Thirsty Thursday: Best Summer Beers

by  Teresa Bitler | May 30, 2013
Beer / Ridofranz/iStock

Summer is the perfect time to pop the top on an ice cold beer. But, not just any beer will do. Warm weather lends itself to lighter, crisper brews, and these nine offerings fit the bill as some of the best summer beers. Enjoy at home, or better yet, include a brewery tour on your summer vacation itinerary.

Twilight Summer Ale: Produced by Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon, this blonde ale has light hints of summer fruits like peaches and mango. Take a tour of the facility then road trip to Portland where you can tour Widmer Brothers and sample their Citra Blonde.

Hop Sun: Like most good wheat beers, Hop Sun smells of bread and has refreshing citrus notes that pair well with summer foods. If you’re in Lakewood, New York, stop by Southern Tier Brewing Company for a tour. Midwestern beer lovers can head to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to sample Wheat Monkey and tour Lakefront Brewery.

Florida Cracker: Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida, offers a variation on the wheat beer, a Belgian-style witbier, which is slightly more carbonated and cloudy than its counterparts. Expect to taste orange, coriander, and vanilla.

Festina Peche: Summer and fruit go hand and hand. Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales has captured the taste of fresh peaches in its Festina Peche seasonal beer. Learn how it’s made on a tour of the Milton, Delaware brewery (reservations required). Or, get a cold one on draft at Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, the brewery’s restaurant, in Rehoboth Beach.

Hell or High Watermelon: Can’t get enough summer fruit? 21st Amendment Brewery produces a watermelon wheat beer that works well with barbecue. If you're in San Francisco, though, stop by the brewery’s restaurant for a burger or pizza and a beer. The restaurant also serves housemade sodas. Ask for the flavor of the day.

Karma: Buy a pint of this Belgian ale at Avery Brewing in Boulder, Colorado, to take on a free brewery tour, and for $2, you can keep the commemorative glass. Then, head to Denver. Breckenridge Brewery offers multiple free tours on Saturday, and you can sample the Summer Bright Ale.

Summer Beer: What it lacks in an original name, Summer Beer makes up for in taste. The kolsch – a light, hoppy beer first brewed in Koln, Germany – has lemon notes and a dry profile. See how it’s made on a tour at Harpoon Brewery in Boston, Massachusetts. Or, tour the Lancaster Brewing Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to learn about its kolsch. Chicago’s Goose Island also produces a kolsch, Summertime.

Curious Traveler Shandy: Beers leave you feeling too full? Try a shandy, which cuts the beer with soda or juice. The Traveler Beer Company in Burlington, Vermont, specializes in shandies, including its lemony Curious Traveler Shandy. In Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, you can tour Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, known for its Summer Shandy.

Cinco Oros: Del Norte Brewing Company is the only brewer in the United States that focuses on authentic Mexican-style beers, and although its lightly-hopped Cinco Oros is available year round, it’s perfectly suited for the summer months.

What are your favorite summer beers and brewery tours?

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