Recently, we celebrated the longest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. With close to fifteen hours of sun in most parts of the United States and countries around the world above the equator, we’re reminded now more than ever that summer shines bright.
Typically, from June to August we do our best to take advantage of the bright, warm weather by flocking to pool parties, jetting off on beach vacations, and picnicking in the park.
Beerwise summer calls for super light, crisp, and clean styles, especially since we’ve seen temperatures climb into the high 90s in certain parts of the country. We’re talking about fruited sours, American wild ales and pale lagers, German pilsners or helles, and Belgian styles like lambics and pale ales.
But just because we’re enjoying the light doesn’t mean we need to forsake the dark. For example, schwarzbier, aka German dark lagers, have the word dark in the name, but are actually the perfect cool, slightly roasty lager for the summer.
Of course, we’ve dropped an IPA or two onto this list. But for the most part we’ve actually shifted our focus away from the uber hoppy here. When you do see an IPA below, it’s incredibly intentional.
For instance, a milkshake IPA, which combines everything we love about an IPA with a sour. Sounds crazy, we know. But it’s almost like the perfect hoppy, tart beer.
Or a Cold IPA, a new IPA phenomenon sweeping across the country like a…cold front (?).
We equate summer with easy, breezy, vacationland. Consider each one of these beers a moment to reflect, take a deep breath, and start to prepare ourselves for the longer, darker days ahead.
But not just yet!
A Quick Note
As always, this list includes a mix of local brewery launches as well as some more widely accessible beverages. As a friendly reminder: Our guide to the best summer beers should merely serve as a blueprint. If you can’t find a specific beer we include, ask your local brewery if they have something similar.
The beers are presented below in alphabetical order by brewery.
Our Favorite Beers for the Summer of 2022
Beyond the Binary
Almanac Beer Co. — Alameda, CA
Schwarzbier — Literally a German word that translates to black lager, schwarzbier is reminiscent of a German-style dunkel, but drier, darker, roastier, and lighter. It’s a style that has a rich history in Germany but only recently started to pop up in the United States.
Considered a beer of the people, German farmers originally brewed schwarzbier using cultivated grains such as barley, wheat, oats, and rye perfect for beer. Hence why schwarzbiers are literally considered black lagers; the dark grain gave this beer style not only its color, but also its roasty, dry qualities.
So it makes sense that Almanac chose this German-style dark lager to represent Beyond The Binary, a beer brewed by trans and gender-nonconforming beer professionals. With the goal to support the National Center For Transgender Equality, Beyond The Binary does make a great beer for summer in style, but even more importantly, this schwarzbier represents equality for all at a time when freedoms for some in this country are being continually threatened.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2022, about 300 anti-trans bills have been proposed across thirty-six states, a record-setting pace.
Drinking Beyond The Binary gave us an opportunity to enjoy a great warm weather beer, but also to remind ourselves that we have more work to do to make our industry (and country) more diverse and inclusive.
Beer Tree Brew — Port Crane, NY
Fruited Sour — A fruited sour packed with strawberry, coconut, pineapple, and vanilla, Trippy Tropics just took me to a happy, magical place. One where I could hear the waves lapping against the sand and feel the sun shining down on my face.
On a broader note, we met Beer Tree’s marketing manager, Abigail Roe, who identifies as Queer, at Hop Culture’s fifth annual women in craft beer festival Beers With(out) Beards. We were impressed when Abigail told us how Beer Tree has been supporting the Queer community in their tiny town of Port Crane, NY. Consequently, we named Beer Tree one of our “47 Queer-Led and Queer-Supporting Breweries to Champion Right Now.” Plus, we were beyond excited that Beer Tree joined us for our second annual Queer Beer in Washington, D.C., this past June.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, a consensus favorite of our fest goers (plus yours truly) was Trippy Tropics.
To sum it up: Trippy Tropics was pure bliss. And that’s exactly the state of mind we’re all trying to reach during the summer.
