Is beer a go-to summer beverage, or a go-to year-round beverage? Even for those who feel beer has no off-season, summer can be the time for a change-up.
With hotter weather and more outdoor time, many beer drinkers want their summer beer to be more refreshing. Breweries large and small have responded to that by offering seasonal varieties that are lighter, brighter and evocative of the long, lazy days of summer.
Houston’s Karbach Brewing Company celebrates the summer of 2018 with Tasty Waves, a new fruit-accented beer brewed with passion fruit, sea salt and orange peel. “It’s like drinking a Dos Equis with the lime and salt already added in,” one beer aficionado said. Karbach’s brewmaster described it as “designed to pair with seasonal Gulf seafood, days at the beach and staycations,” and will be around for even less time than those other things, disappearing at the end of August.
Texas’ oldest craft brewery, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, has developed several varieties aimed at conquering the summer swelter. They describe their Fancy Lawnmower blend as “a world class brew yet light enough to be enjoyed by Texans after strenuous activities, like mowing the lawn.” Given that lawn care is a year-round activity in our climate, Lawnmower is available all year as well, but Saint Arnold’s Summer Pils is truly a seasonal beer, available only April through August.
Citrusy beer isn’t just a craft brewery niche: Budweiser recently introduced Bud Light Orange, made with enough orange peels to give the beer a vivid orange glow. Like the craft Brews, however, Bud Light Orange is slated as a summer refresher and scheduled to be in stores only until September.
Adding citrus fruit to beer isn’t new; the shandy, a combination of beer and lemonade, dates back to the 18th-century novel “Tristan Shandy.” While the lighter taste appeals to many drinkers, shandies are a popular brunch option, since the lower amount of alcohol per glass keeps them from overwhelming a long summer day of socializing.
While lemonade is the traditional mixer in a shandy, they can also be made with carbonated lemon-lime soda or flavored sparkling water. The combination is refreshing enough that in Germany, the drink is called a Radler, the German word for cyclist, because it’s a popular thirst-quencher after exercise.
Other acidic juices also pair well with beer. Tomato juice and beer can make either the Mexican-style michelada or a lower-alcohol Bloody Mary, in either the standard or spicy variety. While some beer-drinking stalwarts may flinch at the idea of pouring it over ice, it’s hard to argue with “ ice-cold” on a hot day.
Even the heavier beers can get a summer makeover. Stout ales such as Guinness are known for being complementary to chocolate, and chocolate ice cream is no exception. A stout ice cream float, blending dark beer and dark chocolate, creates a grownup version of a classic summer soda fountain treat.