This year, in our quest to find the perfect summer beer, we decided to go straight to the source: some of America's most exciting brewers. We asked them to name the favorite summer quencher from their portfolio, along with a refreshing pick from another brewery they revere (i.e., true “brewer’s brews”). From deceivingly simple pilsners to matured sour beer, here are 12 eclectic options that will take you through the warmer months ahead.
Tim Adams, Owner and Director of Brewing Operations, Oxbow Brewing Co.
His Brew: Crossfade
"As a farmhouse brewery, we specialize in producing refreshing blonde ales year-round, so our portfolio offers many options for perfect summertime beers. At the top of that list is Crossfade, a crisp saison that features a harmonious and thirst-quenching combination of hop character, gentle acidity, and Oxbow’s signature dry finish."
Outside Pick: Allagash Brewing Co., White
"As a Maine resident, I am extremely fortunate to have fresh Allagash White readily available around every corner of this wonderful state. Belgian-style witbier is one of the undeniable champions of warm-weather refreshment, and it can easily be argued that Maine’s very own Allagash White is the finest example in the world."
Jeremy Marshall, Master Brewer, Lagunitas Brewing Co.
His Brew: Aunt Sally
"Aunt Sally is a true dual-fermentation beer made with two exclusive organisms. The first is lactic acid bacteria which convert a small portion of the grain sugars into lactic acid, which is well known in the wine world to be both smooth and velvety. The second is a normal yeast fermentation with our house ale strain. Then we hit it with a massive dry-hop that creates intense citrus and berry notes."
Outside Pick: Mort Subite, Oude Gueuze
"This is a spontaneously fermented beer that truly exemplifies the statement that gueuze is the 'Champagne of Brussels.' Time is the most precious ingredient to Belgian brewers, and good things come to those who wait. Old Gueuze is a blend of mostly 3-year-old beer aged in oak barrels with a small portion of 'young' beer. It is effervescent, tart, funky, and sublimely refreshing."
Ed Marszewski, 'El Jefe,' Marz Community Brewing Co.
His Brew: Jungle Boogie
"In Chicago, the weather is pretty weird, and we always look forward to summer so we can enjoy being outdoors. It was in the summer of 2013 when we came up with the idea for our brewery. We had a picnic to celebrate the journey we were about to begin, and fellow brewer Eli Espinoza brought over a batch of a pale wheat ale with rooibos tea in it. We call it Jungle Boogie. It has an orange color with fresh tropical fruits in the nose. It’s juicy, floral, fruity, and has a peachy, lightly sweet hoppiness about it that is very unique."
Outside Pick: Half Acre Beer Co., Vallejo
"I know spring is in effect and summer is around the corner when I see Half Acre’s Vallejo India Pale Ale cans on the shelf. It’s a Chicago version of a west coast IPA; hoppy, bitter, and to be crushed in a 16-ounce can. I love how Half Acre uses the 16oz. can as a canvas for artwork. Artist Phineas Jones’s design reflects Half Acre’s progressive and forward-thinking aesthetic—something I enjoy as much as the beer itself."
Tony Pellino, Assistant Brewer, OEC Brewing (Ordinem Ecentrici Coctores)
His Brew: Exilis
"Our Berliner-style weisse beer is the one and only beer we brew only for the warm months. Exilis has an aroma of inviting funk, mixed with citrus tartness, and a flavor profile to match, but with greater depth than you’d ever expect in a beer weighing in only at 3.8 percent alcohol by volume. For a twist on it, add in fruit syrup. We go with our homemade raspberry syrup at the brewery."
Outside Pick: Birrificio Italiano, Tipopils
"In a world overrun by juice-bomb IPAs and barrel-aged everything, sometimes it is nice to take a step back and remember how magnificent a truly great lager can be—especially the pinnacle pilsner on the planet, Tipopils. Showcasing a decadent malt bill of predominately pilsner and a hint of caramel malt, it is perfectly balanced by an onslaught of noble hops. It is crisp, refreshing, complex, and easy-drinking, all at the same time. Find this and consume it at any and all costs."
David Sakolsky, 'Libations Lackey' and Co-founder, Deciduous Brewing Co.
His Brew: Arose
"Our interpretation of a hoppy 4.8 percent alcohol-by-volume pale ale, brewed with a rotating dry-hop. On the nose, a mix of tropical fruits and underripe bush berries mixed with a little, dank forest-floor note. Palate is light and airy: crisp up front with some hay and light grain, which give way to a hefty swing of light stone fruit, a slightly herbal citrus note, and a soft kiss of blueberry as the back end softens up."
Outside Pick: Brasserie Dieu du Ciel!, Solstice d’Été Aux Framboises
"Dieu du Ciel! Solstice d’Été is my desert island beer. It's a beer I always try to keep in the fridge, and for good reason. It's a hugely bright framboise, akin to a literal raspberry smoothie in fruit character, with a beautifully done acid profile, wonderful carbonation, and an alcohol by volume just higher than one might expect—just an absolutely delicious creation, in my opinion."
Dan Suarez, Brewer and Owner, Suarez Family Brewery
His Brew: Crispy Little
"One of the first beers to hit kegs in our brewery this summer will be Crispy Little, our hoppy American-style wheat ale. We love brewing beers with heavy doses of wheat, and something about that bouncy texture and bright, snappy flavor that it lends to beers just screams 'Summer!' Crisp, low alcohol by volume, and drenched with grapefruit-y hop character. This one just tastes like sunshine, damnit."
Outside Pick: Threes Brewing, Vliet Pilsner
"Summertime calls for the ultimate in quaff-ability, and that usually means lean pilsner-type beers in our household. We have been obsessed with Threes Brewing's Vliet Pilsner since first tasting it last year, and we can't wait to drink several liters whilst basking in the rays. Vliet is chock-full of gorgeous, citric European hop character and is sure to make beer drinkers reassess what a 'hoppy beer' should taste like."