Warm weather calls for a beer with impactful flavor and a light, refreshing finish. While there’s a plethora of brew styles out there, some are a little more enjoyable when the sun is beating down relentlessly. Most of these styles originated in Europe, with their drinkers having the foresight to brew a beverage to enjoy after a long work day. These are our top style choices to enjoy while grilling, mowing or relaxing in the sun, with some of our favorite local interpretations.
Traditionally brewed in farmhouses during the winter to enjoy during the warm months, Saisons are a go-to when the sun is out. Farm workers would enjoy these pale ales after a long, sweaty day in the fields. The beer’s light body and flavor make it a refreshing choice, especially when spices such as orange zest or coriander are added. Some great Pennsylvania saisons to try can be found at Tired Hands, Yards and Lavery.
Witbier, or white beer, is traditionally brewed in Belgium and gets its name from the suspended yeast and wheat proteins that cause its cloudy appearance. These beers—which are brewed with mostly wheat in the malt bill—are traditionally spiced with orange and coriander, while the Belgian yeast adds notes of pepper and clove. In Pennsylvania, look for St. Benjamin’s Wit or Witout or Voodoo’s Magick of the Sun.
A gose is a sour wheat ale, which contains varying puckering and briny notes from addition of lactobacillus and sea salt. Originally brewed in Goslar, Germany, these ales can also be mixed with syrup to cut some of the sourness from the lactic acid. Locally, look for goses such as Victory’s Kirsch Gose and Manayunk’s Belly Flop.
Hefeweizens are a wheat beer with a heavier body and higher ABV, making them perfect for cool summer nights. These beers get most of their flavor from the use of wheat and specialized yeast, which adds conservative notes of banana and spice. On local shelves, reach for Ship Bottom’s Beach Patrol or Penn Weizen. If you’re in Pittsburgh, be sure to stop by Hofbräuhaus for a traditional pint.
Lagers are fermented at a low temperature with a specific yeast and conditioned at cold temperatures. The malt bill will drive the beer’s subtle bready flavor, while the yeast will continue to work as the beer sits at cool temperatures in the brewery. Noble hops and darker malts can cause more pronounced flavors, while regional variations such as the Czech Pilsners and Helles Lagers have become popularized over the years. Locally, look for Dock Street’s Bohemian Pilsner or Sly Fox’s Helles Lager.
6. Session IPA
Packed with hop flavor with a manageable ABV, a Session IPA is a go-to for the American craft beer drinker. With a modest grain bill, possibly consisting of some wheat, these beers will then undergo hop additions in the boil and fermenter to impart notes of citrus and pine. In Pennsylvania, look for 2SP’s ASAP IPA or Rivertowne’s Jah Mon.
A Kölsch is truly a beer brewed in Cologne, Germany, but many American brewers have replicated the style. These beers are brewed with mostly pilsner malt, top fermented, and then lagered at cold temperatures. Noble hops add flavor, while the beer remains crisp and refreshing overall. Search out Free Will’s Community Kölsch for a traditional take on the style, or St. Benjamin’s Junto for a modern spin, seasoned with ReAnimator Coffee.
What local summer favorites did we miss? Let us know!
The Brewers of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit trade association that brings together leaders of Pennsylvania-based breweries in order to promote and protect the brewing industry in the state. Established in 2011, the Brewers of Pennsylvania serves the consuming public of Pennsylvania by encouraging brand diversity in the market. We believe in the nobility of brewing and hold dear the great traditions and history of Pennsylvania brewing.