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More Top Summer Beers

A tall, cool glass of beer for summertime


The warm summer weather calls for lighter beers with plenty of flavor. Take your favorite brew to the next level and pair it with some barbecue, or simply pop off the cap and enjoy an instant respite from the heat. Whether you prefer fruity, malty or spicy beers, use our selections to help you find the perfect bottle. Also check out our current list of Top 10 Summer Beers!


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AMERICAN BLONDE ALE

New Belgium Skinny Dip
Fort Collins, Colorado
With its invigorating citrus flavor and mild aftertaste, this unique low-alcohol ale is the perfect beer for those hot summer days. Read the full review.

New Belgium Somersault
Fort Collins, Colorado
This summer quencher is a figure-friendly beer that weighs in at only 130 calories, making it an alternative to traditional 'light' beers. Read the full review.

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AMERICAN CRAFT PILSNER

Victory Prima Pils
Downington, Pennsylvania
Richer than a classic German pilsner, "Prima Pils" has a biscuity malt core and heaping helpings of noble whole-leaf hops... Read the full review.

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AMERICAN PALE ALE

Dale's Pale Ale
Lyons, Colorado

This hearty brew is copper-hued, has a rich aroma and logs in at 6.5 percent ABV. Read the full review.

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Milton, Delaware
Dogfish Head is the first and only brewery to continuously hop its beer during the brewing process... Read the full review.

Great Divide Titan India Pale Ale
Denver, Colorado

This refreshing take on the I.P.A. style manages to deliver ample flavor without weighing you down. Read the full review.

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AMERICAN WHEAT BEER

Anchor Summer Beer
San Francisco, California
While most wheat beers rely on European-inspired recipes, Anchor was the first to try their hand at their own all-malt interpretation... Read the full review.

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale
Petaluma, California
This brewery out of Petaluma, California, is known for using bucket loads of hops. Read the full review.

Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat
Boston, Massachusetts
A real thirst quencher, this brew is a crisp and refreshing treat for a hot summer day. Read the full review.

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BAVARIAN-STYLE HEFEWEIZEN

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
Chico, California
Possibly the best way to end a long, hot day is by enjoying a classic hefeweizen. Read the full review.

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BAVARIAN WHEAT BEER

Paulaner Hefe-Weizen
Munich, Germany
This highly refreshing warm-weather beer is so vividly reminiscent of baked goods and tropical fruit that it's like fresh banana bread in a glass. Read the full review.

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BELGIAN-INSPIRED SAISON

Surly CynicAle
Brooklyn Center, Minnesota

The brassy amber beer has ample carbonation and throws off a fragrant sticky foam that conjures fresh baguettes, orchard fruits and herb butter. Read the full review.

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BELGIAN RASPBERRY LAMBIC

Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus
Belgium

The first sip is mouth-shockingly sour and dry, with the zing and bubble of Rosé Champagne. Read the full review.

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BELGIAN WHITE

Unibroue Blanche de Chambly
Montreal, Canada

The abundant Champagne-like carbonation in this beer makes it a summer refresher that packs a big punch in flavor. Read the full review.

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CZECH PILSNER

Pilsner Urquell
Pilsen, Czech Republic

The pilsner style has long been associated with thirst quenchers enjoyed best during the hot summer months. Read the full review.

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FRUIT BEER

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat
San Francisco, California

Nothing says summer like watermelon and beer. Known for creating innovative brews and creative monikers... Read the full review.

Pyramid Apricot Ale
Seattle, Washington

Capturing the essence of apricot, this highly carbonated brew is refreshing and very flavorful. Read the full review.

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GERMAN-INSPIRED SOUR WHEAT BEER

Dogfish Head Festina Pêche
Milton, Delaware

Festina Pêche manages to combine the dry refreshment of great beer with the tart and fruity tastiness of cider. Read the full review.

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JAPANESE RICE LAGER

Sapporo Premium Draft Can
Japan

Sapporo Premium's vigorous carbonation and a bone-dry attack make perfect sense in the dog days of summer. Read the full review.

