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50 American Beers To Try This Summer

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During the warm summer months, most U.S. breweries offer special seasonal beers specifically crafted to be sipped in the hot sun. Craft beer trends like fruit-infused IPAs and sours are growing more and more popular, but whether they're wheat beers, pilsners, or even dark beers like porters, they can easily be thrown into a cooler and taken to the beach or backyard BBQ on lazy summer days. Here are 50 American beers to try this summer.

1. AGAVE WHEAT // BRECKENRIDGE BREWERY // COLORADO

Courtesy Breckenridge Brewery

Breckenridge Brewery calls this wheat ale the "nectar of the beer gods." Perfect for drinking or to enhance a dinner recipe, Agave Wheat is listed as one of Breck Brew’s “main line” beers. Sold year-round, you’ll find that subtle notes of agave create a light and refreshing taste that goes well with hot days. The brewery also makes the seasonal SummerBright Ale, lighter and “ideal for picnicking, evenings on the screen porch and enjoying the whims of summer.”

2. ALLAGASH SAISON ALE // ALLAGASH BREWING COMPANY // MAINE

Courtesy Allagash Brewing Company

Allagash Saison Ale is this Portland, Maine brewing company’s take on a farmhouse-style Belgian ale. Gold in color, it's effervescent and pairs well with spicy, flavorful food (plus, it can help reduce the effects of a humid day).

3. AMOROUS // WICKED WEED BREWING // NORTH CAROLINA

Amorous is a sour beer, also known as an American Wild Ale for its use of wild yeasts that make an intentionally acidic or tart flavor. Sour beers have gained in popularity over the years and are known to be a popular choice for the dog days of summer. Amorous spends nearly a year aging in red wine barrels before becoming ready for you to enjoy in flip-flops and a tank top.

4. ANCHOR MEYER LEMON LAGER // ANCHOR BREWING COMPANY // CALIFORNIA

Anchor's newest canned beer is an American lager beaming with tart, bright flavors thanks to California-grown Meyer lemons. "Complexity without cacophony," as they say. If you prefer your lemons in lemonade, Anchor has been brewing their Summer Wheat every year (and only available from May through August) since 1984. 

5. APOCALYPSE COW // THREE FLOYDS BREWING CO. // INDIANA

Courtesy Three Floyds Brewing Co.

If you find yourself visiting the Midwest this summer, be sure to check out Three Floyds, a small Indiana brewery known for memorable and delicious beers since 1996. Their Apocalypse Cow is a double India pale ale that tastes like a blend of citrusy and floral hops and is only made in small batches. Artist Dan Grzeca, known for his artwork for musicians like the Melvins and Andrew Bird, designed the beer's label. But be careful: This strong seasonal has an 8.6 percent ABV. If that's too steep for a lazy afternoon, try the Calumet Queen, a refreshing Kölsch-style beer that is also suited for summer.

6. BEERITO // OSKAR BLUES BREWERY // COLORADO

Courtesy Oskar Blues Brewery

Cool down in extreme heat with Oskar Blues’ Mexican lager, Beerito. An ice cold can of this amber-hued, 4-percent ABV lager should go down easily.

7. BELL’S OBERON ALE // BELL’S BREWERY // MICHIGAN

Michigan’s Bell’s Brewery claims their beer, which has only four ingredients and is fermented with their “signature house ale yeast,” tastes the way summer should feel. Oberon Ale “is the color and scent of sunny afternoon” and its happy-sun label makes it an inviting addition to summer activities.

8. BOOGIE BOARD STUNTZ // OTHER HALF BREWING CO. // NEW YORK

Matt Coats

If you find yourself needing a break from New York City’s heat, head to Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing Co., where they’ve been creating quality beers since 2014. Boogie Board Stuntz is an easy drinking, limited-edition summer Kölsch that'll have you making plans to hit up Rockaway Beach.

