summerbeers
Billy Penn Illustration

The 21 best beers for summer, according to Philly brewmasters

Bookmark this for easy drinking throughout the season.

danya

Summer fun is basically synonymous with beer drinking, but not all modern brews pair well with a hot sunny day. Even if you normally love the hoppy, sour, strong or complex offerings crafted by local breweries, most of them are just too much for an afternoon by the pool or the beach.

“Too many beers are working to see how much flavor they can pack in,” said Iron Hill Brewery co-founder Mark Edelson, “and we’ve lost the appreciation for delicate balance.”

Troegs co-owner John Trogner agreed. “My tastes seem to shift a bit during the hot and humid summer days,” he said. “I tend to be outside a lot and am not really looking to ‘crush’ my palate.”

To answer the question of what will work well in the heat, we asked these and other experts to tell share some of their faves, including one from their own brewery. Several of the picks overlapped, as it turns out, but in general, pilsners scored big, as did wheat bears and saisons.

So before you make your beer runs this weekend — and for easy drinking throughout the season — check out these 21 great summer beer suggestions from Philly area brewmasters.

Bill Covaleski, Victory

Bill Covaleski (right) with Tom Kehoe of Yards

Bill Covaleski of Victory (right) with Tom Kehoe of Yards

Danya Henninger

Stoudts Pils

Adamstown, Pa., pilsner, 5.4% ABV

“Always pleases me with its delicate malt character, soft bitterness and quenching finish. Summertime is when this beer really shines because it takes me back to lager drinking sessions in the Stoudts biergarten when Ron [Barchet, Victory co-founder] and I were just homebrewers.”

Allagash White

Portland, Me., Belgian-style wit, 5.1% ABV

“An alluring summer beer for me due to the depth of it’s sublime, lemony flavors. A sun dappled picnic blanket needs only this beer and some goat cheese, like Cloud Nine from Yellow Springs Farm.”

Victory Home Grown

Downingtown, Pa., American lager, 4.8% ABV

“I relish the smooth lager finish that doesn’t interfere with full appreciation of six varieties of whole flower hops wafting off the top of the glass like a puffy, aromatic June cloud. Those hops give it just enough bracing bite to bring me back for sip after sip.”

Trevor Hayward, Evil Genius

Trevor Hayward of Evil Genius

Trevor Hayward of Evil Genius

Danya Henninger

Dogfish Head Festina Peche

Milton, Del., Berliner weisse, 4.5% ABV

“What I love about this one is the little tartness to it. A unique brew that is both refreshing as well as having something a little different.”

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon

San Francisco, Ca., wheat beer, 4.9% ABV

“When it’s hot out, and I’m at the beach or grilling, I want something that will quench my thirst.”

Evil Genius Ma! The Meatloaf

Philadelphia, Pa., Belgian-style witbeer, 5.5% ABV

“This one I love, beside it being on of our own, because it’s such a thirst quencher. On a hot day, there’s nothing like it!”

Brian O’Reilly, Sly Fox

Brian O'Reilly of Sly Fox

Brian O'Reilly of Sly Fox

Danya Henninger

Stoudts Hefe

Adamstown, Pa., hefeweizen, 5% ABV

“Beautiful Bavarian style wheat ale from the first microbrewery in the state of PA! Still as vibrant and delicious as it was 20 years ago.”

Victory Summer Love

Downingtown, Pa., golden ale, 5.2% ABV

“Wish I had thought of that name first! It has a perfect mix of new American hops and a dry Pilsner type finish.”

Sly Fox Grisette

Phoenixville, Pa., Belgian-style farmhouse ale, 5.6% ABV

“Refreshing, light and distinctive. Fits any occasion or food.”

John Trogner, Troegs

John Trogner of Troegs (right) with Brian O'Reilly of Sly Fox

John Trogner of Troegs (right) with Brian O'Reilly of Sly Fox

Danya Henninger

Sly Fox Helles

Phoenixville, Pa., German-style lager, 4.9% ABV

“You can’t go wrong with [this] damn good lager. Great simple malt and yeast complexity and no bullshit.”