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NORTH GERMAN PILSNER

Bitburger Premium Pils
Bitburg, Germany

This classic pilsner's herbal hop aromas and brisk lager finish feel as fresh and clean as a newly starched shirt... Read the full review.

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SMOKED BLACK BEER

Alaskan Brewing Company Smoked Porter
Juneau, Alaska

This beer is black as coal and gives off a smoky scent reminiscent of perking coffee on a backcountry morning. Read the full review.



AMERICAN "I.P.A."
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Anderson Valley "Hop Ottin" India Pale Ale, $2.50/12 oz.

Anderson Valley "Hop Ottin" India Pale Ale

Anderson Valley is an icon among breweries, a charter member of the California class that ushered in the era of small-batch craft brewing. Located in a scenic corner of coastal Mendocino county, the town of Boonville has long been a countercultural mecca and even boasts its own folk language. “Hop Ottin” is Boontling for “hard-working hops” and gives a clue to what’s in the bottle. This coppery brew is positively drenched in Pacific Northwest hops, added both to the boil for bracing bitterness and afterwards for pungent aroma. Clocking in at seven percent alcohol, this I.P.A. is plenty strong, but never cloying. The beer’s malt backbone is as wholesome as crunchy granola, while the scent of sappy hops conjures images of ruby grapefruits and cedar fronds. Keep the Boontling spirit alive by serving this beer with organic foods; try some with planked wild salmon or free-range rotisserie chicken.


AMERICAN CRAFT WITBIER
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Allagash "White," $3/12 oz. and $8/25 oz.

This luscious wheat beer can’t be beat on a sweaty summer day—the American craft answer to Belgium’s popular Hoegaarden. Brewing with wheat yields hazy ales with a bright flavor reminiscent of lemon yogurt. In Belgium it is traditional to spice these white beers, or “witbiers,” typically with coriander seed and ground Curacao orange peel.  Maine’s Allagash makes the best interpretation of the style in the USA. Their “White” pours daffodil yellow with wheat’s distinctive opalescence and a pillowy head that releases a citrusy blast of exotic spice fragrance. Each sip feels silky and rich, despite modest strength, and delivers a doughy malt flavor similar to that of hot cross buns. This spritzy ale has the flavor density to handle boldly seasoned cuisine, from ceviche and dry-rubbed ribs to curries and gumbo. Give it a try with tandoori chicken or chili con carne with melted cheddar cheese.

Allagash "White"

Reissdorf "Kölsch"

GERMAN KÖLSCH
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Reissdorf "Kölsch," $3/11.2 oz.
and $4/16.9 oz.

Köln, or Cologne, is a renowned brewing city even by German standards and is known for its uncommon local ale known as Kölsch. Warm-fermented for fruity flavor then cold-aged to boost refreshment, there are few ale-brewed beers more perfectly suited for hot weather. Pale gold in color and vigorously carbonated, Reissdorf Kölsch has a fluffy head of long-lasting foam. Aromas of apple peels and poached pears mingle with the scent of crusty Italian bread.  The beer is brisk, perky and delicately hopped — a great daytime pick-me-up. Classically understated in flavor, it is a terrific foil for simple light foods, like summer salads, seafood and white meats. Pour yourself a well-chilled glass with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, or a dozen clams.


AMERICAN FRUIT BEER
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Sea Dog "Blue Paw Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale,"
$1.50/12 oz.

While sipping a Blue Paw, it’s hard not to be transported, Proust-like, back to the sticky-fingered summer days of berry picking, which were followed by piles of blueberry pancakes the next morning. The beer’s aromas, not color (a respectable amber gold), reveal its intense wild blueberry nature. Though the nose suggests a sweet fruit beer with faint citrus-like notes of wheat, the beer is pleasantly dry and refreshing. Modest in alcohol and highly carbonated, it will surprise with a bracing touch of hop bitterness in the finish. Ahh… Finally a simple summer fruit beer that still tastes like a beer. Give it a try with a simple cheese plate or a salad topped with grilled chicken.

Sea Dog "Blue Paw Wild Blueberry Wheat Ale"

Ommegang "Hennepin"

BELGIAN-INSPIRED FARMHOUSE "SAISON"
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Ommegang "Hennepin," $2.50/12 oz. and $5/25 oz.