Charles Towne Fermentory – Charleston, SC x Resident Culture Brewing Company — Charlotte, NC
American IPA — When one of our favorite breweries in all of South Carolina teams up with one of our favorite breweries in Charlotte, NC, we pay attention. And when those two breweries make an American IPA with a cool new hop process called SPECTRUM®…well, you can bet we are all ears (and eyes).
Flying Blind from Charles Towne Fermentory and Resident Culture showcases Motueka and Citra SPECTRUM®, a revolutionary liquid hop product that mimics dry-hopping. Like we said, if we’re including an IPA on this list it’s for a great reason. We’re always on the hunt for hot hop trends and, while we’ve only just been introduced to SPECTRUM®, you can bet that we’ll be keeping an eye on this one and writing about it soon.
That is to say, stay tuned.
In the meantime, I suppose we’ll just have to drink in the innovation such as with Flying Blind.
Dewey Beer Company — Dewey Beach, DE
Fruit Smoothie Beer — Lazy summer evenings sitting on the porch swing swaying back and forth with a tall ice cold glass of lemonade. Neighborhood kids setting up makeshift tables on the corner of their street to sell fresh squeezed lemonade for .50 cents a pop. No matter how you slice it, lemonade may be the unofficial non-alcoholic drink of summer. Subsequently, when someone finds a way to successfully translate that iconic flavor into a beer, we notice.
Dewey’s Pink Lemonade takes freshly squeezed lemons and conditions them on passion fruit for the perfect summer sipper. Firstly, the beer pours out a fantastic ruby pink. But, more than that, this refreshing thirst-quencher just tickles our tongue in all the right places.
Dewey’s Pink Lemonade is nostalgia in a glass.
TO THE MILKY WAY & BACK IV – PEACH, CLEMENTINE, RASPBERRY, LIME, VANILLA
Evil Twin Brewing — Ridgewood, NY
Milkshake IPA — What exactly is a milkshake IPA? Well, let us be the first to tell you.
Perhaps the most intriguing variant of the hazy IPA, the milkshake IPA combines lactose (unfermentable milk sugar) and fruit for a thick, indulgent beer unlike any other.
As a result, these beers take on a smooth, delightful mouthfeel, similar to the sensation you’d expect in a milk stout.
Moreover, many brewers build that silky, creamy texture by adding fruit. The addition of fruit can also inject tartness, tropical flavor, or candied sweetness into a beer. Plus, it makes this style perfect for summer.
For example, at Evil Twin in New York.
Evil Twin has always been known for innovation, often pairing whimsical ingredients into hitherto-unforeseen flavor combinations. The New York-based brewery’s milkshake IPA series, TO THE MILKY WAY & BACK, doesn’t disappoint with huge blasts of various fruits that blast your tastebuds off to space.
This version includes peach, clementine, raspberry, lime, and vanilla for a jammy, juicy, jazzy milkshake IPA sure to quench your thirst during all the warmer months.
Fair Isle Brewing — Seattle, WA
Belgian Brown Ale — Let’s face it, Belgians just knew how to honor the summer. I mean they started brewing saisons and farmhouse ales in the winter for gosh sakes, storing them until they were ready during the hot summer months, when laborers would drink them throughout the day as they tended the crops.
Often referred to as saisonniers in French, these farmhands drank beer for the people. We’re not talking about expensive ingredients and crazy adjuncts here. Local town folk made these beers with whatever they had on hand, often crops leftover from the previous year.
These are simple beers reminding us of simpler times. Even their brown ales are super crisp and clean for gosh sakes.
For instance, Fair Isle’s Lou Graham, an ambreé ale aged in PK Sherry casts from Westland Distillery. Although to be fair the Seattle-based brewery in its classic style does take this beer a step above. Fermented with their own house blend of wild, feral yeasts and bacteria, the Belgian brown ale also gets an infusion of ingredients used by Fast Penny Spirits in their American amaro such as: orange peel, bay leaves, marjoram and sage.
