Spring is in the air, folks. Amidst the rain and gloominess stands the promise of summer and all the wonderful things that come along with it. The smell of fresh cut grass and barbeque will mingle on decks and patios across the nation. Golf courses will be overwhelmed with people in shorts and t-shirts. Lakes and beaches everywhere will be teeming with the masses – and doesn’t beer taste good under the hot summer sun?
The “summer feeling” you’re looking forward to also means big money to brewers of yellow, fizzy beer. In a completely unscientific survey of beer commercials on cable TV, it turns out that they all had three features in common:
-They take place on a beach, a golf course, or at a cabin on a picturesque lake.
-The beer in question has been brewed for its “refreshing” character, which sometimes means adding a tablespoon of iced tea powder or artificial lime flavoring.
-There are attractive women wearing almost no clothing throughout the ad.
Does that formula sound familiar? It’s been polished by marketing agencies and breweries who have been seeking to perfectly distill summer into a glass (or an ad). They’re getting close, too; doesn’t the Michelob Ultra 19th Hole Iced Tea Beer sound like fun? Warm, summery, delicious fun?
It doesn’t. And it certainly doesn’t taste that good either. So what do you do if you’re a craft beer fan and you still want a good summer beer? You want something refreshing, but not bland and preferably local, creative and new, too. Luckily, you don’t have to settle for anything but the best American craft beer for your refreshment needs this summer. For the following list of unique and delicious summer-perfect craft beers, I’ve raided German history for some unreal lager styles. They invented the stuff, and American craft beer makers have elevated the styles to new levels of deliciousness.
Kölsch: There are few styles so technically weird and historically rich as Kölsch. It’s the name given to the top-fermenting light ales made in Cologne, Germany. Served in an unusual 200mL glasses called a ‘stange,’ you’re supposed to drink Kölsch quickly so that the draft doesn’t go stale. As far as taste goes, it’s incredibly lager-like, with a small hint of noble hops and delicate fruity sweetness. And while you can lager it, you don’t have to in order to get its clean flavor, which makes it a tempting recipe for novice homebrewers.
The best-rated American take is COAST Brewery’s 32/50, which nails the Kölsch’s signature balance between floral hops and lager smoothness. Goose Island also makes a Kölsch that might be a little easier to get your hands on, and just as refreshing.
Maibock: Even summer has its rainy, awful days, and the Maibock is just what it takes to get through them with a smile. It’s among the most amped up, hopped and malty of the bock styles, which are already pretty bold as far as lagers go. The classic American example of the Maibock is Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale. If that one’s too familiar, why not try High Point Brewery’s Ramstein Maibock? It skews towards the lighter and more refreshing side of the style, which could be nice if that thunderstorm clears up.
Keller beers. A beer named after the cool cellars that the style originated in, Kellerbier is an unfiltered lager with plenty of hop aroma, little carbonation, and lots of malty sweetness. It pairs surprisingly well with fresh spring air, especially when everything is in bloom. The Sam Adam’s Alpine Lager nails the style, and you should still be able to find it at your local beer store.
Tea beer. Alright, enough laughing – not every tea beer is as unfortunate as Coors Light Iced T. The folks from Toronto’s Mill St. Brewery have been canning their Lemon Tea Beer for the past couple of years, and it’s… something else. This reviewer says it’s “a lot better than you might think.” The flavor is closer to Earl Grey than Nestea, but it’s a great summer sipper in any case.
By now, you’re probably salivating at the thought of cracking a delicious beer after some heavy-duty yard work. Soon enough, summer will be upon us, and now you’ve got a few ideas about what beers can match such an epic season.
Andrew is a Community Coordinator at Appliance Help, an online retailer for parts for refrigerators, and he can’t wait for his German pilsner to finish lagering in time for patio weather.