Memorial Day has passed, so summer is officially in session. There is a lot to love about summer: time by the pool, vacation, BBQs, baseball, and the sound of cicadas.
Yardwork and the associated “lawnmower beer” are not my favorite parts of summer. Too often, light, watery lagers are consumed on hot summer days. We can do better.
The best summer beers are flavorful, low in ABV and in my opinion need to be light and crisp, no overwhelming malt or hops flavors.
There is nothing wrong with a good rich dark beer, but that’s not what most want on 100 degree Savannah day. Another summer factor is availability in cans -- no one wants broken glass in their pool.
This is a list of a good variety of summer time beers. Each is very different, so hopefully you’ll find something to drink while sitting by the pool, at the beach or after some time doing yardwork.
The Locals: Given the intensity of Savannah summers it should come as no surprise that all four of the local breweries have at least one beer that will be a thirst quencher during that Savannah heat.
Gun Bunny, Service Brewing
Belgian Style Witbier, 5.1% ABV
Dedicated to the men and women who reload artillery on the battlefield, Gun Bunny is a Belgian-style witbier. Brewed with Indian coriander, tangelo peel and muddled mandarin oranges, Gun Bunny is a refreshing but flavorful summer option. Now available in sharp looking cans, Service Brewing has made this summer seasonal very accessible this year.
Honorable mention to Service’s Savannah Banana beer Savannah Bananas Cerveza. This summer’s edition is not brewed with bananas but is a Mexican style lager. Light, crisp and refreshing but flavorful in ways the other lawnmower beers dream about. Available in cans and on draft at Grayson Stadium.
Coco Pina, Coastal Empire Brewing
German Style Gose, 3.8% ABV
Coastal took a traditional German Gose, brewed with pink Himalayan salts and Atlantic Sea salt then added pineapple and coconut to make a fantastic beach side beer. Coco Pina is fruity and tart enough to make any hot day feel cooler but low enough in ABV to keep your yardwork moving forward. Coco Pina was first brewed as a one-off but is now part of the Coastal year round line up. Also available in cans.
Scattered Sun Belgian Wit, Southbound Brewing
Belgian Wit, 5.2% ABV
Available year round, Southbound’s take on a Belgian Wit is a bit more traditional. Brewed with coriander and citrus peel it yields a tart lemony nose with a touch of coriander and a variety of citrus flavors, pepper and wheat on the taste. A solid take on a classic summer time beer style.
Honorable mention to Southbound’s summer seasonal, Transilience, a 7.0% Berliner Weise. Brewed with mango and pomegranate to give a nice fruity flavor but fermented with Lactobacillus and saccharomyces which add low level acidity and tartness. A mighty fine thirst quencher on a hot day. Both Transilience and Scattered Sun are available in cans.
Wild Wacky Wit, Moon River
Belgian Wit, 4.1% ABV
Wit beers are just the best on a summer day, so you shouldn’t be surprised to see another entry on this list. Moon River’s version of the Belgian Wit is also spiced with coriander, as most wits are, but the citrus part of the spicing is traditional Curacao bitter orange peel. The 2017 Great American Beer Festival winner for Best Belgian Wit, Wild Wacky Wit is sure to satisfy. Available on draft and in growlers at Moon River.
While I think you should go local first, if you do want to expand beyond the Savannah area here are a few other options to give a try.
Oberon Ale, Bell’s Brewery, Inc.
American Pale Wheat Ale, 5.8%
This is another beer with a high malted wheat content. It’s also brewed with Bell’s signature ale yeast yielding Oberon’s citrusy flavor. I’m not one for fruity flavors but the fruit here is subtle and just makes a lot of sense. It pushes the range of a sessionable beer at 5.8% and has a stronger flavor than some on this list but it’s a great go to summer beer.
Summer Solstice, Anderson Valley
Cream Ale, 5%
Cream ales can sometimes be too sweet, but Summer Solstice hits a nice balance.
Summer Ale, Brooklyn Brewery
English Pale Ale, 5%
Brooklyn’s Summer Ale is light and crisp with no overbearing flavors. It has a light citrus flavor balanced out by a touch of bready yeast.