Allagash White

Portland, Me., Belgian-style wit, 5.1% ABV

“Not only does it work from a flavor standpoint, I really dig the crew from the brewery. Fellow independents have to stick together, right? Rob Todd is a class act not to mention everyone else I’ve ever come across from there has had a genuine love for beer and our industry.”

Troegs Sunshine Pils

Hershey, Pa., German-style pilsner,  4.5% ABV

“My go-to companion. It travels well (cans), works with all sorts of summer foods (perfect by the grill) and won’t abuse my taste buds. Oh and the low ABV helps.”

Gerard Olson, Forest and Main

Gerard Olson of Forest and Main

Gerard Olson of Forest and Main

Danya Henninger

Victory Prima Pils

Downingtown, Pa., German-style pilsner, 5.3% ABV

“It’s just pretty much the perfect beer.”

Allagash Hoppy Table Beer

Portland, Me., Belgian-style pale ale, 4.8% ABV

“This beer is rad. To me it drinks like a saison — it’s light, dry, lower in alcohol, and has a great fruity and spicy character where you try to see where the hops end and the yeast begins.”

Forest and Main Solaire Reserve

Ardmore, Pa., saison, 4.5% ABV

“We’re hoping to have this one available all the time in bottles starting this summer. Our foraged yeast ferments this light and hoppy saison bone dry. We naturally carbonate in the bottle, and the beer will evolve a delicate funk character over time.”

Mark Edelson, Iron Hill

Mark Edelson of Iron Hill (front) with co-founders Kevin Davies and Kevin Finn

Mark Edelson of Iron Hill (front) with co-founders Kevin Davies and Kevin Finn

Danya Henninger

Yards Philly Pale Ale

Philadelphia, Pa., pale ale, 4.6% ABV

“This is a go to for me. Low alcohol, low IBU, lots of great hop flavor.”

Victory Summer Love

Downingtown, Pa., golden ale, 5.2% ABV

“I found this beer last summer drinking in a beer garden one evening. Was perfect for the occasion.”

Iron Hill Mahalo Apollo!

Philadelphia, Pa., wheat beer, 6.3% ABV

“This beer was made for enjoying in the summer. Belgian wit style but we have switched up traditional spicing with lemongrass and grains of paradise.”

Sean Arsenault, Brewery ARS

Sean Arsenault of Brewery ARS (right) with twin brother and cofounder Andy

Sean Arsenault of Brewery ARS (right) with twin brother and cofounder Andy

Danya Henninger

Troegs Sunshine Pils

Hershey, Pa., German-style pilsner,  4.5% ABV

“Troegs finally went year round with our favorite local pilsner and we couldn’t be happier. We’re pretty spoiled when it comes to quality pilsners in our local marketplace, but there’s something about the combination of Hersbruckers and Saaz hops in a teeny tiny low ABV package that just screams summer.”

De Ranke XX Bitter

Mouscron, Belgium, Belgian IPA, 6% ABV

“Everything they do is utterly amazing. [This beer] is exceedingly dry, hop forward and bitter. With the focus these days on decreased and decreased bitterness, this saison is an exceptional example of how bitterness can stand out in a beer.”

Brewery ARS Generations Rhubarb Saison

Philadelphia, Pa., saison, 7% ABV

“This saison is brewed with rhubarb from our great grandmothers garden. We add the rhubarb post fermentation for a tart, yet thirst quenching flavor profile. We also utilize Belma hops for this saison, which adds layers of strawberries and grapefruit.”

Tim Patton, Saint Benjamin Brewing

Tim Patton of Saint Benjamin

Tim Patton of Saint Benjamin

Danya Henninger

Sly Fox Pikeland Pils

Phoenixville, Pa., German-style pilsner, 4.9% ABV

“Great beer and easy to find around town.”

Allagash White

Portland, Me., Belgian-style wit, 5.1% ABV

“It is a classic for a reason.”

Saint Benjamin Bicentennial

Philadelphia, Pa., cream ale, 4.3% ABV

“Just an awesome easy drinking beer. Originally brewed [as a] post-running libation, it works well in the heat.”