Belgian-owned Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY, is a source of remarkable beers; each one is as alive as an illegal unpasteurized European cheese. Hennepin is their interpretation of the classic “Saison” style of farmhouse ale — a potent golden variation brewed for the late summer harvest season. This bottle-conditioned ale is surprising from the first pour, billowing up with pillowy froth as persistent as meringue. Pungent aromas are strangely diverse — nutty, fruity, spicy, funky — yet the overall impression is of cohesion. Even more flavorful layers unfurl on the palate—herbal, floral and cereal grains—all jousting for supremacy in a lingering finish. Here, surely, is proof that beer can be as complex and food-friendly as fine wine. Hennepin deserves to be shared with friends in red wine glasses, as traditional pints won’t do justice to its aromas. Give this remarkable ale a chance to shine with rotisserie chicken or grilled salmon.


BELGIAN-INSPIRED SPICED WHEAT BEER
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Hitachino Nest "White Ale," $2.50/12 oz.

Don’t let the cartoony label fool you, the Hitachino Nest beers are seriously world class brews. Best known is their "White Ale," a hyper-modern spin on an ancient Belgian recipe, essentially a post-modern interpretation of Hoegaarden. Pale and cloudy in the glass, a pungent blast of orange essence hits you as you pour, like a freshly peeled tangerine. Spicy, creamy and jam-packed with flavor, "White Ale" is trippy — fuzzing the unlikely line between beer and creamsicle. This beer can hook friends who "aren’t into beer" or startle even the most jaded beer geek. Try some with sweet and sour chicken or a spicy crab boil.

Hitachino Nest "White Ale"


AMERICAN BOHEMIAN-STYLE PILSNER
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Sierra Nevada "Summerfest," $1.50/12 oz.

Sierra Nevada "Summerfest"

Sierra Nevada may be synonymous with pale ale, but this lesser-known seasonal brew deserves a place on any summer playlist. "Summerfest" models itself on the original Czech pilsners, like Urquell, that inspired a worldwide fascination with crisp, pale lagers. "Summerfest" is true to the Bohemian style: pale, mid-weight and lightly bronzed, showcasing the subtly floral Saaz hop, albeit with a bold California brewer’s hand. Brilliant with everything from raw shellfish to sausages, the deft combination of flavor, refreshment and value of "Summerfest" could convert any macro-drinker to micros for life.


AMERICAN INDIAN PALE ALE (I.P.A.)
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Bell's "Two-Hearted Ale," $2/12 oz.

Bell's "Two-Hearted Ale"

Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale is an exceptional example of how American brewers have breathed new life into a Colonial-era British beer. I.P.A., standing for India Pale Ale, was originally developed as a stronger version of the famous pub-style “Bitter.” Extra malty and strong, it was designed to survive a harrowing equatorial voyage by sea. Since hops act as a beer preservative, I.P.A.s were dry-hopped, or given an extra hop dose after brewing, boosting both green hop aromas and bracing bitterness. American craft brewers have since pushed the envelope, making succulently rich beers with American hop varieties that scream from the glass with citrusy, resinous hop character. Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale drinks like a dream, and is full of cookie-like malt and peachy ale fruit. Yet its calling card is the sweet grapefruit rush of hop character, whose resonance on the palate takes minutes to fade. Serve this beer with bold dishes like Texas chili dogs or North Carolina pulled pork.


BELGIAN GUEUZE / NON-FRUITED LAMBIC
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Lindemans Gueuze "Cuvée René," $12/25 oz.

Lindemans Gueuze "Cuvée René"

Lindemans is famous for its sweet fruity lambic beers, but their "Cuvée René" is on a different plane. It does not disguise its rustic "wild fermented" funkiness with fruit, but rather showcases a wine-like edge of fierce acidity and aromatics reminiscent of bloomy rind cheeses like Brie with pride. Gueuze blends two parts young lively, freshly fermented beer with one part mature beer aged in wooden casks. While some are sweetened, "Cuvée René" is dry. This golden quencher is a complex beer, an acquired taste that seems more like cider on first sip, laden with beguiling buried flavors of saffron and truffles.  But, like great single malt scotch and grand cru Burgundy, its charms will be lost on beginners. It is happiest with other funky foods, like wild mushrooms and epic European cheeses.


