What does summer mean to you? Could it be cannonballing into the pool, splashing around in the waves on the beach, barbecuing in the backyard, putting your feet up and catching a game, or just lounging around and reading a book on the patio? However we choose to celebrate the hottest days of the year, you can bet that we have an American lagers in our hands. (Albeit, a craft one).
Because this beer style pairs with summer like hot dogs and baseball, like mustard and ketchup, like Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. You get the point.
According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, American lagers are “a very pale, highly carbonated, light-bodied, well-attenuated lager with a very neutral flavor profile and low bitterness. Served very cold, it can be a very refreshing and thirst-quenching drink.”
Light, crisp, smashable, crushable, refreshing, effervescent, and sessionable, American lagers and American light lagers embody all these words.
Yes, we recognize that Bud Light, Miller Lite, and their ilk fall under this category. Obviously, we’re not talking about your dad’s yellow fizzy water. Below you’ll find 100 percent highly crafted, medal-winning, innovative, well-made American lagers.
And the best part?
These American lagers showcase breweries from various backgrounds, geographies, and cultures.
From a beer in California representing the first African American brewery in the country to a back-to-back Great American Beer Festival (GABF) winner in the middle of Illinois to an Iranian-owned Brooklyn brewery, these are our favorite American lagers to drink on any summer weekend.
Hop Culture’s Picks for the 17 Best American Lagers to Drink on Summer Weekends
Peoples Beer – Oak Park Brewing Company
American Light Lager – I had the honor to drink this lager at a bottle share celebrating the creation of the National Black Brewers Association (NB2A), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the Black brewing community, increasing the number of African Americans in the beer industry, and fostering an understanding of the legacy of African American brewing the United States.
For instance, Theodore Mack Sr., the first African American to own and operate an American craft brewery. To honor this icon, Oak Park Brewing Co. in Sacramento, CA, brewed Peoples Beer, following the recipe from Peoples Brewing Co. in Oshkosh, WI.
Easy-drinking, but with heavy meaning, Peoples Beer stands for more than just the liquid in the can. Enjoy drinking this beer but also take the time to appreciate the history of everything that went into making it and how it can guide the future of the entire industry, just like the NB2A.
Persian Lager – Back Home Beer
American Lager – Zahra Tabatabai hasn’t been brewing long, but she’s already making waves in Brooklyn. The founder of Iranian Back Home Beer (and one of our “77 Women-Led Breweries to Support Right Now”), Tabatabai brings a unique background to craft, focusing on flavors and art from Iran and the Middle East.
Tabatabai, the daughter of Iranian immigrants whose grandfather homebrewed in Iran in the 1950s and ‘60s, started Back Home Beer to share the rich history of brewing in Iran. From the beginning, Tabatabai started homebrewing her grandfather’s old recipes. He used a lot of ingredients from his garden in Shiraz, Iran: sumac, salt, barberries, and dried limes.
Tabatabai’s Persian Lager has earned her top marks on Untappd’s top-ten all-time highest-rated American lagers list for its use of blue salt, a Persian ingredient from Semnan, Iran.
Tabatabai calls it an ode to her grandpa, who always added a pinch of salt to his beer. The perfect addition of salinity makes this American lager a tad savory yet imminently crushable.
Trust us, just try Persian Lager.
Lite Thinking – Pollyanna Brewing Company
American Lager – Winner of back-to-back awards at GABF—a gold in 2019 and bronze in 2020—Lite Thinking does all the thinking for you, so you don’t have to. Pollyanna from Lemont, IL, brews this American lager with six-row and two-row malted barley and Midwestern corn for an almighty, assertive malty base. Oh, and what the brewery calls “clear Land of Lincoln water” makes all the difference in this beer.
Beautifully luminous and transparent, Lite Thinking could be gulped, not sipped; it’s that smashable. As we said, not much thinking you need to do here—just drink Lite Thinking.
Tahoe American Lager – FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
American Lager – Two weeks ago, the World Beer Cup, one of the world’s most prestigious global beer competitions, announced its award winners at CBC in Nashville, TN. Winning gold in the “American-Style Lager” category was Tahoe American Lager from FiftyFifty Brewing Co. in Truckee, CA.
