Beer Styles for Summer Drinking
Summer's the perfect time to relax and knock back a cold one, whether you're vacationing somewhere tropical or you're tired after doing the yard work. But it's not just any beer that matches well with the hot weather, and the dark, thick beers in particular aren't well suited for summer refreshment duty. Given the huge variety of beers available these days, we thought it would be useful to provide a short guide on some of the beer styles you might want to try for your summer thirst quencher.
Known as Weissbier (white beer) or Weizenbier (wheat beer), this Bavarian beer has a significant portion of the malted barley replaced with malted wheat. This beer comes in filtered (kristallweizen) or unfiltered (hefeweizen). The unfiltered version might turn some people off since it looks cloudy from the presence of yeast and certain wheat proteins, but its low hop bitterness and relatively high carbonation not only balance the malty sweetness, they also make this beer one of the more refreshing ones to drink in the heat of summer.Tasters can get notes of clove, banana, bubble gum, and vanilla.
One of the most familiar beer styles, this pale lager takes its name from the city of Pilsen, in the Czech republic. If you want to taste the original brew, you'll need to find a bottle by Pilsner Urquell, the name the original company goes by these days. If you manage to find it, you'll have the privilege of tasting the clear, golden product of bright malts, Pilsen's soft water, and special hops that's been winning taste buds the world over since the 1800s.
This light and refreshing ale is related to pale lager. It also experiences the lagering process that gives beer a cleaner flavor, with help from adjuncts like corn and rice, which also help lighten the body or mouthfeel of the beer. Hop and malt flavors are also usually subdued, making for very easy drinking for the summer months.
Steam Beer – California Common
Steam beer is brewed using lager yeasts at warm fermentation temperatures. The result is a highly effervescent beer with a woodsy, rustic, or minty taste and moderate to high strength. Perfect for sipping in the afternoon heat.
This is a local specialty brewed in Cologne, Germany, with a clear, bright straw-yellow color, prominent hops flavor, and less bitterness than the run-of-the-mill German pale lager. While production of the real thing is governed by strict regulations and an association of breweries, a good number of microbreweries in the United States are brewing beers in the Kolsch style.
Pale ale is another major beer style. It's made predominantly with pale malt, which is the reason for the lighter color. Within the same classification, though, there's a large variation in terms of strength and taste owing to different producers using different brewing practices and hops levels. The downside of this variety is that sometimes you won't be sure of what you're getting, but on the other hand there's bound to be a variation that suits you, whatever your preference. Some of the styles that fall under the pale ale classification are Irish, American, and India Pale Ale, as well as Amber Ale, English Bitters, Blondes, and Biers de Garde.
Saison is a style of pale ale that's fizzy, fruity, and spicy, sometimes due to the actual addition of spices. Averaging 7% abv, these ales are no lightweights in the alcohol department, but they used to be much less – their origins as farmhouse beers brewed for the purpose of rehydrating farmhands during the hot summer months meant they needed to be drinkable in large amounts. While the modern versions are stronger, their flavor profile still makes for refreshing summer drinking.
Brandon Peters is a writer, entrepreneur, and student of all things alcohol and food related. He loves trying the unfamiliar bottles he sees when he walks into a bar.