During the hot summers, breweries bring out their summer seasonals. But not all beers suitable for summer are actually summer seasonals -- some are year-round beers.
As the seasons change, so do beers.
For the winter, dark and heavy beers abound on the shelves, while fall has the rich Oktoberfest lagers and pumpkin beers to try.
And during the hot summers, breweries bring out their summer seasonals. Unfortunately, with many breweries, they are boring, uninspired, unoriginal American wheat ales.
American wheat ales aren't terrible beers, some are actually pretty good, but they really pale in comparison to their inspirations, German hefeweizens and Belgian witbiers.
However, there are plenty of other options. Not all beers suitable for summer are actually summer seasonals -- some are year-round beers.
Here's a list of the top 10 beers you should try this summer.
1. Weihenstephan Hefeweissbier (Germany)
This German wheat beer, or hefeweizen, is the perfect summer beer. It's crisp, refreshing and oh so drinkable. It has hints of banana, cloves and lemon in the taste, and it actually has a dry finish. It's one of the best beers in the world. This goes great with a nice summery salad, or even a fruit salad.
If not this, then try these: Sierra Nevada's Kellerweiss Hefeweizen, Paulaner Hefeweissbier, Hacker-Pschorr Hefeweiss.
2. Dogfish Head's Festina Peche (Delaware)
Festina Peche is an American take on a relatively obscure (at least in the U.S.) German style -- the Berliner weissebier. Berliner weissbiers are tart and refreshing. They are often flavored with woodruff syrup, a popular Germany flavoring made from a plant, to take the bite out of them, although I prefer it without the syrup.
The Festina Peche is actually brewed with peaches, which takes the edge off the tartness. It is amazingly refreshing and incredibly drinkable. This is a beer that I have to slow down and savor so I don't drink it in one big gulp.
If not this, then try this: the Bruery's Hottenroth Berliner Weiss.
3. Reissdorf Kolsch (Germany)
Apparently, Germans really know how to brew good hot-weather beers. This is another great beer to enjoy during the summer. It has a light hop bitterness; it's dry, with hints of flavors ranging from pine to vanilla in the background; and it's very light-colored but clean and easy drinking. The key for a summer beer is drinkability -- you want something that goes down easy -- and there aren't many beers more drinkable than the Reissdorf Kolsch.
If not this, then try these: Harpoon Summer Beer, Berkshire's Gold Spike ale, Stoudt's Karnival Kolsch.
4. Allagash White (Maine)
Allagash's take on the Belgian witbier is a classic and one of the most recognizable beers from New England. This has the traditional coriander and bitter orange peel flavors, as well as a hint of lemon, and is slightly spicy. This is a heftier wheat beer than a hefeweizen, and is good to pair with barbecue.
If not this, then try these: St. Bernardus Witbier, Hitachino Nest White Ale, Hoegaarden.
5. Brooklyn Lager (New York)
This is one of my favorite daily drinking beers. I just love it. It is amazingly easy-drinking, flavorful and darker than the mass-produced lagers you see on commercials. This is what I picture American lagers tasting like before the introduction of adjuncts such as corn and rice. It's a hoppier-than-many lager. If this is what all lagers tasted like, the world would be a better place for beer drinkers.
If not this, then try these: Shmaltz's Coney Island Lager, Lakefront's Riverwest Steinbeer.
6. Anchor Steam (California)
A true American classic and the first beer from the country's oldest craft brewery, it lives up to its reputation. Heavily carbonated, it has a slightly toasted malt flavor, but has a little fruitiness to balance this out.
If not this, then try these: I can't think of any other steam beers that are widely available.
7. Troegs Sunshine Pils (Pennsylvania)
Pilsners just seem made for summer. Troegs' version is a good example of the style. It has a nice hoppy bitterness, but it's not overwhelming. It goes down really easy and is light in color but full of flavor. It would be a good cookout beer. It's the kind of beer a beer geek would like, but those who don't normally like craft beer wouldn't be afraid of.
If not this, then try these: Lagunitas PILS, Stoudt's Pils, Victory Prima Pils.
8. Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema (California)
Cream ales really don't get a lot of respect. Some people view them as the ale-version of a light lager, however, there are some that are quite good. Anderson Valley's is the best. As the name implies, it's creamy, but it's not boring. There is little hoppiness, but it is big on refreshment.
If not this, then try these: Haverhill's Haver Ale, Thomas Hooker's Blonde Ale.
9. Pretty Thing's Jack D'Or (Massachusetts)
Saisons are crisp, dry and refreshing beers (great with food, too). Jack D'Or is a slightly different take on the Belgian style. There are a lot of different flavors going on with this; spices like pepper and even orange zest can be found in this beer. But, just like all beers on this list, it's a great beer to sit out on the front porch with at night and listen to the crickets.
If not this, then try these: Ommegang's Hennepin, the Bruery's Saison De Lente.
10. Founders Cerise (Michigan)
There's a misconception out there that fruit beers are made for women. That's simply not true. There are some truly fantastic fruit beers. The key, though, is the use of real fruit. Founders Cerise, a cherry beer, is a great, fun-to-drink fruit beer. It'll go great with ice cream.
If not this, then try these: 21st Amendment's Hell of High Watermelon Wheat, Unibroue Ephemere (apple).
Norman Miller is a MetroWest Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at http://blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut/ or follow the Beer Nut at his Twitter page at www.twitter.com/realbeernut.