It’s common knowledge that darker beers are for cold months and lighter beers are for warm months. But what exactly should you be drinking this summer—and why?
We’ve put together a quick summer beer primer to help you ensure that you’ve been picking the right brews to quench your thirst.
Seasonal “Summer Ales”
This seems a bit like a no-brainer. But with so many seasonal beers in circulation, there’s no excuse not to give some a try. Find a brewery that you like and try its summer seasonal. Summer ales tend to be lower in alcohol content as well as in color, with many pale ales, saisons, and wheat beers floating around.
Sour Beers and Weisse
German-style Weisse (wheat beers) are sour, cloudy-colored beers that are frequently served with flavored syrups. Berliner Weisse (Berlin wheat beers) are most common with raspberry or sweet woodruff (Waldmeister) syrups, but you can get creative with your own mixtures. Belgian-style sour beers are fermented to achieve a sourness similar to that of the Weisse. They are red or amber colored, many are barrel aged, and some are brewed with spices such as coriander, wort, and salt to create unique flavors. Belgian sours include lambics, Flemish reds, and Flemish brown (oud bruin). In general, sours range in alcohol by volume from 4 percent to 8 percent.
Like Weisse, Hefeweizen are wheat beers. But they are brewed with higher proportions of wheat and a different kind of yeast. Hefeweizen are known for their citrus notes and a refreshing, tart flavor that is thick and edgy. They also have a characteristic cloudy orange color. The alcohol by volume for these beers ranges from 4 percent to 7 percent.
Another German brew that is more like a cocktail, Radler is a blend of pilsner and lemonade. Radlers haven’t been so common in the US, but you can find them disguised as summer shandy. If you wanted to make one yourself, you could take the German Pilsner of your choice and mix it 50-50 with lemonade or another type of citrus juice or soda. It’s only really a radler with lemonade, though! The alcohol by volume for a Radler is a watered-down 4 percent to 5 percent.
Typically golden in color and fizzy, lagers are malty, bitter, and complex. They are clean-tasting, bright, and well-balanced. Although traditional lagers can be traced to the Czech Republic, there are also German and American lagers. They are all similar, but have different ratios of malt to hops. Lagers range in alcohol by volume from 4 percent to 6 percent.
Pale Ales and Saisons
Pale ales are English in origin, and are usually split into “pale ales” and “American pale ales.” The American version tends to be hoppier, whereas the British version is maltier. Both are very aromatic. Saisons offer extra carbonation along with fruity aromas and spicy flavors. Also known as farmhouse ales because of their origins, saisons are frequently bottle conditioned and range in alcohol by volume from 5 percent to 8 percent.
All that said, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast rules. If you feel like sipping a stout, then go for it! The most important part of enjoying a nice, cold beer is the enjoyment you receive from drinking what you want.
We’re here for you at Noble Hops: When the thermometer gets going into the triple digits—and even if it doesn’t—head over to try something new, old, or beloved from our tap. You won’t leave thirsty!