8 Best Summer Beers to Buy Right Now
The perfect summer beers are crisp, refreshing, and best enjoyed outdoors—whether it's on a beach or at a backyard barbeque. A summer beer can be just about any style, as long as it's an easy-drinking brew to quench your thirst in the warm weather.
"For me, a summer beer tastes good in quantity and doesn't have enough alcohol for that to be a problem," says Michael Tonsmeire, co-founder of Sapwood Cellars Brewery in Columbia, Md. "The hope is to have a balanced flavor with enough bitterness or acidity that leaves you looking for another sip."
If you're shopping for new beers at the grocery store, keep an eye out for the ABV, or alcohol by volume. The lower the ABV, the lower the alcohol content. That means you can drink a few cans without getting silly.
"Typically, when the weather gets hot, people are really looking for something refreshing and thirst quenching," says master beer sommelier Roger Mittag, creator of Canada's Prud'homme Beer Certification program. "We want beers with lighter bodies that don't fill our palates up."
Experts say summertime is also a great time to experiment with lighter beers with stone fruit flavors, like peach or raspberry. So leave those dark and heavy stouts on the shelves and try out these eight warm-weather faves instead.
Bell's Light Hearted Ale
In 2020, Bell's Brewery launched Light Hearted Ale, a low-calorie, low-ABV session IPA inspired by its now-iconic Two Hearted Ale that debuted in 1997. Aromatic and easy drinking, this American IPA features aromas of citrus and pine. "The look and feel bring this above many of its low-cal peers," wrote one reviewer. It's a light beer with only 110 calories, making it easily crushable on a hot summer day—why not try a couple?
Five Boroughs Gridlock Hazy IPA
New England IPAs, aka Hazy IPAs, have seen a meteoric rise in popularity in the American craft beer scene lately. And thanks to a sweeter, juicier flavor, a hazy can be the perfect beer for long summer nights. "New England IPAs tend toward less bitterness and more tropical fruit and they can be wonderful during the summer," says Mittag. This one from Five Boroughs Brewing Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y., offers a "tropical traffic jam of flavor." Expect notes of fresh orange zest and tropical kiwi and lime. "I'll happily sip this on a summer afternoon," one reviewer wrote.
Victory Prima Pils
Prima Pils from Victory Brewing Company is a top-rated German Pilsner on Beer Advocate, a beer review website. Crisp and distinct, this pilsner is brewed with German hops that combine notes of floral and spice with citrus and lemon. Talk about easy drinking. "Light beers are very refreshing, but Pilsners—especially German Pilsners—have a little more body and slightly more bitterness that makes them very thirst quenching," says Mittag.
Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen
Have you tried the world's first Hefeweizen grapefruit beer? Schöfferhofer's Grapefruit Hefeweizen is a true 50-50 blend of unfiltered wheat beer and carbonated grapefruit juice, a combo that brewers commonly call a "radler." According to the Schöfferhofer website, "Almost nothing better quenches your thirst on a hot summer's day." The German brewing company's low-alcohol radler would work perfectly as a mimosa substitute at brunch. It's best served super cold. "Many radlers are lower alcohol and quite effervescent which makes them really easy to drink," says Mittag.
Fruity and refreshing, this is a summer must-try, offering a perfect balance of citrus and spice. Brewed in Portland, Maine, Allagash White is an award-winning interpretation of a Belgian-style wheat beer, or witbier. Expect a slightly cloudy appearance with notes of coriander and Curaçao orange peel. "This is one heck of a beer. Incredible flavor and texture all in a supremely refreshing package," one reviewer wrote.
Goose Island 312 Lemonade Shandy
Here's a lemony, juicy, option from Goose Island Brewery. Brewers add flavors of Italian lemon ice to their 312 Urban Wheat Ale to get a crisp, slightly tart shandy with notes of lemon zest and wheat. A shandy like this is a perfect option for those who may not be into bold beers: "The taste is straight-up lemonade with some wheat beer flavor, which is really nice on a hot summer day," wrote one reviewer.
Prairie Artisan Ales Vape Tricks
Prairie Artisan Ales, a small third-wave brewery from Oklahoma, is punching above its weight with this one. Packaged with an eye-catching and playful pink label, Vape Tricks is a sour ale aged on cherries, which gives it a nice red hue. Expect a deliciously tart sour with a balanced flavor and a good amount of carbonation. "Cherries are present, but not overwhelming. Solid summer beer," one reviewer wrote.
Brooklyn Brewery Non-Alcoholic Special Effects Hoppy Amber
The non-alcoholic beer market is expected to grow by double digits in the next few years, driven by recent trends in health and wellness. If you're curious what's going on in the NA beer space, try Brooklyn Brewery's Special Effects Hoppy Amber: a hoppy lager-style brew with a zesty aroma and bitter finish. It tastes like a regular beer—but without the hangover.