The third beer in the brewery’s Tahoe series, representing the region around Lake Tahoe, this classic American craft lager hits all the right notes.
Super light-bodied with a pleasant, effervescent, mild bitterness and predominance of corn and malt, this is the perfect beer to take with you boating on the lake, hiking on the trail, or camping in the woods.
We can see why this true-to-style American lager picked up gold from the “Olympics of Beer.”
Down South – Appalachian Mountain Brewery
American Light Lager – Well, if we showed you the gold-medal winner, why not the silver too? Down South placed second in the “American-Style Lager” category at WBC, earning top marks for a beer the brewery’s been making since they opened their doors ten years ago.
Clean, crisp, and crushable are the buzzwords here. Down South pours crystal clear with a nice head of foam and sips light and easy.
But you don’t have to take our word for it because it just won an award, after all.
Cole’s Light Lager – Wild Ride Brewing
American Light Lager – Rounding out the “American-Style Lager” category at WBC, Cole’s Light Lager from Wild Ride Brewing in Oregon nabbed bronze.
Fitting then that this is the beer’s Untappd description: “Whether you are celebrating a victory or mourning a loss, this American lager is fit for any occasion.”
Wild Ride uses Northwest two-row malted barley and hops to craft this American lager for ultimate drinkability. A summer sipper, Cole’s Light Lager will be great to drink, whether jumping in the pool, hanging out on the beach, or walking up on the most prominent global stage to accept an award.
House Lager – Forest & Main Brewing Company
American Lager – Breaking into Untappd’s top-ten all-time highest-rated American lager list, House Lager from Forest & Main Brewing Company in Ambler, PA, impresses with its German Pilsner malt base and the unique addition of Saphir and Saaz hops. To hold the name of “House Lager,” you know this beer needs to always be on point. A favorite of Forest & Main, House Lager lives up to its name, always crushing.
A strong biscuity background foils the more predominant hops with lemongrass and citrus notes.
Drink this beer and let it take you to a happier place.
Brooklet – The Drowned Lands Brewery
American Lager – The Drowned Lands calls this one an American lager, so we’re including it here, but it probably toes the line with a dry-hopped pilsner. The Drowned Lands uses premium German Pilsner malt, Hallertaur Mittelfruh, and Saphir hops.
Lagered for eight weeks before getting another dry-hop with Saphir, Brooklet presents with a decent amount of herbaceousness and a touch of light cracker to back it up.
Pouring a beautiful morning gold with a two-finger head of fluffy whitecaps, Brooklet is damn delicious.
And we’re not the only ones who think so—this is another top finisher on Untappd’s all-time highest-rated American lagers list.
Like a babbling brook right after the snow melts from winter into spring, Brooklet represents renewal, freshness, and tranquility.
Macroeconomics – Columbia Craft Brewing Company
American Light Lager – Picking up gold in the “Contemporary American-Style Lager” category at WBC, Macroeconomics drinks light and cool even in the hottest weather and under the most sizzling lights, obviously.
Starting with a base of six-row malt, flaked rice, and jasmine rice, Columbia Craft Brewing from Columbia, SC, elegantly showcases the prowess of Columbia Craft Head Brewer Shaun Piggot and his team of Cole Caccavaro and Roger Loughney.
Cool, calm, and collected, Macroeconomics belies an excessive amount of time and skill that goes into crafting this shining American light lager.
This beer will keep you alive even in the dog days of summer.
Blackberry Smoke American Lager – New Realm Brewing Company
American Lager – A contemporary spin on American lagers, Blackberry Smoke already picked up a gold at the Great American Beer Festival in 2022 before earning bronze at WBC.
What makes this a two-time medal-winning beer? Perhaps it’s New Realm’s use of Hallertau, Hersbrucker, and Lemondrop hops, a unique combination of fruity, spicy, floral, citrus, herbal, and even green tea, courtesy of that last hop.
“The beer has a clean, crisp, and refreshing taste with just enough character to provide a smokin’ great beer experience,” says Mitch Steele, co-founder and brewmaster of New Realm.