BELGIAN WHEAT BEER
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Hoegaarden, $1.75/12 oz.

Belgian ales rank as nobility in the beer world, and with good reason. In this tiny country, an artisanal brewing tradition with medieval roots has survived nearly intact. "Hoegaarden" is the standard bearer for Belgian white beers, a style spiced with coriander and orange peel, and is widely available around the globe. "Witbier" means white beer, a reference to the pale cloudy hue from the addition of raw wheat. Few brews can stand up as well to Asian flavors like ginger or Mexican spicy heat. This beer can also master the challenges of vinegar or citrus found so often in chilled appetizers and salads.



Hoegaarden



Weihenstephaner "Hefe Weissbier"

SOUTH GERMAN WHEAT BEER - HEFEWEIZEN
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Weihenstephaner "Hefe Weissbier," $2.50/12 oz.

Further south, another German wheat beer tradition thrives in Bavaria, where Hefeweizen reigns supreme in summer. Literally translated “yeast wheat,” Hefeweizen beers are cloudy gold in color and packed with rich, spiced fruit flavor. These friendly beers have virtually no hop bitterness, and as such are crowd pleasers that appeal to even non-beer drinkers. An unusual yeast strain gives Hefeweizen a distinctive banana bread character, though no fruit or spices are added to German beers by law. Weihenstephaner produces one of the all-time classics, able to both pique and satisfy the appetite at once. Sometimes served with a slice of lemon, Hefeweizen beers pair as well with casual burgers as they do with sesame chicken.


NORTH GERMAN PILSNER
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Jever "Pilsener," $1.50/12 oz.

The Friesland town of Jever, not far from the North Sea, makes one of Germany’s most striking pilsner beers. Paler and more bitter than the softer styles of Bavaria and Bohemia, the fierce bite of Jever puts bland macro-lagers to shame. This pungent, mid-weight lager delivers a blast of refreshment that builds to a whip-crack finish. Sharp piney aromas and lean soda-cracker malt flavors cut through even the fattiest of fried foods, scouring the palate clean. When hot, muggy days are getting you down, a cold Jever is as welcome as a Nordic breeze, a bracing counterpoint to fish and chips or butter-dipped lobster.

Jever "Pilsener"

AMERICAN WHEAT BEER
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Three Floyds "Gumballhead," $7/22 oz.

Three Floyds "Gumballhead"

"Gumballhead" has an attitude all its own, as one look at its crude, grouchy label will confirm. Wheat beers may traditionally be only mildly hopped, but "Gumballhead" sets tradition on its ear. Like most Three Floyds brews it’s a hophead’s dream, crackling with resinous, citrusy hop aromas. Though it clocks in at a modest 4.8 percent alcohol, this is no wimpy wheat beer. “Gumballhead” is an "in your face" wheat beer, with the piney essence of fresh Amarillo hops screaming out of the glass. Softly sweet on the palate and surprisingly gentle in bitterness, few summer beers are as adept handling complex spices, from dry rub barbecue ribs to shrimp with coconut curry.


CANADIAN FRUIT WHEAT BEER
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Unibroue "Éphémère - Apple," $6/22 oz.

Not far from Montréal, the Canadian brewery Unibroue is crafting authentic interpretations of Belgian brewing recipes. They are also creating a few newsworthy styles of their own, like Éphémère — a line of ales brewed with both fruit and wheat. Éphémère Apple has tremendous finesse, its green apple character understated and almost as aptly ephemeral as the dainty fairy on the label. Snappy and refreshing, this lees aged ale rolls aspects of hard cider, wheat beer and Champagne into one delightful package. Éphémère is a graceful partner with subtle seafood dishes, yet has the sinew to stand up to sweet-tart tropical specialties like Thai tom yum soup.

Unibroue "Éphémère - Apple"


Boon "Kriek"
BELGIAN CHERRY LAMBIC
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Boon "Kriek," $8/12 oz.

