Few things are as synonymous with summer as beer. With more craft brewers in business today than at any time since the late 1800s, you have plenty of choices while searching out a fresh summer seasonal.
There are no set rules for what can be considered a proper summer beer, but one can expect these beers to be lighter on the palate, pair well with summer fare, and possibly take advantage of the major growing season and feature local produce.
Here’s a list of available summer beers as the breweries themselves shared with CraftBeer.com. Be sure to look for these and many more summer beers when the temperatures climb in your area.
Generally Wheat beers are crisp and refreshing, with light to moderate hopping. Wheat adds a soft, creamy texture.
Nicie Spicie | Short’s Brewing Co.
This northern Michigan spiced Wheat Ale is made with a 50/50 blend of malted barley and malted white wheat. Packed with fresh citrus zest, then spiced with coriander and a three peppercorn blend, this light bodied ale is complex yet scrumptious. Exemplified by its gorgeous golden color, Nicie Spicie is crisp and refreshing.
Availability – MI
Samuel Adams Summer Ale | Boston Beer Co.
This summer seasonal uses malted wheat, lemon peel and Grains of Paradise (a rare pepper from Africa first used as a brewing spice in the 13th century) to create a crisp taste, spicy flavor and medium body. The ale fermentation imparts background tropical fruit notes, reminiscent of mangos and peaches. All of these flavors come together to create a thirst quenching, clean finishing beer, perfect for those warm summer days.
Availability – All 50 states
Woody Creek White | Flying Dog Brewery
This Belgian-style White (Wit) pours a golden straw color with excellent head retention. The hazy appearance is caused by high protein levels from the unmalted wheat as well as yeast, and also contributes to the aroma and creamy mouthfeel. Woody Creek White, is named and brewed in homage to the brewery’s original breeding grounds of Woody Creek, Colorado. Woody Creek finishes dry and refreshing, perfect for a summer afternoon or evening.
Availability – MD, DC, VA, PA, CA, IL, WV, NJ, NY, TX, NC, MI, GA, MN, IN, OH, NH, WI, DE, AL, CT, FL
If a beer has summer in the name, you can reasonably assume one thing—refreshment! Call them lawnmower beers or group them as session ales, but don’t call them lacking. These lighter beers offer a wide range of flavors and are perfectly pleasant with summertime meals.
Midsummer Dream | Standing Stone Brewing Co.
Straw colored, with a light citrus nose, delicate biscuit malt flavor and very light bodied, this beer is crisp, dry and sessionable at 4.7% ABV. Midsummer Dream is fermented with an ale yeast at 62F°; the lower temperature passes along lager-like characteristics. The name is a reference to Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ashland, OR, where Standing Stone Brewing Co. is located is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Availability – Ashland, OR
Summer Ale | Alaskan Brewing Co.
Alaskan Summer Ale balances a softly malted palate with the clean freshness of Hallertauer hops. In the tradition of the style, neither overpowers the other. Both hops and malt come together to refresh and renew the palate. Based on the traditional style of Kölsch beer brewed in Cologne, Germany, Alaskan Summer Ale is fermented longer and at cooler temperatures, which creates a smooth, dry and more lager-like refreshing summer brew. The straw-gold color and easy drinkability make it an enjoyable way to celebrate summer.
Well-balanced in the style of a traditional Kölsch beer, the clean freshness welcomes pairings with crab, halibut, salads or just warm weather.
Availability – AK, AZ, CA, CO, ID, MN, MT, NV, OR, WA, WY
Summer Love Ale | Victory Brewing Co.
Summer Love is a glowing golden ale. With the sublime, earthy familiarity of Noble, American and German hops, backed up by fresh and clean German malts. Summer Love Ale ends with a surprising burst of lemony refreshment from fistfuls of American whole flower hops. The beer was commissioned by the Greater Philadelphia Marketing and Tourism Corporation in order to capture the essence of Philadelphia, which is rich in history and flavor. Summer Love was the official beer of Philly Beer Week.
Availability – AK, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, PR, RI, SC, TN, TX, VT, VA, WA, WI
SummerBright | Breckenridge Brewery
This refreshing golden ale with hints of citrus is brewed with organic orange and lemon peel. This bright, clean beer is ideal for summertime quaffing—highly drinkable and revitalizing—a perfect accompaniment to picnic menus, apres-biking, or back porch relaxing. SummerBright is now available in cans, which makes it an ideal partner for summer outdoor activities!
Availability – AR, AZ, CO, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, MI, MN, MO, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, SC, SD, TX, VA, WI, WV
Lager beer was developed in southern Germany around the 16th century. Lager beers use a particular yeast strain which prefers a colder temperature. During fermentation, the yeast cells remain at the bottom of the wort; this phenomenon gave rise to the term “bottom fermented.” Extended cold-aging produces a smooth, clean flavor profile emphasizing both malt and hops.
Whistler Imperial Pils | Karl Strauss Brewing Co.
