Coachella Valley’s 100-plus-degree thirsty season continues well into September, so there’s no better time than now to review new and returning classic summer craft beers that can quench our thirst—in the most delicious way possible.
Almanac Dogpatch Sour: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Sours are perfect for hot weather. They’re refreshing, brisk and—in the case of Almanac’s Dogpatch Sour—bright. This barrel-aged wild ale (above) is a hazy reddish-orange pucker bomb. Paying tribute to the Flanders red style, this complex and sophisticated beer offers notes of cherry, apple, candy, earthy funk and wine.
Ballast Point Fathom: Want the hop-smacking goodness of an IPA melded with the clean, bready notes of a lager? Here’s one of the best IPLs on the market. With the hop profiles of a West Coast IPA and lager yeast, this brew, with 7 percent alcohol by volume, offers tropical and easy-drinking goodness. Hints of grapefruit and citrus blend with honey and pine bitterness to create a hot-weather favorite.
Enegren Brewing Lagertha Pilsner: This refreshing, clean pils hails from Moorpark, Calif. Brewed with German pilsner malt and Saaz and Mosaic hops, it’s a perfect pils to sip during the summer season. Brewing a light beer with a perfectly balanced hop profile and clean yeast flavor isn’t easy, but Enegren does it wonderfully, with just a touch of funk.
Paradox Beer Company, Skully No. 25 (aka Salted Sumac Sour): I discovered thisat Stone’s Sour Fest, and it was in my top three at the festival. Skully No. 25 is a gorgeous sour golden ale brewed with sumac and sea salt, and aged in oak wine barrels. This unusually refreshing beer has lightly floral bright citrus and vivid acidic and salty notes, making it a savory summer beer. The sumac is a nice touch, giving the Skully No. 25 layers of flavors and lovely balance.
Sixpoint Jammer: This 4.2 percent ABV gose-style beer is balanced with citrus and made with hand-harvested sea salt from Netarts Bay, Ore. This hazy brew is a little tart, a little briny and a lot refreshing. It’s not your typical gose: With flavors of coriander, lemon pepper and sea salt, it’s well-balanced and drinkable. Fire up the barbecue, and grab a can of this sessionable beach beer.
21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon: This is summer in a can. The San Francisco brewpub starts by brewing a classic American wheat beer, and then puts it through a secondary fermentation using fresh watermelon. If you think watermelon won’t blend with well beer … think again. This is the quintessential summer beer, with the perfect amount of sugary sweetness—in other words, not too much. Pair the beer (pictured below) with a garden salad or a burger—or just good conversation.
Victory Summer Love Ale: German hops and pale malt blend beautifully into a flowery, hoppy blonde ale. Some grassy and earthy notes balance with light cracker and tropical-fruit (mango, orange, pear) flavors. Pair this with chicken, salads or pizza. Like other great summer seasonals, it’s available in 12-ounce cans for easy drinking.
Rogue Farms Honey Kölsch: This is a fantastic farm-to-glass beer: 119 colonies of local Oregon bees were fed; then the honey was uncapped, extracted, filtered and finally infused into this kölsch-style beer. The honey provides a natural sweetness and nicely balances with the malts. There’s a zesty citrus finish that cuts nicely through the honey, too.
Allagash White: Brewed with a generous portion of wheat and spiced with coriander and Curacao orange peel, this award-winning 5 percent ABV Belgian wheat beer is crisp, clove-y, fruity and spicy. Think banana, lemon and light malts. Whether or not you’re a wheat beer fan, this is a must-try, especially during warmer nights. It’s definitely one of the best wit beers on the market, and pairs perfectly with fish or a variety of cheeses.
Golden Road Hefeweizen: This is Los Angeles’ version of a Bavarian beer, brewed with locally grown organic citrus. The smell is full of yeast, with a hint of slightly bitter candy. After banana and clove notes, you’ll find tart citrus and a dry finish. Lemon is also present, offering a slight sourness. This is another canned summer beauty.
Odell Brewing St. Lupulin: This floral and earthy beer has characteristics of both an APA and an IPA. Available through September, this 6.5 percent ABV extra-pale ale is dry-hopped, giving it a clean, crisp finish. Caramel malts offer mild sugar notes, while a fruity bouquet of pineapple and melon shine through. This is another perfect summer brew.
SanTan Brewing Co. Mr. Pineapple: The brewery this year teamed up with Chiquita to use Rainforest Alliance certified pineapple juice to create a more-sustainable, socially conscious can of craft beer. The flavors include wheat malt, pears, bubblegum, pineapple and just the right amount of banana. It’s slightly dry with a juicy sweetness to balance.
Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin: This is one of my favorites year-round. Mango, lime zest, peach, apricot and, of course, grapefruit shine in this 7 percent ABV IPA. The perfect blend of hops shares the spotlight with the grapefruit for a citrusy yumminess that will not disappoint.