Summer is here, which means it's time for summer beer — crisp hefeweizens, bright blond ales and refreshing lagers. Right? Well, only if you want to drink what you did last summer.
Nothing against the wheat beers of the world, but this summer, we're not giving up massive flavor. While we are sticking with reasonably lighter-bodied beers — because who wants to be weighed down by a barrel-aged stout or imperial India pale ale in the teeth of the heat? — we're also going bold.
Here are three styles that will keep us satiated all summer long by not weighing us down, but packing a flavorful punch.
Belgian IPA: Yes, we denigrated imperial IPAs as a summer beer a mere two paragraphs ago. But this increasingly popular style cleans up the weightiness of the hops and adds a thirst-quenching brightness with the yeasty Belgian character. Several breweries have taken a stab at this style, but my favorite so far is Great Divide Brewing's Belgica. Many Belgian IPAs don't have the guts to truly split the difference between being a traditional Belgian and an IPA. Belgica does it.
Black lager: A beer you can't see through in the middle of the summer? When it is a black lager, you bet. Many breweries save their black lagers for a winter seasonal, but a few have caught on that these make fine year-round beers. Port Brewing's Midnight Sessions Lager has a brilliantly medium-weight body, but dark, toasty, tobacco-like character. Would go great with some fresh-from-the-grill barbecue while retaining a reasonable lightness.
Sour beer: A wood-aged sour beer might not sound so refreshing, but New Belgium's Eric's Ale is just that. This pleasantly tart ale offers hints of summer from the added-in peach juice. Drinkable, tasty, and on a warm day, refreshing.