We’re heading into the final month of summer before the kids go back to school, schedules get full, and autumn debuts. So before the sun sets on summer, these are seven beers you need to drink. Track them down. You’ll be happy you did.
Easy Jack IPA
If you’re looking to have a few beers with friends and don’t want to get smashed, grab a “session” beer. These have all the flavor of their more alcoholic cousins but with an ABV that means you can have more than one or two before you feel it.
This is a particularly tasty and very sessionable IPA with fresh citrus and melon flavors perfect for a hot summer’s day, but you also get a great malt balance that makes this beer special. This comes from the Firestone Walker brewery in California, which has a great backstory worth its own column later.
Victory’s Prima Pils
A cold, crisp Pilsner is a perfectly refreshing beer in the hot sun of summer, and this is one of the best American-made pils you’ll have. It’s based on an old-world German Pilsner but with a hint of that can-do American flavor. Victory Brewery in Pennsylvania makes a great variety of beers, and I was able to sample several at the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp just a few weeks ago. Their Hoppy Quad is a masterpiece, but the Prima Pils is among their best, and a must-have summer beer.
Brooklyn Summer Ale
From Brooklyn Brewery, one of my favorite small breweries, this is the ideal example of a craft beer that doesn’t need to hit you over the head with powerful flavors. It includes some nice bready-ness, crisp hops, a bit of bitterness, and floral aromas that mix to give you a beer whose balanced flavor makes for a great accompaniment for a burger on the back deck. Oh, and when grilling burgers and eating outside, skip the fries and go for grilled okra, grilled hallloumi, or a nice cold watermelon and mint salad.
Maui Brewing Company’s Imperial Coconut Porter
Sure, you don’t think “porter” when you think of summer, but this one will change your mind. This was another beer I had the pleasure of having at the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp recently. You may think of a porter as a heavier beer for the cooler months, but this porter from the folks in Maui is different, and exciting. Sure, you get a hint of coffee and a touch of chocolate, but the introduction of coconut into this porter gives it a unique flavor perfect for transporting you far away this summer season. Roast a pig, put on a lei, and imagine that pool is the blue clear waters of a Hawaiian beach.
Live Oak Hefeweizen
Hefeweizens may be one of the ideal summer beers. Light, refreshing, and effervescent, it’s a beer that begs to be enjoyed while grilling brats and watching your kids run around the backyard. It pours a nice straw color and is cloudy, typical of this style of beer.
This is my favorite from this Austin-area brewery. It features a hint of banana, clove, and even a touch of vanilla. As a fan of fonts, I also love its can! Oh, and as a gauge, the cooking time for a pile of brats generally equals one beer. Don’t overcook them and if you’re up for being brave, baste them in an onion-garlic clarified butter while they cook. It’s magical.
A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
This IPA from Lagunitas isn’t your typical hops and only hops IPA. Don’t get me wrong, I love those beers, but this is a little sumpin’ different. It is as smooth as the ugly silk Hawaiian shirt your father-in-law likes to wear every July, but it has a little touch of crisp, clean wheat flavor, some nice pale malt notes, and finishes with bold, fresh and juicy hops.
A movie theater near my house serves these, and it’s one of my go-to beers for summer blockbusters. No matter how cheesy this year’s superhero movie may be, some queso and A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ can get you through it.
Bloodwork Orange IPA
This blood orange IPA from my friends at Austin Beerworks is what every blood-orange IPA aspires to be. Adding the flavor of fruits is nothing new to IPAs. The citrus notes of hops lend themselves to those flavors all on their own. But by adding lemon, lime, orange, even watermelon, you can infuse IPAs with some interesting flavors that enhance the natural citrus elements of the beer.
Blood orange is one of those popular fruits, but since they are a little more tar than an average orange (but sometimes with a touch of sweet), it’s easy for these flavors to overwhelm a beer. With Bloodwork Orange, that’s not the case. You get the unique characteristics of the orange, you get the hops, you get the citrus, all in a 12-ounce can with an awesome design.