Lambic beers are neither ales nor lagers, but rather result from “wild yeast” fermentation that yields a rustic wine-like edge of fierce acidity and funky aromas reminiscent of soft-rind cheese. Lambics are generally fruit beers and can range from dry to the fully sweet. Boon (pronounced "bone") is a stronghold of the drier style so rarely exported, and is more appropriate for dinner service than dessert. "Kriek," or cherry, is Boon’s icon brew, combining seductive red-fruit flavor and tartness with the praline aroma of cracked cherry stones. Delicious with mustard-spiked sandwiches and fresh produce, few beers are as delightful with picnic lunches at the lake.


NORTH GERMAN WHEAT BEER - BERLINER WEISSE
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Kindl "Berliner Weisse," $2.50/12 oz.

Kindl "Berliner Weisse"Though it is one of the world’s strangest beers, Berliner Weisse could also qualify as the most refreshing summer brew of all time. With half the alcohol of normal beer and the bracing acidic backbone of fresh lemonade, it can conquer even a blazing noon-day sun. This wheat beer is sheer in texture and has an oddly yogurty sourness, an ideal partner for summer salads or raw oysters. Or try the traditional approach taken in Berlin, where this local specialty is most often served "mit Schuss," or "with a shot," referring to a dash of sweet syrup. The usual options are red or green for raspberry or woodruff, a tender aromatic herb, both of which create tempting sweet-tart drinks far more quenching than any cola.


SOUTH GERMAN WHEAT BEER - HEFEWEIZEN
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Franziskaner "Hefe Weisse," $2/12 oz.
and $2.50/16 oz.

Franziskaner "Hefe Weisse"

In and around the legendary brewing city of Munich, the wheat beer tradition takes on its own form. Bavarian Hefeweizen beers are cloudy gold in color and packed with rich, spiced fruit flavor, thanks to a unique strain of yeast, or hefe in German. These warm-weather beers are unfiltered to emphasize their fruity-yeasty taste, and have exceptionally low hop bitterness. Like "beer with training wheels," they can easily charm even non-beer drinkers. Brewed in accordance with the centuries-old German beer purity law, no fruit or spices are added. The recognizable aromas of caramelized bananas and dessert spices come from the specialized yeasts that give these wheat beers, or weisse, their name. There's no better beer for southeast asian treats, like Pad Thai noodles or Vietnamese spring rolls.


AMERICAN WHEAT BEER
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Bell's "Oberon Ale," $2/12 oz.

Bell's "Oberon Ale"

Unlike so many American wheat beers, Oberon Ale from Bell’s delivers layers of complex flavor and opulent texture. Who says summer seasonal must be thin and bland? Its hazy, rusty color promises depth, and the first sip delivers. Snappy green apples and pears on the nose give way to malty goodness in the mouth, all rounded out with a tantalizing hint of dessert spices. At a respectable 5.8% alcohol, Oberon hides some muscle behind its refreshment, and can stand up to summer’s richer flavors. Try it with juicy ribs slathered with smoky sauce or a bushel of buttered white corn on the cob.




Dogfish Head "Aprihop"

AMERICAN FRUIT INDIAN PALE ALE
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Dogfish Head "Aprihop," $2.50/12 oz.

"Aprihop" will be a revelation for those who think fruit beers aren’t "real" beers. Dogfish is renowned for "India Pale Ales" loaded with malty muscle and jolly, green hop aromatics on a giant scale. The irreverent "Aprihop" delivers both in spades, enough to keep any brew-geek happy, but defies convention by adding fresh apricots to this otherwise "serious" beer. The fruit and pale ale flavors marry seamlessly, creating a fruit beer that isn’t dominated by fruit flavor or sticky sweetness. "Aprihop" is unusually strong for a summer beer, with enough body and bitter bite to take on the strongest, spiciest summer foods.


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India Pale Ale was first developed for British soldiers in South Asia; however, the style has since gained popularity with civilian beer fans.

Although sipping fine Scotch can be an expensive habit, GAYOT's Top 10 Single Malt Scotch Whiskies start at a reasonable $50 a bottle.