It’s a little surprising that cucumbers and beer don’t have a deeper history. The refreshing gourd, with its signature green and slightly bitter flavor, plays quite nicely with lighter beer styles.
And it’s not just beer. Cucumbers are a great addition to cucumber cocktails, seltzers, mocktails, and more. But as a beer, whether it be a tangy sour or refreshing, summer-ready Berliner Weisse, the cucumber becomes king. With beer, cucumber can impart some coolness to counteract the sizzle of the hops and effervescence, or garden-fresh grassy notes to play off of the acid of a sour beer. In other cases, it can offer a melon rind note that reminds us of hammocks and backyard hangouts.
Even if cucumber is not your thing, though, there’s a decent chance you’ll like how it operates in the company of hops, malt, and grain. The mashup activates something a little extra in cucumber, a food that’s never really been a celebrity but perhaps should be. Long placed under lock and key in the pickle box, the cucumber deserves much more. It’s time for its breakout party and these eleven cucumber beers celebrate just that.
This Tampa-brewed beer is a tasty union of zesty lime and earthy cucumber. As a gose, it presents just the right amount of salinity. And, at just 4.5% ABV, you can drink ’em all day long.
The best of the bunch, 10 Barrel’s original sour ale is a summertime cooler must-have. The central Oregon brewery first launched the beer almost a decade ago. Stylistically, the beer is a kettle sour or Berliner weisse, hit with just the right amount of cucumber (albeit artificial in nature). Taking home gold at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival, it’s a role model in cucumber beer land.
This offering from Colorado’s Odd13 incorporates both cucumber and kale making it — one could at least attempt to argue — “healthy.” There’s a bit of a grapefruit note, probably due to the use of Summit hops, and the beer overall shows a bit more earth than most.
Another sprightly cucumber beer out of Oregon, the Sun Made is radiant with ripe melony flavors. It touts slightly more bitterness than most and a hop bill that yields subtle tropical fruit notes. And the cucumber flavor is front and center, right where it belongs.
Here’s another delicious gose-style brew that demonstrates cucumber’s fondness for complementary flavors. The lemon works great by its side, as does some added coriander and sea salt. It’s as pleasant as a warm swimming pool and a proper floaty.
An outlier in the best of ways, this beer from North Carolina’s Wicked Weed is much more involved. A golden ale crafted with juniper berries, cucumber, and basil, it’s a harmonious mash-up of farm-y flavors. The brewers were wise to age it in gin barrels as the spirit is a natural choice with the above ingredients. Careful, it clocks in at 9% ABV.
The product of 8 Wired, a New Zealand brewery that’s increasingly getting its stuff stateside, this beer shines. It boasts tropical notes and sour lemon peel flavors, along with the soothing cucumber element. All in all, it’s tremendously clean.
The aptly named Garden Party is as easy-drinking as they come, made with local cucumbers along with basil and juniper berries. Essentially a lighter version of the Imperial Coolcumber, this Kansas-born beer functions almost like a session version of a gin and tonic. Give it a good sniff or two as it’s one of the most aromatically compelling beers on the list.
Striking in the glass, this beer from Colorado’s Avery Brewing is barrel-aged and hit with bright red hibiscus. The result is a round beer worth savoring, showing red fruit, tea leaves, and grassy notes.
If you haven’t tried the work of Berkeley’s Fieldwork Brewing, change your ways. The California outfit is making some truly delicious brews and the Salted Cucumber is no exception. The incorporation of French sea salt gives it an ocean-fresh quality while the beer at large is a bit more wild and unruly, showing some delightful funk on the palate.
Sometimes, a name says it all. This beer from the fantastic team at Boulevard (try the Tank 7 if you haven’t already) belongs in your summer cooler. The mouthwatering beer has a nice acidic pop, tons of freshness, and a dialed-in allotment of cucumber flavor.
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