Summer 2021 may be over, but even in the large-scale absence of beach fêtes, block parties, and street festivals, we all found plenty of opportunities to crack open a cold one and toast our first responders, marching demonstrators, and friends and family on Zoom calls and at socially distanced gatherings. Innovative brewers around the country and around the world clearly have no intention of slowing their creative pace, offering imbibers an ever-changing array of brand-new releases — like these 11 best summer beet recommendations, all ideal for sunny days and warm nights. It’s not your typical summer shandy beer picks so extend some of the last few warm weather days with a refreshing craft beer.
Outdoor concerts won’t be a common occurrence this summer, but even if the closest you get to a raucous music experience involves a backyard campfire and some high-quality Bluetooth speakers, you can still enjoy a brew specifically crafted with rock ‘n roll in mind. Seattle-based Elysian Brewing Co. recently collaborated with Rolling Stone magazine to create Rolling Stone Lager, a medium-bodied beer with notes of orange and botanicals. This beer drinks lighter than a typical lager, but its complex flavors elevate it above a typical “porch pounder.” A cooling period in the fridge prior to drinking won’t stifle Rolling Stone Lager’s fragrant profile, making it a perfect treat on a sweltering summer evening. Elysian Rolling Stone is available for sale at retailers nationwide.
Stella Artois’ signature pilsner is ubiquitous at bars and restaurants throughout the U.S., so it’s a bit surprising that the Belgian brewery has never released a summer seasonal beer … until now. Stella Artois Solstice, a golden lager, features a light body, an undercurrent of citrus, and a clean, crisp finish (courtesy of the triple-filter process used to make the beer). It also rings in at a 4.5% ABV (compared to 5.2% for Stella Artois Pilsner), so it’s easy to enjoy all day long (and well into the night). Stella Artois Solstice Lager can be purchased nationwide.
“Mexican-style” lagers traditionally include a relatively low alcohol content, a refreshing crispness, and a delicate balance of bitter and sweet flavors. Cult-favorite Texas brewery Lone Star chose this beer style for its 2020 summer seasonal release, resulting in Rio Jade Lager, which, according to Lone Star, is “ locally brewed in the Hill Country of Austin with the finest ingredients Texas has to offer, including award-winning malt from Blacklands Malt, the first malt house to use Texas-grown barley.” Lone Star Rio Jade is available for purchase throughout the state of Texas.
Bright, hoppy, and slightly more potent than other popular summer-beer genres, IPAs feel inherently festive, which accounts for their regular appearances at backyard BBQs and on outdoor beer garden draft lists. Hazy IPAs (also known as “New England IPAs”) feature double dry-hopping and a lack of filtration, resulting in an aromatic brew with bright notes reminiscent of tropical fruits. Basically, they’re ideal summer sippers, and the newest hazy IPA from Massachusetts-based Springdale Brewing Co., the Back Pocket IPA, delivers nuanced flavors, a clean finish, and a substantial 6.8% ABV. Springdale Back Pocket
The hospitality industry took a major hit this year, courtesy of COVID-required shutdowns. Restaurants and bars in most American cities are either reopening or are in the process of contemplating their next phases, but weeks of drastically reduced revenue (or no revenue at all) put local spots in serious need of assistance. Baltimore-based Union Craft Brewing wants to help city eateries, and the brand’s relief plan involves a brand-new double IPA release fittingly entitled “Somebody To Lean On.” Union describes this West Coast-inspired brew as a “sticky icky, dank and fruity Double
“Fluffy” may seem like an odd adjective for an IPA, but this new release from acclaimed Brooklyn microbrewery Grimm Ales earns the descriptor with its soft, foamy mouthfeel, heady 8% ABV, and summer-perfect flavors of “papaya and guava and background hints of lime, black tea, and sweet coconut cream.” Grimm Ales Fluffy Tufts Double
California-based brewery Firestone Walker abides by a simple and straightforward mantra: “Flavors Through Hops.” The Firestone Walker team doesn’t add fruit juices to its beers; rather, the brand uses a blend of different hops to inform the flavors and aromas of their brews. In its most recent Luponic Distortion IPA release, Firestone Walker brought six hops from three continents to the brewing process, resulting in a refreshing end product with flavors reminiscent of peaches, pear drop candies, and dragonfruit. Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion
If you’re looking for a beer to match a grilled feast, then the newest release from Denver-based Seedstock Brewery has you covered. This year, Seedstock decided to introduce “gratzer,” a beer style dating back to 15th-century Prussia, to contemporary U.S. drinkers. It’s made with oat-smoked wheat malt, which offers the beer a smoky backbone and a gentle sweetness. The Gratzer’s yellow hue, light and crisp texture, and frothy head combine with its layered flavor blend to create a true “Champagne of beers” and a total barbecue MVP. Seedstock Brewery Gratzer can be purchased to-go at Seedstock Brewery.
21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco has serious skills where fruit beers are concerned; The brand’s Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer is a cult classic for excellent reason. This summer, 21st Amendment chose to debut a light, effervescent ale packed with fruit flavors like pineapple and coconut. At only 4.2% ABV, Tropical Sparkale is a marathon beer rather than a sprinter, and it’s designed to enjoy ice-cold right out of the fridge or cooler. 21st Amendment Tropical Sparkale can be found in all 30 states in the brewery’s distribution area.
A German style of sour beer, gose traditionally contains citrus notes in its overall flavor motif, so it’s not terribly shocking to see a craft brewery amping up the lime factor and creating a gose variation inspired by one of summertime’s most beloved cocktails: The margarita. Great Divide Brewing Co. in Denver devised its Margarita Gose in order to “capture the vibe of the poolside cabana” and paired it with the refreshing characteristics of a traditional sour German ale. Lime juice and Himalayan rock salt count among the infusion ingredients used for this gose, and the beer also spends some time aging in used tequila barrels to really clinch the margarita parallels. Great Divide Brewing Margarita Gose is available for purchase at Colorado retailers and online in select states.
In the minds of many beer drinkers, stouts and porters reach the height of their appeal during the colder seasons, thanks to their heavier weight and warming properties. But the team at Weathered Souls Brewing in San Antonio wants breweries around the country to join them right now for a thrilling stout-focused project: The Black Is Beautiful initiative. This endeavor will involve a 10% ABV stout recipe provided by Weathered Souls, which participating breweries can use and customize. These breweries will then release their spins on the recipe, with a Black Is Beautiful label (designed by Weathered Souls collaborators) on each can or bottle. The partner breweries will take responsibility for their releases and distribution (so keep an eye on your local breweries to see if they’re part of the project!), and Weathered Souls asks that all proceeds be donated to “local foundations that support police brutality reform and legal defenses for those who have been wronged.” We can’t think of a better beer to represent Summer 2020.
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