Summer is the time for light, refreshing beers. Big Imperial stouts and barley wines have no place in the cooler but that doesn't mean beer lovers have to sacrifice flavor and character in their beer. This summer, instead of grabbing the first sixer of mass produced lager that you see on display at the local convenience store, take a few minutes to slow down and pick something new. No, I don't care if that other beer now comes with lime, it's time to move on!
Here are four beer styles and four brands of beer to get you started on trying something new this summer. These beers are all properly refreshing and will offer a nice break from the summer heat but they also bring a little something extra to the table. Go ahead, give them a shot. Who knows, you might actually find a flavorful new favorite!
Red Stripe - Light Lager
Light lager is easily the best selling beer style in the world. The descriptor light in the name of this style does not refer to any low calorie or low carb aspects of the beer, it's all about flavor and color. Light lager features delicate flavors, light hopping and an overall refreshing characteristic. With more fizz than flavor it remains a popular beer style throughout the world and a summertime staple. My pick for this style is Red Stripe. There is more to this Jamaican lager than fun stubby bottles and the enduringly adorable 'Hooray beer!' ad campaign. Red Stripe has all the refreshment of a light lager but with a bit more flavor and character than other representatives of the style.
Chimay - Belgian Ale
If you want big flavor in your summer beer look no further than Belgian ale. There is a wide variety of these ales. To varying degrees they all feature rich, deep flavors accented with strong yeasty notes. The Chimay three-pack with the brewer's famous Blue, Red and Triple ales is a great way to get to know these flavorful beers. The pack also includes a traditional goblet so you'll know that you're drinking your ale from the proper glassware that displays the deep colors and beautiful, creamy head of these rich beers. These ales are great to sip slowly on their own or serve them with your next cookout for an incredible pairing experience.
Bitburger - German Pils
Going back to lagers, my next summer beer pick is Pilsner. Originally brewed in the Czech Republic as a soft, full-bodied lager, Pilsner has been recreated by brewers all over the world. Some of my favorite Pilsner, or Pils, comes from Germany. While there are plenty of good ones to choose from my pick is Bitburger. It captures the soft, mouth filling quality of the original Czech recipes while lots of German Saaz hops make you stand up and take notice. With more flavor and character then American-style light lager but still plenty of refreshing fizz and a clean lager snap, German Pils is one of my favorite pleasures of summer.
Flying Dog Doggie-Style - Pale Ale
If brewers have taken liberties with Czech Pilsner, then American beer makers have yanked pale ale out of British brewers' hands and completely reinvented the style. British pale ale is malty with moderate hops and a wholly agreeable air about it. At the beginning of the craft beer renaissance here in the US, California brewers took the style and dumped huge amounts of Pacific coast hops in it. The piney and citrusy hops recreated and refined style into a bright, exciting ale. The best American pale ales like my pick for this style, Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale from Flying Dog, feature big hops aromas, a nice malty backbone and a plenty of hops bitterness in the ending.
This summer look beyond those beers that focus on cold refreshment - and lime juice - and choose some brews with flavor. You don't have to sacrifice flavor for refreshment. These four light and tasty beers prove that beer can be thirst quenching and flavorful at the same time.