9. CITRADELIC // NEW BELGIUM // COLORADO AND NORTH CAROLINA

Courtesy of New Belgium

Soothe your sun-kissed skin with the bright flavor of oranges and tangerines. New Belgium’s Citradelic has notes of tangerine-infused orange peel and a dry and clean finish. New Belgium started in Fort Collins, Colorado, but after opening an additional brewery in North Carolina, their beers can now be enjoyed in 28 states.

10. DEAD RISE OLD BAY SUMMER ALE // FLYING DOG BREWERY // MARYLAND

Courtesy Flying Dog Brewery

Brewed to celebrate Old Bay’s 75th anniversary—and meant to go down easily with summertime shrimp, Maryland blue crabs, and corn—this seasonal is made by Maryland-based Flying Dog Brewery. Fun fact: Flying Dog originally opened in as a brew pub in Aspen, Colorado, which was once home to Hunter S. Thompson, a friend of Flying Dog's owner. Continuing that connection, the labels feature illustrations by longtime Thompson collaborator Ralph Steadman.

11. EMERGENCY DRINKING BEER // WILD HEAVEN CRAFT BEERS // GEORGIA

Courtesy Chris Rank // Rank Studios

A conversation starter in a can: First you'll be drawn to Emergency Drinking Beer’s great name and design, but you'll quickly fall in love with this Pils-style beer that combines citrus zest, Portuguese sea salt, and lemongrass. 

12. EOS HEFEWEIZEN // NEBRASKA BREWING COMPANY // NEBRASKA

A sweeter Bavarian wheat beer, the company calls this “an award winning Hefeweizen from the Heartland.” A favorite amongst critics and winner of various awards from 2010 through 2014, this summer beverage is medium to full-bodied and pairs well with salads, seafood, and goat cheese.

13. FESTINA PECHE // DOGFISH HEAD BREWERY // DELAWARE

Berliner Weisse is known for intense tartness, based on the raspberry or cherry syrups it can be fermented or typically served with. Dogfish Head thinks of their seasonal Festina Peche as a neo-Berliner Weisse, which they ferment with peach extracts. It's a session sour beer sold in four-packs, and is meant to be a crisp, refreshing beer for lounging in the heat.

14. FOCAL BANGER // THE ALCHEMIST // VERMONT

Courtesy The Alchemist

One of the great things about The Alchemist’s beers is their exclusivity: They must be enjoyed in the Green Mountains of Vermont, and, as one user reviewed on Beer Advocate, the brew “smells like a wedding in the meadow.” Take a trip to their new brewery, which opened this summer, and try the Focal Banger. If you find yourself in Vermont, but don’t have time to visit them, try a Heady Topper, their acclaimed flagship double IPA.

15. FOUNDERS PORTER // FOUNDERS BREWING CO. // MICHIGAN

Though more often thought of as a cold-weather beer, for those who enjoy a nice dark beer rather than an IPA, try Founders Brewing’s Porter. Served chilled, this American porter can be enjoyed year-round. But if you need to wear a hat and jacket while sipping heavier beers, try it as a beer float.

16. GOIN’ COASTAL // SWEETWATER BREWING COMPANY // GEORGIA

Courtesy SweetWater Brewing Company

Atlanta’s SweetWater brewery introduced a new seasonal IPA this year which is available all summer. Described as having bright aromas, a quick finish "just like those three day weekends," and the slightest hint of pineapple, Goin' Coastal is so tasty thieves recently ran off with 3272 cases. (That's over 78000 bottles of beer!)

17. GOOD JUJU // LEFT HAND BREWING COMPANY // COLORADO

If you’re in the mood for a spiced beer that feels more like a ginger ale, try Left Hand Brewing’s Good Juju. Described as a light ale with organic ginger, it's mellow enough for a backyard cookout or after-work treat.

18. GRAPEFRUIT GROVE // CIGAR CITY BREWING // FLORIDA

Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing says, “we make beer we like to drink and toast those who choose to drink with us.” For fans of grapefruit, try this limited release sour beer while basking in the Florida sun.

