Seasonal Suds

Eight beer samplers lined up on a table

By Brant Myers

I live by the adage that any weather is beer weather. Cold and dark winter months pair just as nicely with a rich porter as do the warm, long days of summer with a refreshing pilsener. You appreciate beer in the winter because there is little to do. Now that it’s summer we celebrate with nearly too much to do. So now that Independence Day has come and passed, I want to tell you about some of my favorite warm-weather styles to enjoy on beaches and lawns alike.

For the hottest of days there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a bohemian or Czech-style pilsner—but wait, Brant, you spelled it two different ways, which is it? Well, they’re both right. Coming from the Czech city of Plzeň, the anglicized version calls it pilsner while the Germans popularized the style and their name for Plzeň was Pilsener. The Americans drank it in spades so we call it pilsner and now we’re all a little smarter and a whole lot more confused. Back to the story—this light, effervescent beer has a lot of flavor in a very quaffable package. Slightly sweet from the prominent use of malt, but with just enough hops added to give it a much needed bittering bite. If Firestone’s DBA, an English bitter, is a loaf of wheat bread resplendent in biscuit and caramel notes, then a beer like Central Coast Brewing’s Bo Pils is a freshly-baked sourdough roll. Incredibly drinkable and yet immensely enjoyable, the pilsner-style makes it difficult to keep in your glass.

While you can mix a lager with lemonade and make a radler, yet another summer-time favorite, I’m more of a purist and like to derive those bright acidic flavors from the brewers directly. Barrelhouse Brewing rolled out their Key Lager just in time for the June heat wave. This lager uses key limes and select hops to impart the flavors we’ve all had from a certain Mexican beer with a lime wedge stuck in the mouth of the bottle, all without the guilt of consuming a mass brand. Tap It also rolled out a fruit-laden beer with their Mango Tiger, an unfiltered imperial IPA brewed with mango puree. A classic combo, we always recommend drinking fresh and enjoying those amazing esters of peach and pineapple directly from the tap.

Libertine continues their tradition of using fruit in beers to bring those tart flavors to your lips. They’ve been rolling out new beers faster than I can keep up, but you’ll always find something unique. Keep an eye out for a perennial favorite, Summer Breeze. Every year they add fresh ingredients from Cambria’s Stepladder Ranch and this time you can find peaches and raspberries invading your senses and making you pucker. Take two more sips and now you’re enjoying summer in a glass. Want more fruit from the heart of wine country? Check out their liberal use of Riesling grapes from our neighbors at Claiborne & Churchill in Libertine’s Rhine Me Up. Aged on French oak this brew bridges the gap between wine and beer leaving you wondering exactly which barrel room you’re in.

Whether you like it crisp, hoppy, sweet, or weird there’s a plethora of options when it comes to warm weather drinking. So remember to apply liberal amounts of sunscreen, keep your barbecue grill clean, and put plenty of ice in the cooler because our local breweries are adding some liquid gold to your sunny days.