And yes, Southern rock legends Blackberry Smoke did, in fact, help make this beer.
So there’s that too!
Legend upon legend helped make this legendary beer. Enough said.
Baseball Lager – Highland Park Brewery
Los Angeles, CA
But the one that’s caught our eye lately has American lager written all over it—Baseball Lager.
Obviously, because of its nod to the classic American sport (which, if you haven’t already, you need to check out our “Best Brewery Near Every MLB Baseball Stadium”).
But it’s the quintessential nod. The beer is like the third base coach waving the runner from second all the way home, beating the throw after Mookie Betts hits a double.
Baseball lager is just the perfect crrruusshhaabble American lager—like blow-the-laces-off-a-ball crushable.
So whether you’re watching baseball, Formula 1 racing, the PGA golf tour (yes, we’ve been watching all the sports docs on Netflix lately), or even pickleball, make sure you have a Baseball lager can in your hand.
Stokes Light – Boss Rambler Beer Club
American Light Lager – We’ve said it before, but we’ll repeat it: Beer is liquid art inside and outside the can. A recent winner of one of “The Best Looking Beer Cans in 2022,” Stokes Light harkens back to the Marlboro Light packs of yore. We don’t know much about cigarettes, but we know a bit about the nostalgic culture. As soon as Hop Culture Managing Editor Grace Weitz pulled this tallboy (which also comes in 12oz cans) out of the package, her wife recognized the design, an effort from Boss Rambler founder Matt Molletta and designer Dusten Ryen to riff off a retro classic.
All makes sense as soon as you crack the tab on this American light lager. A homage to the “fizzy, yellow stuff your dad drank,” Stokes Light has bones and brings them back to life.
A current of corn, cracker, and cereal zip through, finishing crisp and clean as a good lager should. It’s the carbonation that kills it, bringing vibrancy to this style. While we know there isn’t any nicotine in Stokes Light, we will be jonesing for a hit of this beer all spring long.
Hank – Protagonist Beer
American Light Lager – A beer that tastes like beer that tastes like beer—that’s Hank. Protagonist’s version of American light lager has craft written all over it—brewed with local Epiphany Craft Malt. But at the end of the day, it does what an American light lager does best—taste like beer.
And that’s all you need to know about Hank.
Broken Skull American Lager – El Segundo Brewing Company
El Segundo, CA
American Lager – A collaboration with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Broken Skull American Lager ferments (stone) cold! El Segundo’s Untappd description for this beer perfectly sums everything up: “This beer is the ultimate reward for a hard day’s work. Brewed with the best American-grown barley and hops, Broken Skull American Lager goes down as easy as a three-day weekend. Cheers to those who are out there earning it.”
Base Lager – Tactical Brewing Co.
American Lager – We already named Tactical Brewing’s Click Click Bloom gose to the “37 Best Beers to Drink in Spring 2023” for its umami addition of mushrooms—unusual in a beer. But if you’re looking for a go-to beer to keep returning to again and again…kind of like a home base…Base Lager is your beer.
Nabbing 2023 Best of Florida Gold, 2022 New York International Beer Competition Bronze, and 2019 Best of Florida Gold, Base Lager turns heads and tongues.
Big ups to Tactical for sending one to us this year. Bubbly on the tongue and smooth in the gullet, Base Lager drinks like a day at the beach—laidback, languid, and leisurely.
Ska Lager – Ska Brewing
American Lager – Freshly off the line and newly introduced in March, Ska Lager joins the Durango-based brewery’s year-round canned lineup. Playing off the brewery’s OG Mexican Logger, which first came out in 1999, Ska Lager “is a no-nonsense, snappy, crisp, bright, easy-drinking lager with the gentlest floral aroma lent from its addition of Tettnang and Bravo hops,” according to Ska Brewing.
We did a little taste test ourselves, and we can confidently report back that this American lager has zero frills and full flavor. Ska Lager is the kind of bottom-fermenting beer that does exactly what you want it to, keeping it flavor-packed yet light at 4.8% ABV so you can crush, crush, crush these cans all summer long.