When planning a recent Sunday at the pool, I found that my most difficult decision of the afternoon was selecting what beer to drink. Under a bright summer sun, I didn’t want to be sipping a heavy stout; I wanted a light, refreshing lager that would go down smoothly. To my delight, much of the beer selection at the nearby Walgreens catered exactly to this desire, with a variety of seasonal beers that breweries produce only in the summer months. There’s Blue Moon‘s Honey Moon, which gets its name from the clover honey added to it. There’s also Samuel Adams‘ Summer Ale, which uses a rare pepper from Africa called Grains of Paradise to add some spice to the seasonal beer.
But my personal favorite is Shock Top‘s Lemon Shandy, a Belgian-style wheat ale. For those beer drinkers who prefer a drink that isn’t so light, I’ve also taken the time to try out Texas’ very own Shiner Ruby Redbird, a lager, and Sierra Nevada‘s Summerfest, a pilsner-style lager.
Shock Top’s Lemon Shandy: It wouldn’t be quite right to say that this seasonal tastes like alcoholic lemonade. Though it has a distinctive lemon aftertaste that glides down the throat smooth as sunshine, it’s not as sweet as lemonade and doesn’t make your teeth feel like they will be coated in sugar by the time you’ve cleaned out the bottle. Instead, it’s crisp and refreshing and was so tasty that even my Guinness-loving boyfriend liked it. With citrus, coriander, natural lemonade flavor and, yes, some sugar, this beer is a classic summer drink — so make sure to bring a six-pack to the next neighborhood barbecue while it’s still on the shelves.
Shiner Ruby Redbird: To enjoy this beer, you’ve got to appreciate the citrus-y taste of grapefruit (which I do). But it’s not just any grapefruit: Spoetzl Brewery made sure to stay local by adding the Rio Grande Valley’s ruby red grapefruit to its summer concoction. I was pleasantly surprised by the beer’s crisp but not overbearing tartness, complemented perfectly by a slight kick of ginger. Beware, though, of letting this beer get too hot under the blazing sun. When it was at a lukewarm temperature, I began to feel that I was sipping from a soy sauce bottle.
Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest: This crisp brew lacks the summer flavors of lemonade or grapefruit, but it’s undeniably perfect for those hot lazy days laying out by the pool or grilling on the Fourth of July. It’s got both spicy and floral hops, as well as the hint of a malt sweetness (although it’s certainly not as sweet as the Lemon Shandy). As fellow Bitch Beer girl Shaun Martin put it, it tastes similar to New Belgium‘s Sunshine Wheat, a year-round concoction that is also great for some summer fun. But the Summerfest is available for a limited time only, just like the others, so enjoy it while you can.
These are just three of seasonal beers offered in the summertime. Visit your local grocery store to find some others — and check out this earlier post from Shaun about other beach beer options.