19. GRAPEFRUIT SCULPIN // BALLAST POINT BREWING COMPANY // CALIFORNIA

Ballast Point took a twist on their award-winning IPA and added grapefruit. The tartness enhances the flavors of this pale ale's citrusy hops, and makes a smooth summery brew.

20. HELL OR HIGH WATERMELON // 21ST AMENDMENT BREWERY // CALIFORNIA

Courtesy 21st Amendment Brewery

Don’t be fooled by the name: Hell or High Watermelon is an American wheat beer brewed with real, fresh watermelon, but the fruit flavor is not overwhelming. It's just slight enough to feel refreshing, and is why 21st Amendment refers to this drink as "summer in a can."

21. HOP SUN // SOUTHERN TIER BREWING COMPANY // NEW YORK

Courtesy Southern Tier

This session ale by New York's Southern Tier Brewing Company is a golden wheat beer that has been a summer staple since 2004. They suggest pairing Hop Sun with fresh mozzarella, chilly gazpacho, and other picnic fare. Cheers to that!

22. KOFFEE KÖLSCH // HUSS BREWING // ARIZONA

Java lovers can enjoy the reasonably light (4.7 percent ABV) Koffee Kölsch from Huss Brewing in Tempe, Arizona. The lightness and drinkability with a coffee kick is perfect for sipping all summer long, but is thankfully available year-round for those who like boozy iced coffee.

23. LA ROJA // JOLLY PUMPKIN ARTISAN ALES // MICHIGAN

Jolly Pumpkin’s La Roja sour beer has hints of spice, caramel, and sour fruit notes that come from months of barrel aging. If you like sour ales and are near one of their four Michigan locations, pop in and enjoy.

24. LAGUNITAS PILS // LAGUNITAS BREWING COMPANY // CALIFORNIA

Courtesy Lagunitas Brewing Company

Lagunitas Brewing in California is known for their craft ales, but with PILS, they created their only lager. Light and crisp like the waters on the coast of Petaluma where it originated, it's a Czech-style pilsner that you can drink all day long.

25. LOST HIGHWAY // MOTHER ROAD BREWING COMPANY // ARIZONA

If summertime makes you think 'road trip,' then Lost Highway Imperial Black IPA out of Mother Road in the mountains of Flagstaff, Arizona should become your go-to beer. Smooth and dark and “dedicated to the long stretches of Route 66 lost in time,” this darkish ale is made for the pit-stops between those endless miles.

26. LUNCH BREAK ISA // BREAKSIDE BREWERY // OREGON

If you brake for hops, then Portland’s Breakside Brewery’s ISA, aptly called Lunch Break, is the session IPA for you. The trend of session ales began as a way to deliver hop-heavy beers with lower alcohol content than usual IPAs, and with hints of orange marmalade and grapefruit, this beer might have you extending that lunch hour just a tad.

27. OTRA VEZ // SIERRA NEVADA // CALIFORNIA

Sierra Nevada’s “perfect warm weather beer” is gose-style beer, a German sour that incorporates California’s prickly pear and grapefruit to create a light bodied and tangy—with a touch of sweet—brew.

28. OVERBOARD IPA // BIG ISLAND BREWHAUS // HAWAII

If sipping an ultra-hoppy IPA soothes you, try Hawaii’s Overboard IPA. Big Island Brewhaus won gold at the 2013 U.S. Beer Open Championship, and this pale ale is on draft if you find yourself on Hawaiian beaches this summer.

29. PASSION FRUIT KICKER // GREEN FLASH BREWING CO. // CALIFORNIA

Courtesy Green Flash Brewing Co.

Sweet. Tart. Fruity. Passion Fruit Kicker is a 5.5 percent ABV wheat ale that Green Flash Brewing calls an "exhilarating crowd pleaser." Brewed and bottled in SoCal, Passion Fruit Kicker’s flavor comes from "cold steeped passion fruit tea" from a local retailer, as well as passion fruit concentrate.