Okay, so this beer isn’t simple at all, but it is damn delicious.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company — Paso Robles, CA
Imperial/Double IPA — We don’t choose beers for their name alone, but we must admit Firestone Walker really nailed it with this one. Anyone else getting flashes of those old-school Jersey Shore-style boardwalk arcades? A product of the Propagator, Firestone Walker’s experimental brewing playground in Venice, CA, Psychedelic Arcade features a pilsner malt base to keep things dry and light on the palate with a touch of rye for structure. Plus, a bevy of Galaxy, Strata, Simcoe, Mosaic, and Idaho 7 hops hit the jackpot on this West Coast IPA. Expect big aromas of tropical fruit, blueberry, and grapefruit.
Block Print: Strawberry + Vanilla
Foam Brewers — Burlington, VT
Fruited Sour — It’s hard to ignore the iconic picnic vibes of Foam’s fruited lactose sour series. Typically released during the warmer months, Foam’s sour ale variations riff off that peckish summer pastime. Block Print: Strawberry + Vanilla seems to draw inspiration from strawberry pies cooling on window sills or strawberry shortcake desserts resting in wicker baskets. Conditioned on a mound of strawberries and vanilla beans, this Block Print variant indulges our childhood memories of time spent in parks, but with an adult spin.
Gym Shoe Weather
Funkytown Brewery — Chicago, IL
Belgian Pale Ale — A style known as both approachable and sessionable, Belgian pale ales represent a lighter type of Belgian beer with drinkability and a more muted, yeast-driven flavor profile. These beers prioritize balance. Tipping the scales slightly toward the more malty end of the spectrum, Belgian pale ales simultaneously express a firm, if understated, hop finish. Soft, creamy, not too sweet or too dry, easy to drink but also subtly complex, Belgian pale ale is a highly approachable style.
Gym Shoe Weather from BIPOC-owned Funkytown Brewery in Chicago, IL, is a direct shout out to the incredible Chicago summers. As someone who spent six years surviving this city’s indescribable winters (and 20 more before that in Minnesota), I can tell you wholeheartedly that when summer rolls around in the Windy City, folks go crazy for the temperate weather.
Everyone emerges from hibernation to lounge on the beach, walk along the lakeshore, chill at a street fair, or hang in the back yard…as much as humanly possible. Because in a mere few months you’ll be thrust back into the throes of winter.
Gym Shoe Weather elegantly captures that frenzy, kicking in at 5.2% ABV for a pleasantly perfect pale replete with a bit of candied stone fruit and peppery kick. Or as the brewery puts it in their Untappd description, “a perfect, medium-bodied day-drinker that any #sneakerhead will love.”
Grimm Artisanal Ales — Brooklyn, NY
Fruit Lambic — Summer means celebration. Sometimes that’s celebration from hibernation. Sometimes that celebration of freedom such as on Juneteenth. And sometimes that’s just the celebration of an anniversary.
Accordingly, Grimm Artisanal Ales in Brooklyn, NY, recently celebrated the fourth anniversary of its official taproom (the brewery had been gypsy brewing since 2013, but finally nailed down a brick and mortar to call its own in 2018).
Grimm went all out with a lineup of spontaneously fermented ales. One of the most romantic processes in the beer brewing world, spontaneous fermentation includes leaving wort outside to ferment with natural microflora. Whereas traditionally fermented beers have predictable traits from specific yeast strains, spontaneously fermented beers take on the characteristics of their surroundings. This makes them wildly unpredictable. In other words, letting go of that traditional control creates “wild ales.”
For example, Wimmelbilder 2, a fruit lambic inspired by the wild, playful paintings of Flemish artists. Raspberries, apricots, kumquats, and orange blossoms leave broad brush strokes on the beer’s canvas for a tantalizing ruby red tincture. The perfumatic orange blossom will hit your nose first while the brazen berries and conniving citrus creep up your tongue on the first sip.
