Summer is in session and it’s time to fire up the grill, hit the beach and relax by the pool. All of that summer fun can make you wonder: what beers should you be packing in your cooler this season?
Maybe a hoppy IPA is what you’re craving, but you don’t want the higher alcohol content that the style typically offers. That higher alcohol content (5.5-7.5 percent abv), can make it hard to enjoy more than one or two before you’re already feeling like you’ve had twice as much.
Fortunately, the Session IPA has come to the rescue. Quickly gaining in popularity, a Session IPA packs in the hop-forward flavor that’s expected from an IPA, with less alcohol – typically 5 percent or lower. That means these delicious brews are easier to enjoy one, or a few, in a beer-drinking session – thus the name: Session IPA.
Oskar Blues in Asheville, N.C., makes the Pinner Throwback IPA and it definitely is a nice one to throw back on a hot afternoon by the pool. This beer is balanced, clean and has an up-front dose of hops that taste like citrus and tropical fruit, along with a bit of gentle, toasty malt flavor.
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Even Keel Session IPA from Ballast Point in San Diego, Calif., is another excellent option with its light and smooth drinking 3.8 percent abv, but still has that bright, citrusy hop flavor with a floral, dank and herby aroma. Other sessional options are: Founders All Day IPA, Boulevard Pop-Up Session I.P.A., and Stone Go To IPA.
If hop-forward beers aren’t your style, then perhaps a craft lager is your ticket to beat the heat. While there are so many different styles of lagers, light and crisp is the way to go for summer. Shift Pale Lager from New Belgium Brewing in Asheville, N.C., is an excellent choice. It brings that bright crispness that you expect from a lager with a subtle touch of fruit and citrus hop.
From Nantucket, Mass., Cisco Brewers’ Shark Tracker Light Lager is one of my favorites. This special brew was created to help fund and promote the endeavors of OCEARCH, a nonprofit organization that researches great white sharks and other predators of the ocean. As a light Pilsner style lager, this beer has that traditional crisp and clean body to go with the earthy and slightly bitter flavor.
For those who want something that almost resembles liquid sunshine, Victory Brewing from Downington, Pa., offers Summer Love, a golden ale with a taste that is refreshing, lemony, and has a subtle, honey-like sweetness.
As true summer classics, wheat ales take the lead as one of the best beers for the season. There are so many different flavors this style can support, with a range from fruity to spicy, and a smoothness that only wheat beer can deliver.
For a spicy take Westbrook Brewing Co. from Mt. Pleasant offers White Thai. Instead of going for the traditional orange peel and coriander flavorings, they added lemongrass and ginger to give this brew a bright, lemony, refreshing quality with some spice to keep you on your toes. Bell’s Oberon ale from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI, offers that bright, fruity orange flavor, backed by the light, smooth wheat body.
For the purist, Holy City Brewing from Charleston created the Washout Wheat. Done in the German hefeweizen style, this ale lets the yeast and wheat do all the talking with the banana and clove esters of the yeast shining through.
For the most traditional and popular style of American wheat beer, there is the Myrtle Beach local New South Brewing’s White Ale. Orange peel and coriander mingle in a light wheat body, making this brew ideal for soaking up the summer.
The best thing about each one of these beers is that they really are summer friendly. They are all available in cans, which means they can go where no glass-bottled beer has gone before. If you’re planning to enjoy a few beers while spending the day outside, don’t forget to drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Enjoy the summer breeze responsibly!