Thanks to this wonderful gift of sun and humidity, we're hot right now. Really hot. So hot that we've swapped our t-shirts for beer, in fact. Since the shirts are off and the beers are in hand, we thought we'd throw together a list of 5 craft beer styles that pair perfectly with heat and sun. Put these on your to-drink list for the summer!
American Pale Lager
Sometimes referred to as "all-malt," this category of beer refers to lagers brewed without cereal adjuncts (mainly rice or corn). Though often still yellow and fizzy, these beers will display a broader depth of malt flavor and a more complex bitterness vs. their adjunct counterparts (like those produced by Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, etc.). A lot of these beers are known as "gateway" beers for their ability to convert people into craft beer drinkers!
Spawned from the American light lager style, cream ales are brewed as an ale (using top-fermenting ale yeast) but are often cold-conditioned like a lager. Adjuncts (as would be used in a lager) such as corn or rice are used to lighten the body. It is not uncommon for smaller craft brewers to brew all malt Cream Ales. They are often pale straw to pale gold in color with low hop bittering and some hop aroma though some microbreweries have given the style more of a hop character. They should be well attenuated and highly carbonated.
These beers range within the pale to golden range in color and are reminiscent of a Hefe Weizen in appearance, unless filtered. They typically have a long-lasting head with a light to medium body with higher carbonation. Often served with a lemon wedge (popularized by Americans) to either cut the wheat or yeast edge, which many either find to be a flavorful snap ... or an insult and something that damages the beer's taste and head retention!
Examples: Bell's Oberon, Magic Hat Circus Boy, Smuttynose Summer Weizen
Fruit beers can include a wide range of styles and brewing processes, from American wheat beers with fruit additions to Fruit Lambics. In the case of Fruit Lambics, whole fruits are traditionally added after spontaneous fermentation has started. Kriek (cherries), Frambroise (raspberries), Pêche (peach) and Cassis (black currant) are common fruits, all producing subtle to intense fruit characters respectively. Once the fruit is added, the beer is subjected to additional maturation before bottling. Malt and hop characters are generally low to allow the fruit to consume the palate. Alcohol content tends to be low.
Saison (French for season) is a farmhouse ale that was traditionally brewed in the winter, to be consumed throughout the summer months. Not long ago it was close to being an endangered style, but over recent years there's been a massive revival; especially in the United States.
This is a very complex style; many examples are very fruity in the aroma and flavor. Look for earthy yeast tones, mild to moderate tartness. Lots of spice and with a medium bitterness. They tend to be semi-dry with many only having touch of sweetness.