Since this is a wildly fermented beer, you’ll be hit with a tang of funk in the back too. This is one of those fireworks beers; it just keeps popping with bright colors, loud noises, and exciting moments. Stick around for the grand finale here. Above all, it’s completely worth it.
Halfway Crooks Beer — Atlanta, GA
German Pilsner — If we could drink one beer style all summer long it would be a pilsner, whether German, American, Czech, or even Italian. In this instance, Halfway Crooks nails the nuances of German noble hops in a pilsner that’s equal parts earthy, woody, and almost syrupy. You definitely get hit by huge herbal whiffs up front followed by that lingering, slightly spicy noble hop presence. A candy-like honey hovers around the final sip, immediately slaking your thirst and yet activating your salivary glands for more.
The third installment of Halfway Crooks binary-named German-style pilsners (Zero One and One Zero being the first two), we can probably expect to see more iterations of this fantastic beer soon.
Hoof Hearted Brewing — Marengo, OH
Dry Hopped German Pilsner — Speaking of pilsners, Hoof Hearted’s version includes 100 percent Ohio-grown Pilsner malt chilling in a Florida Room with Huell Melon hops. Curious about this particular hop? And hey, we’re not even talking about an IPA. Huell Melon is a new German hop that, amazingly, has hints of melon. The morning gourd notes actually play really well in a pilsner, balancing that blunt minerality with a soft sweetness.
Again, pilsners are dog-day, vacation, picnic crushers, so you can’t go wrong with sipping on one during the summer.
2021 Blanc du Bois
Jester King Brewery — Austin, TX
Wine — Yes, this is for real. We’re actually suggesting a wine in the 20 Best Beers to Drink in Summer 2022. But c’mon, Jester King made it, so you know this is some serious business. Moreover, this wine actually takes inspiration from an American wild ale from Jester King called Bière de Blanc du Bois wildly fermented in the Texas Hill Country and refermented with Texas-grown Blanc du Bois grapes.
For the wine, Jester King took last year’s Texas grape harvest of Blanc du Bois grapes grown in Sulphur Bluff near Dallas and fermented them on their own skins to create an orange wine.
In that same vein, Jester King included their own mixed culture used in their farmhouse beer during fermentation.
After pressing, the wine aged in oak barrels for five months, creating a beverage that’s incredibly fruity, but also a bit funky and oaky.
Jester King has been making wine since 2020, but 2021 Blanc du Bois was the first bottle from their 2021 grape harvest. It’s truly exquisite and we’re excited to see what else comes out of Jester King’s vineyard in the future.
Water Tiger Cold IPA
Lucky Envelope Brewing — Seattle, WA x Highland Brewing — Asheville, NC
Cold IPA — To be fair, this beer actually debuted during the Chinese new year back at the beginning of the year. But we feel that it’s perfect for the summer. This has been a hot year for hops. Who are we kidding? Hops have been hot for decades now. This year in particular, we’ve already covered “The 5 Hottest Hops of 2022, According to an Expert” and “The Four Hottest Hop Trends.” So maybe it’s time to cool things down. One of the newer trends in the hop-forward IPA category is Cold IPAs.
First pioneered by Wayfinder Beer in Portland, OR, Cold IPAs have popped up in the portfolios of revered breweries all across the country. For instance, WeldWerks, Necromancer, Reuben’s Brews, Alvarado Street, Great Notion, and so many more.
AAPI-owned Lucky Envelope in Seattle, WA, has been collabing with AAPI-owned Highland Brewing in Asheville, NC, for the Chinese new year for the past several years. Each beer celebrates the Zodiac sign of that particular year.
Water Tiger Cold IPA leverages El Dorado hops and Seattle’s Marketspice Berry Bush tea for a unique take on this new IPA brewing technique.
Notes of juicy red berries and honey chill next to lemongrass for a crisp, refreshing beer that’s indicative of summer.
