Very few wonderful things are as easy to accomplish as drinking refreshing beer under the hot summer sun. For a sip that actually quenches thirst and cools your palate, you’ll want to steer clear of heavy stouts and hoppy IPAs, and gravitate toward wheat-based beers and lighter ales. (Science, you guys.) Of the many reasons to drink local (supporting the region’s economy, lowering your carbon footprint, yada yada), the most compelling is actually flavor — you’re more likely to tap into a fresh batch. Here are 10 of the best.
In 19 years, Victory co-founders Billl Covaleski and Ron Barchet had never brewed a sour — until they did, and did it well. This gose (pronounced go-ZUH), an old world-style German wheat, has a hint of salinity at the finish, which just makes the tartness of fresh cherry juice even more exhilarating. This is a beer you can chug — though it’s been so popular since its April debut that bottles are relatively hard to get your hands on, so you might not want to.
Style: Berliner Weisse
When the Sansom Street brewpub shuttered last autumn, beer-lovers penned eulogies to this snappy wheat ale that’s both sharp and full-bodied (i.e. you definitely feel it rolling around your mouth, but it goes down super easy). Happily, even though owner Curt Decker hasn’t reopened in his new location yet, he’s contract brewing this recipe at Philadelphia Brewing Company, so it’s currently available on draft all over town.
Mangoes are in play in this seasonal from brewmaster Scott Rudich, mingling with cherries and the signature, yeasty, herbal flavors of the summer farmhouse style. The beer was just named third best new beer of the year by Craig LaBan and the Inquirer Brewvitational panel (the Lansdale brewery also picked up the top honors in the “wheat beer” category for a Berliner Weisse called The Berliner).
Style: Cream Ale
Think of the kind of beer your uncle might kick back with after mowing the lawn, but one that actually tastes great. Instead of cooling down with a boring light lager, pop the top on a can of this well-filtered beer that’s not bitter, not sweet, but just right. (Note: it’s produced by the Croydon brewery year-round, but is just that much more enjoyable after you break a sweat.)
Style: Wheat Ale
Even those who don’t like fruit beers should give this offering from the Perkasie brewery a try. Mango is present enough to give the glass a tropical feel, but it’s not overwhelming or sweet, and the beer’s finish is pleasingly, bracingly dry.
Though gose beers are often made with fruit, they don’t have to be. The style is quickly regaining popularity — to describe what it’s like, think of what would happen if a gin and tonic turned into a beer. This West Philly brewery steps up the ingredient list by using pink Himalayan salt in the brew.
Style: Belgian Wit
Trolley it out to Chestnut Hill (or drive to one of the 10 other regional brewpub locations) to snag a pint of this unfiltered Belgian wheat beer, which that blends a touch of raspberry into its citrusy flavor. The beer is brand new to the house tap list, but you can count on the talented crew of IH brewmasters to get it right.
Style: Pale Ale
Brewmaster Brian O’Reilly is a huge outdoorsman, so he created a new beer perfect for hiking and camping trips. There are plenty of hop flavors at the front of the sip, but no lingering bitterness. Better yet, every can sold benefits the Schuylkill River Heritage Area — Billy Penn even kayaked down the Schuylkill during the beer’s big launch.
Style: Farmhouse Ale
Right across the river in Somerdale, NJ, this brewery just released the first cans in its 20-year existence, and they’re full of this French golden ale. Made with both malt and wheat, there are three kinds of hops that add a spicy, earthy flavor instead of bitterness. This is also a great beer to cook with — use it as a marinade before tossing food on the grill.
Also now just available in cans as of this year, this seasonal is one of the longtime standbys from John and Chris Trogner’s Hershey brewhouse. It’s probably the hoppiest beer on the list, but it’s still easy-drinking enough to qualify as a great summer quencher.