Some things just belong together: Thunder and lightning. Laverne and Shirley. Bacon and all other foods.

But perhaps no pair is as perfect as beer and summer.

Sure, you can drink a brew anywhere, in any season, but you can’t tell us that sipping a porter by the fireplace in the dead of winter is better than polishing off a pale ale at a Fourth of July BBQ or swimming in the lake on an August afternoon with a packed cooler of pilsners floating right beside you.

Sound like summer nirvana? Fill up a couple sixers with these exceptional warm-weather brews and we’ll meet back here in September.

Three Floyds Zombie Dust 

Type: Pale Ale
Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.2%
Hometown: Munster, Indiana

Swig this single-hop pale ale and you’ll taste loads of peach, passion fruit, and other citrus flavors. “It’s just a fantastic beer with an acidity that makes you want more and more,” says Matt Simpson, a certified beer sommelier who taught a “Beer 101” course at Emery University.

Victory Helios Ale

Type: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 7.5%
Hometown: Downington, Pennsylvania

Despite its substantial ABV, Victory’s lemony, peppery Belgian farmhouse ale is surprisingly thirst-quenching, says Simpson.

“It comes in a big bomber bottle, which is usually meant to be shared,” he says, “but you can drink one of these by yourself in one sitting.”

East End Monkey Boy

Type: Hefeweizen
ABV: 4.8%
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pour this hefe into your pint glass and you’ll catch a strong whiff of banana bread, a unique side effect of East End’s unique German yeast strain. But even if no bananas were actually used during the brewing process, “the fruity infusion makes this just perfect for summer,” says Daniel LaBert, executive director of the Brewers of Pennsylvania.

Stone Go To IPA

Type: Session IPA
ABV: 4.8%
Hometown: Escondido, California

Session IPAs tend to be heavy in hops but relatively light in alcohol. (The more “sessionable” a beer, the more suitable it is for a long drinking session.) The style is still relatively new, but Stone’s stellar offering stands out above the rest, says Simpson.

“It’s still big and in your face with citrus hops like a standard west coast IPA, but it’s much lighter in strength,” he says.

Westbrook Gose

Type: Gose
ABV: 4%
Hometown: Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Goses are German-style sour wheat beers brewed with coriander and salt, which adds a sort of umami characteristic missing from other beer styles. And you won’t find a better American-made gose than this one, Simpson says: It’s tart and acidic enough to satisfy the sour heads, but has a crisp, subtly sweet finish to win over any novice beer lovers.

Great Lakes Steady Rollin’

Type: Session IPA
ABV: 4.8%
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

This is another hot session IPA that’s “more aggressively bitter than a pale ale,” says Julia Herz, the Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers’ Association.

After Great Lakes suggested pairing the malty, citrusy ale with spicy chicken tacos and a lazy river, we did just that. And it was glorious.

Creature Comforts Tropicalia

Type: IPA
ABV: 6.5%
Hometown: Athens, Georgia

This fruit-forward IPA is gaining a rabid following in the southeast on the strength of its huge tropical aromas and juicy, well-balanced taste. “Beer fans across the entire country are trading for this stuff right now,” Simpson says.

Brooklyn Lager

Type: Amber/Red Lager
ABV: 5.2%
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

If you’re used to drinking macro lagers—light, American-style beers like Budweiser, Miller Lite, and Coors—this is the beer that will make you want to try craft, says Simpson.

Boasting a solid hop profile and a nice, smooth finish, “it’s one of the few brews made in the U.S. that proves lagers can have plenty of flavor and body and still be relatively light,” he says.

Susquehanna Brewing Co. Shady Spot Lemon Shandy

Type: Fruit  Beer
ABV: 4.7%
Hometown: Pittston, Pennsylvania

Shandies have existed overseas for centuries, but Americans only recently came to their senses and adopted the style stateside. Good thing they did: The so-simple-it’s-genius combination of beer and lemonade—executed to perfection in SBC’s dangerously drinkable Shady Spot—is refreshingly delicious on a hot summer day, LaBert says.

Dogfish Head Festina Peche

Type: Berliner Weisse
ABV: 4.5%
Hometown: Milton, Delaware

Berliners are light, German wheat beers with a distinctively sour kick. But they’re not easy to make, Simpson says, which is why they tend to skew more local.

The tart, peachy Festina Peche is one of the few Berliners with widespread distribution. Snag a bottle and sip it on a slow afternoon.

Coronado Berry the Hatchet

Type: Hefeweizen
ABV: 4.6%
Hometown: Coronado, California

Coronado brews this ale—newly available outside of California in bottles—with raspberries, blackberries, and boysenberries. The resulting taste is slightly tart, but never sour. “It’s the perfect sessionable beer,” Herz says.

Bell’s Oberon Ale

Type: Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.8%
Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan

This citrusy classic is so revered in the Midwest that Michiganders celebrate its release every year with a series of “Oberon Day” events. The spicy, fruity ale is the quintessential lawnmower beer: ridiculously thirst-quenching, but chock full of character.

“I don’t talk about guzzling beers very often,” Simpson says, “but you can guzzle this one.”

New Belgium Heavy Melon

Type: Fruit Beer
ABV: 5%
Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado

There’s no shame in nursing a Corona and lime by the beach. But if you want that same lime taste with a little bit more nuance—and less sweetness—Avola recommends this ale brewed with juicy watermelon and zesty lime peel.

“The lime is so subtle,” he says, “but it’s very, very refreshing.”

Surly Hell

Type: Helles Lager
ABV: 4.5%
Hometown: Brooklyn Center, Minnesota

This light German lager has a sweet, malty taste—kind of like a loaf of bread that you can drink. There’s only a hint of a hop finish, but it’s enough to add a nice bitter balance to the rest of the beer, Simpson says.

ZeroDay Mango Hab

Type: Pale Ale
ABV: 6%
Hometown: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

This adventurous pale ale fuses sweet mango and habanero heat. Barely a year old, Mango Hab is the newest (and smallest) beer on this list, but “it’s just out of this world,” LaBert says. Ready for a road trip to the Keystone State?

Ommegang Hennepin

Type: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 7.7%
Hometown: Cooperston, New York

Bring a bottle of Hennepin to a classier summer affair, like an outdoor dinner party. The sterling saison has a Champagne-like carbonation and boasts strong flavors like ginger and coriander.

It’s a complex alternative to the more basic Belgians you’ll be drinking all summer long, says Avola.

Grand Teton Snarling Badger

Type: Berliner Weisse
ABV: 7.5%
Hometown: Victor, Idaho

This Berliner’s lemony tartness comes from fermentation with Lactobacillus, the strain of bacteria that gives yogurt its tang. “When you have a beer like this with more sour attributes, it’s going to balance the salt and fat in food really well,” says Herz.

Pair a Badger with a burger and fries and you’ll see what she means. “It will leave your mouth refreshed and ready for the next bite.”

Founders Rubaeus

Type: Fruit Beer
ABV: 5.7%
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

The raspberry-forward Rubaeus earns serious style points for its beautiful red pour, and even more praise for its well-balanced taste. Your tongue will pick up a perfect combination of sweetness and tartness, says Simpson.

“You don’t get any real bitterness here,” he says, “but it’s really, really tasty.”



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