Picture this: It's late June, you're lying on a towel at the park, packed sandwiches and chips in a bag, chilly beverages in a cooler, crime thrillers and the latest New Yorker in a backpack. The sun's beating high above you, beads of sweat start to form on your temples, and your shoulders begin to lightly toast, feeling warm to the touch. You fish around in the cooler, make your selection, then take a swig and sigh with relief. It's the coldest, most refreshing beer you feel you've ever tasted, flooding your palate with a hoppy, malty, bubbly sensation that you can't help but respond to with an involuntary "ahh."
If this sounds like your ideal scenario, you're in good company. Below, the Food52 team is sharing its 12 favorite summer beers that are perfect for just this, and more. Try sipping them poolside, accompanied by the heady scent of smoke at backyard BBQs, and after the end of a workday to usher in a long summer evening. Most of these beers are available nationwide (some, even internationally!), but visit BeerMenus to double-check their distribution and availability near you.
1. Bell's Two-Hearted Ale (American-Style India Pale Ale, 7% ABV)
"I love, love, love Bell's Two-Hearted Ale. It's made in Michigan, but distributed all around the U.S. It has a heady, hoppy scent, a really crisp juicy body, and a nice citrusy finish that isn't bitter like other IPAs of its ABV and hop level. I love this beer because it's refreshing, great on its own or with BBQ, and it often pleases people who don't usually like IPAs." —Jacob Parsons, Assistant Buyer
2. Transmitter Brewing's Rice Saison (Saison Brewed With a Pilsner Malt & Flaked Rice, 6% ABV)
"I really love Transmitter Brewing’s Rice Saison—it has the depth of a saison with the crisp refreshing zip of a lager. You could have it with a clambake, a burger, grilled chicken—it’s super friendly, has a lot of character, yet doesn’t try to steal the show." —Amanda Hesser, Co-founder & CEO
3. Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace (Farmhouse Saison, 7.2% ABV)
4. Blackberry Farm Brewery's Classic (Belgian-Style Saison, 6.3% ABV)
"Other good summer go-tos are Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace. Blackberry Farm Brewery also makes a great farmhouse ale that’s fruity and just citrusy enough to balance the yeasty, malty bits." —Amanda Hesser
5. 21st Amendment Brewing's Hell or High Watermelon (Wheat Beer Brewed With Watermelon, 4.9% ABV)
"Hell or High Watermelon is one of my favorite summer beers. Normally I'm not into fruit-forward beers, but the watermelon notes in this one are super, super subtle and not sweet at all—just really refreshing and perfect for summertime." —June Kim, Design Director
6. Sloop Brewing's Juice Bomb IPA (New England India Pale Ale, 6.5% ABV)
"During the summer I am usually on a big IPA kick—like Sloop Juice Bomb IPA, which is hazy and just when you think it’ll be too juicy, it slaps with a bitter bite." —Brian Mahoney, People Operations Director
7. Montauk Brewing Company's Watermelon Session Ale (Session Ale, 4.9% ABV)
8. Abita Strawberry Lager (Lager, 4.2% ABV)
"I'm also often in a light fruit beer mood. My faves are Montauk Watermelon Ale (the watermelon is not too overpowering and when I close my eyes it can practically transport me directly to the beach) and Abita Strawberry Lager (it’s light, creamy, and refreshing)." —Brian Mahoney
9. Westbrook Brewing Company's White Thai (Belgian-Style Wheat Beer With Ginger & Lemongrass, 5% ABV)
"I love Westbrook's White Thai. It's got lemongrass and ginger, which are so refreshing when it's 90 degrees and 110 percent humidity." —Erin Sanders, Customer Care Operations Manager
10. Grimm Artisanal Ale's Piña Pop! (Sour Beer With Pineapple, Coconut, Milk Sugar & Vanilla, 6% ABV)
"I've also been drinking my fair share of Grimm's Piña Pop, which is a sour with coconut, pineapple and vanilla—definitely not available outside New York State, but conveniently for me, is bike-able from my house!" —Erin Sanders
11. Middle Brow Beer Company's Bungalow (American Lager, 4.5% ABV)
"Bungalow by Middle Brow Chicago is a must-try." —Aja Aktay, Buyer
12. Six Point Brewing's Jammer (Gose-Style Ale Brewed With Sea Salt & Coriander, 4% ABV)
And as for me? I'm a big fan of hazy, juicy IPAs (a six-pack of the Sloop Juice Bomb IPA mentioned above is currently chilling in my fridge!) half the time, and personality-packed sours and goses the other half. Which is why Six Point's Jammer fits the bill. It's light-bodied and pleasantly savory, with "a kiss" of Jacobsen Salt Co.'s finishing salt; it's also mildly fruity from the coriander it's brewed with. Last, it's extremely drinkable, with a low enough ABV to let you have a few at a time without needing a nap. In other words, it's the perfect summer drink.