Nothing takes the edge off the dog days of summer like a crisp, refreshing craft beer. These seasonal beers tend to be paler in color and sometimes more subtle in flavor, as the heavier, richer brews of the fall and winter can be a bit too heavy on the stomach in the warm weather. For the backyard barbecue, the beach house, and all the other places your summer adventures take you, here are 12 craft brews to enjoy during the hottest months of the year.
It’s hot and humid. You’re overworked and a little cranky. We hear you.
Every so often, we pull together our crack, in-house team of beer experts to give you the low down on the best brews of the season.
This round: summer seasonal craft beer.
Here are nine unique brews to take to the pool, beach, or just crack open on the deck.
1. Harpoon UFO Big Squeeze Shandy
The UFO Big Squeeze Shandy is all about the citrus. It begins with a tart, citrusy nose, with an unfiltered, hazy appearance. We tasted a strong orange-grapefruit flavor at the start, but noticed a distinctly grapefruit finish. The tartness is balanced out nicely with some breadiness. Overall it’s light and refreshing enough to replace a Bellini at brunch.
2. Newburgh Brewing Xylem Farmhouse Ale
With a beautiful straw-blonde color, Newburgh Brewing’s Xylem Farmhouse Ale has an herbal, grassy smell. We detected oat notes as well. In terms of flavor, we got some nuttiness along with the organic taste of herbs, all with a clean, slightly lemon finish.
3. Anderson Valley Summer Solstice
The Summer Solstice has a gorgeous copper-caramel color to it, an indication of its rich yet not too heavy flavor. We tasted some sweet malt and molasses, almost like a burnt sugar. At the same time, there was a citrus-ginger spice to it. "It reminds me of a cream soda," said one panelist. Most of us agreed it would make a great dessert beer, preferably by a campfire along with some s’mores.
4. Perennial Artisan Ales / The Hopleaf Hopfentea
This collaboration brew between Perennial Artisan Ales and The Hopleaf begins with a tropical nose that reminded us of mango with a texture almost like Champagne. Tart with a pomegranate and plum-like flavor, we noticed it was right on the cusp of being pucker-worthy, but not quite over that limit. It’s balanced with notes of papaya, hibiscus, apple, and tea.
5. Samuel Adams Summer Ale
If there’s a classic beer for the summer, this is it. It has a color that reminds us of bright sunshine at the beach and a nose that begins with a honey and citrus. We detected clove flavor, offset with some subtle sweetness of malt, along with an ever-so-slight bitterness of lemon. It is complex, yet balanced. Call it a Goldilocks brew.
6. Short’s Brew Nicie Spicie
No, that’s not a misspelling. Nicie Spicie, as its name suggests, has a pleasant heat to it. With an intricate flavors of coriander, lemon peel, and fresh herbs, this brew has a cracked pepper taste that leaves a tingly spiciness on your palate. Yet it's balanced and not over-the-top.
7. East Coast Beer Company Beach Haus Classic American Pilsner
Beach Haus Classic American Pilsner has a malty, slightly floral nose and a straw-like golden color. It has a surprising yet pleasant sweet, hoppy flavor and well-balanced malts. We thought this was one of the most seasonal beers of the bunch that doesn’t risk getting boring.
8. Founders Brewing Company Rubaeus
With a gorgeous true red color, Founders Ruaeus has an intense, herbal nose. We got notes of raspberries, apples, and wheat. Of course its flavor is rich with raspberry; sweet, but balanced nicely with some tart. This is a delicious, picnic-ready ale.
9. Ithaca Beer Company Flower Power IPA
Ithaca Flower Power begins with a tropical, floral nose that reminded us a bit of peach iced tea. Nice and herby, we tasted some pine and pear flavors, with a grassy finish. But the “power" comes from its hoppy punch. Smooth on the tongue, it would pair perfectly with most summertime barbecue fare.