Everyone’s recommendations for summer beer styles are in, and they are… the same exact recommendations as last year and the year before that. Kolsch, lagers, hefeweizens, sours, and pilsners—these are the styles bandied around the Internet for best summer beers, and not without good reason.
However, if you’re searching for something beyond the basics, check out this list of summer beer styles destined to deliver warm weather vibes and wow-factor flavors!
1. Cold IPA
Let’s start with the word “cold”—an appealing concept on a hot summer day. The name “Cold IPA” refers to the fact that this ale is fermented at cooler temperatures than usual. Brought into the world by the creative minds at Wayfinder Beer in Portland, O.R., Cold IPAs showcase hops in an all new way. Incredibly hop-forward, this crisp style of IPA bursts with aromatic hops, boasts medium to high bitterness (without wrecking havoc on your palate), and ends each sip with a clean, dry finish. It has all the hop-heaviness of an IPA with the crushability of a lager.
2. Kriek Lambic
One of summer’s best fruits, the cherry, is the star of this beer style—in fact, the word “kriek” is Flemish for cherry. Traditionally, krieks are Belgian lambics (a wild ale) that have been brewed with ~a lot~ of cherries, pit and all. Krieks pour in the most beautiful and enticing shades of red that promise a burst of cherry tartness with each sip. Complex, dry, tart and crisp, Krieks are the ultimate sipping beer of summer.
3. Milkshake IPA
In honor of ice cream season, let’s talk milkshake IPAs. There’s no actual ice cream involved, rather this style of beer is a spin on one of craft beer’s favorite trends—the New England IPA. Milkshake IPAs have all the best qualities of an NEIPA—juicy, fruit-forward, full-bodied, smooth—with the creaminess of a milkshake! The addition of lactose (unfermentable milk sugar), lots of fruit, and adjuncts such as vanilla, create a velvety, flavorful, rich IPA that tastes as good—if not better than—an actual milkshake on a hot summer day.
4. Blood Orange Wheat Beer
Did you know a traditional Bavarian breakfast includes Weissbier (a.k.a. wheat beer)? That’s a tradition we can get behind, especially with a blood orange wheat beer! Most wheat beers have a hint of sweetness and citrus in addition to their predominant bready flavor. Blood orange is a perfect complement to the wheat beer flavor profile by introducing more citrus and a delightful tartness without overwhelming the inherent lightness of a wheat beer.
If you can’t find a blood orange wheat beer on tap or on the shelves, don’t hold back. Grab that blood orange whatever—IPA, pale ale, gose—or top off your favorite wheat beer with a splash of blood orange juice for a refreshing radler!
5. Smoked Beer
During the season of bonfires, charcoal grills, and BBQ smokers, enjoying a smoked beer every now and then just makes sense. With long-standing roots in Germany, smoked beers have been popping up more and more in North America over the past few years. Brewed with smoked malts, this beer comes in many different styles and intensities, from campfire porters to traditional Rauchbier (German smoked lager) to barrel-aged smoked red ale.
The trick to these beers is allowing yourself several sips to get past the initial shock of smoke, then try pairing your smoked beer with certain foods. It’s probably no surprise that smoked beer of any style pairs well with grilled or smoked meats, but also consider nibbling on some cheese, dried fruits, and nuts.
6. Coffee Blonde Ale
Ultra approachable, the light, crisp blonde ale is an easy summer crowd-pleaser that’s only made better with the smooth, roasty notes of coffee. Lacking noticeable malt and hop flavors, blonde ales are the perfect canvas for the variety of flavors coffee can add—chocolate, nuts, vanilla, caramel, and toffee. Save the heavy coffee stouts for cold winter evenings, and instead crack open a coffee blonde on those sunny summer afternoons.