cool and refreshing it’s like drinking your favorite sparkling water, but with a kick.
Truly Sparkling Waters have a very sessionable ABV, and they have another benefit, too: they’re very light. They have just 100 calories and 2 g of carbs in each can. That way you can stick to your diet and not skip all the fun.
Find Your New Favorite Today?
Which one of these beers will be your new summer favorite? There’s only one way to tell: try them and see.
The only tough part is knowing which to try first.