It's hot, it's humid, and you want some suds. Do you really need another semi-chilled IPA? Hops are great for adding bitterness and acidic flavors to beer, but if you consume too much at this time of year, you end up with a dry mouth instead of that clean refreshment you're looking for. Here are eight craft alternatives for summer's warmest months.
Bell’s Oberon Ale
When you think of wheat beers, you probably think of something yellow, a little bready, and wrongfully served with a slice of orange plonked in the glass. Oberon Ale will destroy your preconceptions. The wheat base is brewed with an ale yeast and has that signature smooth body, but it's then hopped like a pale ale so you get more grapefruit and pepper than banana and clove. It'll start disappearing from shelves as Labor Day approaches. If you're smart, you'll grab a few extra six-packs for early fall.
Pretty Things Jack D’Or
This beer is a strange beast brewed with five kinds of malt, including oats and rye, plus four types of hops and four types of yeast. At its core, Jack D'Or is basically a unique style of saison, or French farmhouse-style beer. It's bright gold in color and has a soapy head that tempers a hefty dose of carbonation that borders on soda territory. There's a big hit of lemon up front, followed by what can only be described as wet dirt and tree bark. You might not know that you like those flavors. One sip, and you will.
Gose is a style that's been surging in popularity over the last year or two—and for good reason. They're sour beers brewed with salt, some of which lingers in every sip. Jammer is a light version of the style and a good intro if you haven't strayed too far into lip-pucker territory yet. It's a strange flavor and one that shouldn't work, but it does—and you won't be able to put the stuff down. Plus it comes in skinny cans that look as if they're ready for the beach (which is exactly where this should be drunk).
Ommegang Rare Vos
Some of the best Belgian-style beers in the U.S. are made on a farm tucked into the side of a hill in upstate New York. Rare Vos is a basic amber with orange peel, grains of paradise, and lavender added during the brewing process. It might sound more like a bowl of potpourri than a glass of beer, but you won't pick any of those notes out individually. Instead, Rare Vos has enough body to be satisfying, enough fruitiness to be refreshing, and enough spiciness to keep it from getting cloying when you're throwing it back under the sun.
Schlafly Raspberry Hefeweizen
Yes, this is a fruit-infused wheat beer. It might even be my favorite beer on this list. St. Louis's Schlafly brewing makes a Raspberry Hefeweizen that has none of the artificial sweetness of its competitors and forces you to stop and think about what you're tasting, instead of guessing raspberry lemonade. It's dry, it's thirst quenching, and it's a good enough reason for a Midwestern road trip all. Skeptics, take note.
Goose Island Sofie
The Bourbon County Stout gets all the attention for Goose Island, but the Chicago brewery's lighter, easier to find offerings are every bit as good. Sofie is a saison aged in wine barrels on top of orange peels, giving it a slightly funky edge. The barrels add some faint vanilla to the finish, while up front, you get all the awesome spice and citrus you want from a farmhouse ale. The carbonation is fine and even; comparisons to Champagne are totally fair.
Unibroue La Fin du Monde
Most of this list is light, easy drinking beer, but even when it's hot outside, you sometimes want a kick in the pants. La Fin du Monde is the answer to that day-drunk urge. The Canadian interpretation of a Belgian Tripel is 9 percent alcohol; it has a creamy mouth feel and tiny bubbles that add just enough levity to the hefty brew. It tastes of tropical fruits, fresh baked brioche, and bright pink bubble gum. You get a little zip of alcohol in the aftertaste, reminding you that this isn't a smoothie.
Victory Prima Pils
Sometimes a good ol' fashioned pilsner is the best thing for the job. Easy drinking doesn't get any easier than this, though there are tons of metallic-tasting, corn-packed pilsners out there that you want to avoid. Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing has basically perfected the style with Prima Pils. It smells like fresh-cut grass sprinkled over a bowl of Cheerios and the flavor is a mix of citrus, green apple, and crackers, finishing smooth and just sweet enough to make you want more.
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