30. PIVO HOPPY PILS // FIRESTONE WALKER BREWING COMPANY // CALIFORNIA

Firestone Walker calls its Pivo Hoppy Pils a "classically rendered pilsner" with a West Coast twist. Based on Czech and German pilsners but heavily influenced by the dry-hopped pils of Northern Italy, this brew can be enjoyed with heavier foods, like any summer barbecue items.

31. SEERSUCKER SUMMER PILS // ABITA // LOUISIANA

Courtesy Abita Brewing Company

Abita’s Seersucker Summer Pils is available from June through September and is a perfect beverage for lounging in lawn chairs in your puckered cotton while digging into grilled chicken and summer salads. If you want a lighter option, try Abita Light, which is only 118 calories and available in a six-pack.

32. SOCK KNOCKER // CORONADO BREWING CO. // CALIFORNIA

Sock Knocker is an Imperial IPA, or double IPA, which is 8.5 percent ABV and full of tasty hops. Or, as Coronado boasts, "an even more obscene hops overload than our infamous Idiot IPA."

33. SONGBIRD SAISON // TALLGRASS BREWING CO. // KANSAS

Songbird uses dry-hopping to make a Belgian-style ale with hints of apricot and lemon. Tallgrass calls this saison gentle on the palate and suggests serving it alongside rustic, earthy flavors like roasted meat and tangy cheese.

34. STEALIN’ TIME // MAGIC HAT BREWERY // VERMONT

Courtesy Magic Hat Brewing Company

“Stealin' Time is a hazy summer sipper that will while away the days with a light malt sweetness,” says Magic Hat. A pinch of ginger, a touch of hops, and best enjoyed while listening to Gerry Rafferty.

35. STORMCHASER IPA // FREE STATE BREWING // KANSAS

Described as crisp and light-bodied, this blonde brew out of Lawrence has notes of orange and grapefruit, and was apparently created for the "brave and slightly crazy breed of Free Stater" who likes to chase the Sunflower State's famous twisters.

36. SUMMER ALE // BLUE POINT BREWING COMPANY // NEW YORK

Long Island brewer Blue Point knows summer. Their Summer Ale is light and tangy, and with 4.5 percent ABV, is a favorite at both the boardwalk and the pool.

37. SUMMER ALE // BROOKLYN BREWERY // NEW YORK

Available during peak stoop and rooftop hanging time in New York, Brooklyn Brewery’s Summer Ale can be enjoyed with seafood, quiches, and over long Sunday brunches as a quintessential addition to summertime in NYC.

38. SUMMER BLONDE // RIVER HORSE BREWING CO. // NEW JERSEY

Courtesy River Horse Brewing Co.

New Jersey’s River Horse Brewing Company makes its Summer Blonde available—in both bottles and cans—from April through August. This American blonde ale is perfect for hot summer nights under the stars.

39. SUMMER LOVE ALE // VICTORY BREWING COMPANY // PENNSYLVANIA

The City of Brotherly Love's travel and tourism group commissioned Victory Brewing to create a beer that would "capture the essence" of the city's history—Summer Love was their answer. The ale is a tasty, golden treat with a touch of lemon and whole flower hops.

40. SUMMER OF LAGER // CISCO BREWERS // MASSACHUSETTS

Summer of Lager is a Bohemian pilsner, a perfect beach beer—but enjoy this one where it's brewed, right on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. If a light beer is what you’re after, pick up a six pack of Sankaty Light, another Cisco Brewers product that’s just 126 calories and named after the famous Nantucket lighthouse.

41. SUMMER SOLSTICE // ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING COMPANY // CALIFORNIA

Known as a "cream soda for adults," Anderson Valley’s Summer Solstice is a seasonal session beer that is lightly sweetened with caramel and spice. And since it pairs with everything from barbecue chicken to s’mores, feel free to pack it for any outdoor eating event.