The grassy and floral bitterness of Saaz hops makes this no ordinary Pilsner, while authentic Moravian malts provide a toasted malt balance that welcomes another sip. Finishing crisp and dry, this addition to the Coastal Reserve Series is right at home in one of America’s finest beer city.
Availability – CA
LTD 03 | Full Sail Brewing
The third addition to Full Sail’s LTD Series is pale-golden in colored, Pilsner-style Lager, <!–[endif]–>featuring a spicy floral hop aroma, malty medium body, and a smooth, thirst quenching finish. ABV 5.6% IBU 35
Availability – AK, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, ID, LA, MD, MA, MN, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, TX, UT, VA, WA, WY
Mexican Logger | Ska Brewing Co.
Ska began brewing Mexican Logger in the summer of 2001. “We had been going through a multi-summer Mexican-style cerveza phase, sometimes even drinking them instead of Ska beers when it was particularly hot out,” said Ska co-founder Dave Thibodeau. “Well, that couldn’t fly for long, so we decided to brew our own beer to put limes in, or not.”
Mexican Logger (5 % ABV, 18 IBUs), is brewed with a yeast strain from Mexico City and a light helping of Saaz hops. It’s the only Lager Ska regularly brews.
Availability – AZ, NM, CO, MO, NE, KS, NC, IL, TX
Craft Lager | Upslope Brewing Co.
Upslope has just introduced Upslope Craft Lager to the state of Colorado. The small Boulder brewery has been so impressed with the Colorado Trout Unlimited team and the work that they are doing, that they pledged to donate 1% of the revenues from the sales of this can to their efforts. They protect Colorado watersheds not only for trout, but for our beer.
Availability – CO
Fruit, Flowers and Herbs
Traditional flavors with the addition of summery flavors and aromas have caused some fans to refer to them as “summer in a glass.”
Good Glory | Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
Good Glory is a Belgian-style Single, brewed exclusively for Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen in collaboration with Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project. The use of rich Vienna and Munich malts gives the beer a dark copper appearance with a light malt character. A special Belgian yeast creates plum and dried fruits on the nose with a subtle hint of spice, which is complimented by a touch of hops and a delicate lavender aroma.
Availability – CO
Flowers Infusion | Willimantic Brewing Co.
Flowers Infusion is a Saison with hibiscus, lavender, chamomile, rose buds, and calendula. The beer is hopped with Marynka, a polish hop variety. Wildflower honey and a French Saison yeast round out this summery Saison.
This summer, Willimantic will also be featuring Saison Noir, Dyvil Hopyard Double IPA, and Simon Saaz-on.
Availability – CT
Summer Basil Farmhouse Ale | Fullsteam Brewery
Summer Basil is a Farmhouse Ale brewed with basil from Elysian Farm (Cedar Grove, N.C.). Six pounds of whole-leaf basil is added per batch; yet the beer retains a subtle basil aroma and taste that favors nuance over obvious. The beer pours with a creamy, white head and a bouquet of herbs and flowers. A refreshing thirst-quencher. A lawnmower beer…if you mowed over your herb garden.
Summer Basil was the very first batch brewed on Fullsteam’s commercial brewing system, and it is offered only when local basil is in-season.
Availability – NC
St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale | Odell Brewing Co.
Light in color, St. Lupulin is a dry-hopped extra Pale Ale with a clean and crisp finish. The brewers selected a variety of hops, including Cascade and Centennial, that create a bright citrus and floral aroma and flavor. Hints of grapefruit balance the subtle, sweet malt base. St. Lupulin has an ABV of 6.5%, and is available through September in the brewery’s ten state distribution region.
Availability – AZ, CO, ID, KS, MN, MO, NE, NM, SD, WY
Japanese Green Tea IPA | Stone Brewing Co.
Brewed in collaboration with Baird Brewing (Japan) and Ishii Brewing Co. (Guam) Japanese Green Tea IPA is very summery indeed. Profits from the sale of the beer will be going to the Japanese Red Cross Society (a minimum of $50,000). It’s also dry hopped with a new strain of hops from Alsace, France, called Aramis, then dry hopped with Sorachi Ace and sencha green tea.
Availability – AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA
Springboard | Swamp Head Brewery
This Blonde Ale, brewed by Swamp Head brewmaster Craig Birkmaier, features Biscuit and Munich malts to provide a slightly bready aroma and rich malty character. A burst of Sorachi Ace hops at knockout provides a bright, hoppy aroma and finish without bitterness.
Swamp Head suggests serving Springboard with a cracked kaffir or key lime leaf.
Availability – FL
What seasonals have you enjoyed so far this summer?
Andy Sparhawk, the Brewers Association’s Craft Beer Program Coordinator, is a Certified Cicerone TM and BJCP Beer Judge. He lives in Lakewood, Colorado where he is a homebrewer and avid craft beer enthusiast. On occasion, Andy is inspired to write on his experiences with craft beer pairings, and if they are not too ridiculous, you might see the results here on CraftBeer.com.