Jubilee Red Ale Brewed With Hibiscus
Montclair Brewery — Montclair, NJ
Red Ale — Montclair brewed Jubilee to celebrate Juneteenth (also known as Jubilee Day), the now-federal holiday that recognizes the day in our country’s history when a group of enslaved people in Galveston, TX, learned they had been freed from slavery…two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
A red wheat ale with hibiscus flowers, Jubilee gets a unique floral sweetness from the flowering plant most likely native to West Africa, East Africa, Southeast Asia, or Northeastern India. Montclair adds a hint of lactose here too to create a smooth, thirst-quenching summer ale. One that represents freedom for all.
Prison Pals Brewing Co — Doral, FL
Fruited Sour — Prison Pals is South Florida’s hottest new brewery. And that’s saying a lot, considering South Florida has become a fiery hot spot for phenomenal craft beer.
Started by four guys from Argentina, Prison Pals has made a name for itself by producing sensational jam-packed fruited smoothie sours, hoppy hazy IPAs, and lights-out lagers. And in a state where the sun shines enough to give it a nickname, Florida seems to be the perfect landing spot for a brewery looking to break free.
We’ve had the pleasure to try a bunch of Prison Pals beers, and we have to say that the smoothie sours surprise and delight every time. Perhaps our favorite so far though has been Aloha. Bringing a bright acidity with pineapple complimented by a cooling mint and slightly spicy ginger kick, Aloha whisked us away to white sandy beaches with rollicking ocean waves.
Does anything we just wrote seem incongruous with summer? Hell nah. And that’s why we love Prison Pals for this season. That is to say, these sours just shine through like the rays of the sun on the longest day of the year…every day of the year.
The summer solstice never ends at Prison Pals.
Trillium Brewing Company — Canton, MA x Fox Farm Brewery — Salem, CT
Pale Lager — Okay, spicy take from the Hop Culture crew. We’re predicting that pale lagers and pale ales are going to make a huge comeback in 2023. You heard it here first. Let’s just look at the anecdotal evidence: Find a brewery worth its salt in IPAs and take a gander at their taplist. We bet you’ll also find a pale ale or pale lager. Brewers that enjoy putting out top-notch IPAs have also started quietly almost surreptitiously putting out a pale lager or pale ale.
With Thresh, one of New England’s IPA stalwarts joined forces with one of Connecticut’s best bucolic breweries.
Together, you get a beer brewed with a sense of place. Using Pilsner malt from Valley Malt in Hadley, MA, and Thrall Family Malt in Windsor, CT, Thresh immediately gives off bread bakery vibes. In fact, sipping this beer is almost like knocking on the sturdy crust of a well-baked boule. Baked dough greets your nostrils while on the sip you get a snap of sourdough-esque bitterness.
A hint of citrus zest in the finish is what ultimately peaks our interest here in summer. That light bite of orange or apricot jam is the best compliment to the biscuity base.
Drinking this beer invokes visions of fields of golden grain waving in the wind and bucolic farms filled with rolling hills, pastures, and meadows.
In conclusion, we’ll sign up for that any summer day.
TrimTab Brewing Co. — Birmingham, AL
Imperial / Double New England / Hazy IPA — Who else is glad winter is officially over? 🙋 With warmer weather here, we still want our beers ice cold. TrimTab’s Frozen Lands will never go out of season and can guarantee that refreshing taste we’re looking for. Cold double dry-hopped with Cryo Sabro and Citra hops, this double IPA slams into us like a cannonball into a pool, like a sprinkler at three in the morning, like a wave in the ocean, like a cool blast from the air conditioner, like a…you get the idea.
Von Ebert Brewing — Portland, OR
Helles — We could not end this list with a simpler beer that’s harder to brew. This helles represents a Bavarian beer style that appears simple but belies complexity. But we don’t need to go into that here. All you need to know is that Von Ebert’s Decocted Helles reminds us of the following words: fresh bread, crackers, herbaceous, floral, quaffable. Simple summer perfection. Pour out a fresh one of these on the porch. After that, watch the sunset and you have summer sipping at its best. It’s nice to feel good.