It’s 100 degrees outside and already a nap sounds tempting. It would be wrong to waste such a beautiful day, but biking, paddling or even walking outdoors sounds grueling and unappealing. So, like everyone who needs encouragement to get up and get moving, you promise yourself a summer treat. Not a child’s sno-ball or sweet tea, but an ice cold beer.
Drinking beer in the summer has taken on a form of finesse. With the rise of so many beers and breweries, simply holding a can or bottle means you’re also labelling yourself. For the adventurous kind we tend to lean towards cans because they are more environmentally friendly and won’t break in our backpack or dry bag. For those who are more leisurely with their activities the options become almost limitless.
So, what are the beers for this summer? Keep it low in alcohol since the heat already is a burden. Make it crisp and refreshing, and yes, extremely cold. Do not waste your time sipping beers you hate no matter how cool the can looks.
Let’s not forget about the holy invention that is the mini-can. Of course, these beers are mainly from bigger breweries so tiny soldiers from Corona, Michelob Ultra and Coors Light will grace your cooler this season. Do not let anyone give you heat for this. If they do, they are merely informing you that they are inexperienced drinkers. Chances are they have not lasted hours on hot sandy beaches, mosquito-infested kayak trips, or simply living in the South.
I compiled a list of my favorite summer sippers, and then asked Lauren McCurdy, marketing manager for Good People Brewery in Birmingham, Alabama, to let us in on her seasonal specials. Below is a great starter package for summertime. (My sole recommendations are listed with **, while her input is in quotations.)
- Good People Bearded Lady (American wheat) and Good People Pale Ale— “Sorry had to get these out of the way.”
- ABV: 4.2%/5.8%
- Activity pairing: Festivals, BBQ contests, rock climbing
- Anchor Lager— “This is what made me love lagers. The can is super sharp-looking (the California flag), and the beer is so easy to drink that you don’t even realize that you’ve had the whole six pack.”
- ABV: 4.9%
- Activity pairing: Camping, BBQ, mountain biking
- Westbrook Gose— “This was my go-to when I first started working at [Good People Brewery]. No A/C in Alabama during the summer and a million people to pour beer for? You’re going to need something to satisfy your thirst, but maybe also get you buzzed after that crazy shift you just had!” (Writer’s note: this is also my go-to beer when I want something to sip on, but don’t want to feel like I’m gearing up for a Saturday crawfish boil.)
- ABV: 4%
- Activity pairing: Festivals, Sunday Funday
- Shiner Ruby Redbird— “Really refreshing and easy to drink with a nice kiss of ginger.”
- ABV: 4.01%
- Activity pairing: Crawfish boils, kayaking, running
- Sierra Nevada Otra Vez— “I may just really love goses, but Sierra Nevada really hit it out of the park with this one. There’s nothing overly salty/tart/cactusy/etc. about this beer, it’s just really well- balanced.” (Keep goses away from saltwater activities as they are already quite salty tasting.)
- ABV: 4.5%
- Activity pairing: Mountain biking, rock climbing, trail running
- Carton Boat Beer— “Shout-out to New Jersey! Grab some tall boys, get on the boat, and you’ve got a pretty perfect day in my mind.”
- ABV: 4.2%
- Activity pairing: Fishing, skiing, kiteboarding, sailing
- Bells Oberon— “My mom is not a huge beer drinker, but she LOVES Bells Oberon. It’s a beer that we can both enjoy.” (This is a beer anyone can find refreshing. Michigan takes on Canadian beer.)
- ABV: mixed
- Activity pairing: Camping, hiking, boating, canoeing
- Oskar Blues Pinner— “I actually got to try this for the first time at the Oskar facility in Brevard, North Carolina. I had a great experience there and this beer was definitely one of the highlights.”
- ABV: 4.9%
- Activity pairing: Kayaking, SUP (stand up paddling), biking, camping, hiking, just about anything
- **Big Wave Golden Ale—A great way to get the saltwater out of your mouth after water sports.
- ABV: 4.4%
- Activity pairing: SUP, surfing, beach day, hiking
- **Endless River: It is bright, crisp and everything you need in a summer beer. Drink it ice ice cold for ultimate refreshment.
- ABV: 5.0%
- Activity pairing: Any damn day
Now pack up the dry bag, backpack, overly expensive Yeti ice chest, and head out! Have you completed the “New Orleans 52” bike ride yet?