Brews for Summer

by Steve Lonsway

Often beer styles are synonymous with certain seasons because of restrictions the season creates for the brewer. Many beer styles were developed prior to refrigeration and because of that, these styles had to be brewed at particular times of the year, aged at certain times of the year, and then offered in a different season from when it was brewed. The Oktoberfest style is a prime example. This beer is traditionally brewed in March and stored in cool caves to mature throughout the warmer summer months. After this “lagering” process was complete, this brew was offered for consumption in October (hence Oktoberfest). A whole article can be written on this alone, but for now we want to talk about those beers that are often made available in the hotter summer months.  

A lot of beers get me excited when the ambient temperature around me is so hot that sweat forms on my forehead without even lifting a finger. A Double Russian Stout made with coffee and vanilla beans would not work for me at this point, nor would a barrel-aged smoked porter. I would rather save those libations for when cuddled under a flannel blanket in front of a raging fire. 

Beer styles that can bring your temperature down when the thermometer is going up are fruited sours, cold, crisp lagers, natural fruit ales, and hazy pale ales, also known as New England style pale ales.   

A fruited sour that I seek out is Sierra Nevada’s Otra Vez for its ability to crush the heat with its acidity and herbal and lime notes. New Glarus’s Serendipity is an excellent example as it sparkles upon your senses and cools your innards.  Natural fruit ales that are cool to the touch are Stone Arch’s Blueberry Wheat Ale, made with blueberry and plum puree to a ratio of over a half pound per gallon. So refreshing! Founders’ Rubaeus Raspberry Ale is another great brew that is crafted to perfection and allows the cool cleansing of the soul.  

My go-to summer slammer (a.k.a. lawn mowing beer) is Pacifico Clara, a Mexican-style Pilsner. Maybe this one lets me reflect on my Mexican beach travels, but regardless, it quenches!  

The hazy pale ale category is overflowing with examples, and I have committed myself to doing the research to be able to recommend the ones that stand out to me. I feel this is the least I can do for my readers (did I happen to mention I’m currently obsessed with this style?). Lagunitas Hazy Wonder, Surly Rocket Surgery, Sam Adams Wicked Hazy, Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue, Stone Arch HAZYrdous, and Haceinda Everything Eventually are all hazies that pair really well when that hazy sun is beating down. The hop profiles of this style give off such an amazing floral and citrus goodness, it’s no wonder this style is exploding in popularity.  

So enjoy one or more of these fine libations and find your inner cool!