42. SUPERFUZZ BLOOD ORANGE PALE ALE // ELYSIAN BREWING // WASHINGTON

Tasting notes of blood orange and Northwest hops mingle in this medium-bodied pale ale, the Seattle brewery's nod to hometown legend Jimi Hendrix.

43. TANK 7 FARMHOUSE ALE // BOULEVARD BREWING COMPANY // MISSOURI

Courtesy Boulevard Brewing Company

Tank 7 is a saison, or a farmhouse ale known for high carbonation, from Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Missouri. But if you’re not into hop bitterness and high alcohol content (Tank 7 pulls an 8.5 percent ABV), try Boulevard’s Ginger Lemon Radler, a lighter, slightly sweet option with the ideal bitterness of a lemonade.

44. TOWER STATION IPA // MOTHER ROAD BREWING COMPANY // ARIZONA

Courtesy Mother Road Brewing Company

Another from Mother Road Brewing, Tower Station is an unfiltered IPA. The best thing about this beer? The delicious taste is practically overshadowed by the cool design of the pull-top can, which makes the top completely removable, leaving you with an aluminum pint glass.

45. TRÖEGS SUNSHINE PILS // TRÖEGS INDEPENDENT BREWING // PENNSYLVANIA

Winning various awards since 2008, including the 2012 Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival, Tröegs Sunshine Pils is a Bohemian style Pilsner with a straw and gold hue perfect for summer sipping.

46. TROPICÁLIA // CREATURE COMFORTS BREWING CO. // GEORGIA

Athens, Georgia's Creature Comforts Brewing got in on the summery IPA game with Tropicália, a blend of passion fruit and citrus hops that they say leads to a “fruit journey for your palate.” This relatively new brewery just celebrated its two year anniversary in April, but judging from the beers they're putting out, they'll be around for a long time.

47. TROUBLESOME // OFF COLOR BREWING // ILLINOIS

Explained by Off Color Brewing as two beers—an uninteresting wheat beer and overly acidic, funky beer—blended together with coriander and salt, this gose style beer has a "fuller sensation of mouthfeel."

48. WAILUA WHEAT // KONA BREWING COMPANY // HAWAII

Courtesy Kona Brewing Company

Named for the Wailua Falls found on Maui’s Hana Highway, this golden ale is generally only available in Hawaii, but is now available in the contiguous states of Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico as of this year.

49. WHITEWATER // GREAT DIVIDE BREWING CO. // COLORADO

Try Whitewater at Colorado’s Great Divide brewery in downtown Denver, or pack some cans for your summer hiking or rafting trips in the Rockies—this American wheat ale has hints of citrus and floral notes, giving it an even bitterness.

50. WOLF AMONG WEEDS IPA // GOLDEN ROAD BREWING // CALIFORNIA

Courtesy Golden Road Brewing

First brewed in 2012, this strong double IPA with 8 percent ABV comes from Golden Road, Los Angeles’s largest craft brewer. It has a nice hint of pine and citrus scents, as if you needed another reminder to spent your summer days out in the wild.

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Courtesy New District
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Say ‘Cheers’ to the Holidays With This 24-Bottle Wine Advent Calendar
Courtesy New District
Courtesy New District

This year, eschew your one-tiny-chocolate-a-day Advent calendar and count down to Christmas the boozy way. An article on the Georgia Straight tipped us off to New District’s annual wine Advent calendars, featuring 24 full-size bottles.

Each bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine is hand-picked by the company’s wine director, with selections from nine different countries. Should you be super picky, you can even order yourself a custom calendar, though that will likely add to the already-high price point. The basic 24-bottle order costs $999 (in Canadian dollars), and if you want to upgrade from cardboard boxes to pine, that will run you $100 more.

If you can’t quite handle 24 bottles (or $999), the company is introducing a 12-bottle version this year, too. For $500, you get 12 reds, whites, rosés, and sparkling wines from various unnamed “elite wine regions.”

