Neil’s Mix-A-Six: Summer Beers

The calendar is past the 4th of July and into the heat of the summer, the sun is hot in the sky, and for most of America it is the season for cold, refreshing warm-weather beers (except in the brewing industry, where it is almost time to start releasing Fall seasonals!)

In this edition of Mix-A-Six, I’ll take you through a sampling of six outstanding easy drinking refreshers for summer. I’m not a beer snob – despite writing a beer column – so I’ll freely admit that your favorite fizzy yellow American lager is probably just as great a choice to drink in bulk, on ice, on a hot summer’s day.

But if you are looking to branch out and sample some great craft brews from around the good-old U. S. of A., these six should hit the spot. None of them exceed 6% alcohol by volume (in fact all but the Miami Weiss are below 5%) and as an added bonus for all of you beach and BBQ-goers, all of them come in cans. (Listed in order of how you should drink them…)

Photo: 21st Amendment Brewing

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon: A fruit beer that doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds with syrupy sweetness or dishsoap-invoking citrus, this super light 4.5% offering from California is a good early-in-the-day starter for beach-going and grass-cutting alike.

Photo: MIA Beer Co.

MIA Miami Weiss: Come for the can reminiscent of Don Johnson’s wardrobe and punny name, but stay for the easy drinking German hefeweizen that almost has no business coming from a brewery in South Florida. Just the right amount of bready malt, smooth backbone, and mild finish make this worthy of year round enjoyment. Light enough to pack for a concert tailgate but sophisticated enough for an alfresco dinner party.

Photo: Dogfishhead Brewery

Dogfishhead Namaste Wheat: An amazing wheat beer from Delaware’s transcendant craft brewery, Namaste is an ideal addition to a summer six pack. It’s shockingly low alcohol (4.8%) and low IBU for Dogfish so it works great on a hot afternoon. There is a lot of fruit flavor upfront and a smoothness on the backend, all combining for a nearly perfect representation of a Belgian witbier.

Photo: Founders Brewing

Founders All Day IPA: When you really want to enjoy a hoppy IPA but don’t want to be sweating and or passed-out after two, jump right to this offering from Michigan’s Founders Brewery. You won’t believe it is under 5% ABV when you taste the strong upfront hop bite but you’ll be ready for more when you realize how clean it finishes with almost no aftertaste. They sell it in a 15-pack, perfect number to stock in the cooler for a weekend camping trip. I love this year-round but it definitely fits the bill for summer drinking.

Photo: Brooklyn Brewery

Brooklyn Summer Ale: A “pre-prohibition” style ale from the New York outfit packs a decent bite of hops at the front that pairs awesome with some of summer’s best foods. I’m thinking specifically of fresh seafood, spicy salsas, and grilled meat. Don’t get me wrong, this is not an IPA and it’s not going to overwhelm you, but we are getting to the point in the sampling where all of the flavors are more pronounced and effective.

Photo: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Sierra Nevada Summerfest: You’re definitely getting more hops as well as more malt here than you got from the previous two ales, since we’re dealing with a fuller lager here. This one works best as the sun starts to set and maybe a cool breeze starts rolling off the bay…maybe even light the backyard firepit before you crack it open and let it warm you from the inside-out. But all that having been said, it’s still only 5% so absolutely nothing is going to overwhelm you, which is exactly what you want for a summer beer.

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