A midsummer’s night dream selection: We won’t be talking about anything remotely heavy, boozy, or warming. This edition is all about summer refreshment.
5.4% ABV | You can probably guess by the name that this is Cleveland-based Grate Lakes Brewing Co.’s interpretation of Mexican-style lagers, which seem to be all the rage among American craft brewers. But this one has a bit of a twist: In addition to all of the cool, easy-drinking qualities inherent in the style, Great Lakes adds some hibiscus to amp up the floral elements.
4.7% ABV | Here’s the first of four brews from a state that knows a thing or two about warm weather relaxing. Motorworks Brewing of Brandenton, Florida, has created a Vienna-style lager that’s everything a Vienna should be: bready, mildly toasty malts, a copper hue, and some subtle hop bitterness to balance the grain. There’s even a hint of nuttiness for good measure.
4.7% ABV | St. Petersburg, Florida’s Green Bench Brewing offers the perfect palate reset with this pils that’s a sort of a bitter bell curve. The bitterness starts small, spikes suddenly, and then gradually drifts to make way for pure refreshment.
5% ABV | We take a detour into top-fermented territory with Funky Buddha Brewery’s blonde ale. Since it’s eternally summer in Oakland Park, Florida, it’s no surprise that this is a year-round offering. It boasts a nose of mild tropical fruit tempered by some pronounced floral elements, and it sips as easily as lemonade.
7% ABV | An ABV of 7 percent doesn’t necessarily scream “summer drinking,” but it’s so juice-like, you should serve it with breakfast. It’s hazy, like unfiltered apple juice, the nose evokes pineapple, and the flavors alternate among apricot, lime, and perhaps a bit of peach, with some slight umami elements. More “sweet and sour” than strictly sour.
5% ABV | For a different take on sweet sipping, look across the Atlantic and check out this organic sparkling pear cider from Samuel Smith’s Brewery. It sports a funky, yeasty, wild nose, which is quite deceptive as the flavor is mostly soft and fairly sweet, with a somewhat drying finish.
5.3% ABV | Next, head over to Germany to the town of Aying, for this classic take on the style the country made famous. There’s a springlike floral aroma that makes way for an über-crisp drinking experience that’s sharp and slightly sweet.
4.7% ABV | The nose may not be as robust as the previous German pils, but there’s still plenty going on with Fürstenberg—most notably a subtle spiciness that emerges on the palate after a few sips.