With both products, each bottle is numbered, so you know exactly what you should be drinking every day if you really want to be a stickler for the Advent schedule. Whether you opt for 12 or 24 bottles, the price works out to about $42 per bottle, which is somewhere in between the “I buy all my wines based on what’s on sale at Trader Joe’s” level and “I am a master sommelier” status.

If you want to drink yourself through the holiday season, act now. To make sure you receive your shipment before December 1, you’ll need to order by November 20. Get it here.

[h/t the Georgia Straight]

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Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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A Brief History of the Pickleback Shot
Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Wally Gobetz, flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's sour. It's briny. For some, it's nauseating. For others, a godsend.

It's the pickleback shot, an unusual combination of drinking whiskey and pickle brine that has quickly become a bartending staple. Case in point? Kelly Lewis, manager of New York City's popular Crocodile Lounge, estimates she sells at least 100 pickleback shots every week.

Pickleback loyalists may swear by it, but how did this peculiar pairing make its way into cocktail culture? On today's National Pickle Day, we hit the liquor history books to find out.

PICKLEBACK HISTORY, AS WE KNOW IT

As internet legend has it, Reggie Cunningham, a former employee of Brooklyn dive bar Bushwick Country Club, invented the shot in March 2006. He was half bartending, half nursing a hangover with McClure's pickles, when a customer challenged him to join her in doing a shot of Old Crow bourbon whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice as a chaser. As he nostalgically tells YouTube channel Awesome Dreams, "the rest is history."

Cunningham went on to introduce the pairing to more and more customers, and the demand grew so much that he decided to charge an extra dollar per shot, just for the addition of pickle brine. After that, the mixture spread like wildfire, with bars across the world from New York to California and China to Amsterdam adding "pickleback" to their menus.

THE PICKLEBACK'S UNCLEAR ORIGIN

Two shot glasses topped with small pickles.

Neil Conway, flickr // CC BY 2.0

Sure, Cunningham may have named it the pickleback shot, but after reviewing mixed reports, it appears pickle juice as a chaser is hardly novel. In Texas, for example, pickle brine was paired with tequila well before Cunningham's discovery, according to Men’s Journal. And in Russia, pickles have long been used to follow vodka shots, according to an NPR report on traditional Russian cuisine.

Unfortunately, no true, Britannica-approved record of the pickleback's origin exists, like so many do for other popular drinks, from the Manhattan to the Gin Rickey; it's internet hearsay—and in this case, Cunningham's tale is on top.

SO, WHY PICKLES?

Not sold yet? Sure, a pickle's most common companion is a sandwich, but the salty snack and its brine have terrific taste-masking powers.

"People who don't like the taste of whiskey love taking picklebacks because they completely cut the taste, which makes the shots very easy to drink," Lewis told Mental Floss. "Plus, they add a bit of salt, which blends nicely with the smooth flavor of Jameson."

Beyond taste masking, pickle juice is also a commonly used hangover cure, with the idea being that the salty brine will replenish electrolytes and reduce cramping. In fact, after a famed NFL "pickle juice game" in 2000, during which the Philadelphia Eagles destroyed the Dallas Cowboys in 109 degree weather (with the Eagles crediting their trainer for recommending they drink the sour juice throughout the game), studies have seemed to confirm that drinks with a vinegary base like pickle juice can help reduce or relieve muscle cramping.

WAYS TO PARTAKE

While core pickleback ingredients always involve, well, pickles, each bar tends to have a signature style. For example, Lewis swears by Crocodile Lounge's mix of pickle brine and Jameson; it pairs perfectly with the bar's free savory pizza served with each drink.

For Cunningham, the "Pickleback OG," it's Old Crow and brine from McClure's pickles. And on the more daring side, rather than doing a chaser shot of pickle juice, Café Sam of Pittsburgh mixes jalapeños, homemade pickle juice, and gin together for a "hot and sour martini."

If pickles and whiskey aren't up your alley, you can still get in on the pickle-liquor movement with one of the newer adaptations, including a "beet pickleback" or—gulp!—the pickled-egg and Jägermeister shot, also known as an Eggermeister.

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