Barrel to Bottle: Crushable Summer Beers

Cue the Meatballs theme song…are you ready for the summer? It’s a Roger episode, specifically summer beers. And while it’s still spring, we record this episode when it’s swelteringly hot. Seasonality means almost nothing in beer now, which means we have summer beers already (and we’ll have Oktoberfest beers in July).

Summer beers should be-as a guest once said- “CRUSHABLE”. That means they’re very drinkable, which is probably why breweries love summer beers so much. After sneaking in an 8.5% hard cider during last year’s Summer Beer episode, Roger understood the assignment this year. Some of these beers are seasonal offerings, while some of them are year-round beers that fit the general idea of an easy-drinking beer that you want to load into a cooler and drink very cold.

We’re starting today with one of the most iconic summer beers, Brooklyn Summer Ale. A lot of summer beers have fruit in them, so Brooklyn Summer Ale is an outlier. It’s also a bit of an odd duck because the style is nebulous. When Garrett Oliver visited the Barrel to Bottle podcast studios, he revealed that the beer started as a dry-hopped version of an obscure British style called a Light Dinner Ale. 

Speaking of Garrett Oliver, the next beer is one of his favorites and something he calls “the Swiss Army Knife” of food and beer pairings. And now it’s in cans, furthering its crushability. Saison Dupont is THE iconic Saison. It’s literally a beer brewed for summer, and you can hear more about it on what feels like twelve different episodes of Barrel to Bottle, but our Saison episode.

Off Color is a brewery known for making esoteric beers and unfortunately, they sometimes went a little unnoticed in Chicago. Things really took off with their “Beer For” series that started with Beer For Tacos. Today, we’re trying Beer For Golf, an homage to the Arnold Palmer/John Daly. They took a Belgian wit and then added lemon in various forms, plus black tea.

We’re sticking with wheat beers and one we sell a ton of every summer: 21st Amendment’s Hell Or High Watermelon. This beer is not red, because it’s made with real watermelon and not flavoring. It also has more of a watermelon rind flavor, which is very similar to cucumber. If you want to flavor blast it yourself, we recommend either a coarse salt rim on your glass or even better, Barrel to Bottle favorite Tajin.

Bell’s Oberon is arguably the most iconic summer beer. For several years, they’ve been riffing on Oberon at the Eccentric Café in Kalamazoo. Recently they released Tropical Oberon with mango, guava, and passionfruit. It’s very close to Roger’s favorite POG, and this could probably use some orange juice over the mango. It’s very mango forward.

Next up, a classic Midwest brewery with their take on the modern hazy movement. Great Lakes Brewing’s Tropicoastal is loaded with interesting hops that evoke tropical flavors without any fruit flavors added. It’s right in the middle of fruity/juicy/hazy and a bitter IPA with some spine.

Shandies have been hugely popular summer beers for a while now and Goose Island finally threw their hat into the ring last summer with 312 Lemonade Shandy. Traditional shandies and radlers are a mix of beer and soda and are usually on the very low end of the ABV scale. Most shandies now are Americanized and more like beer and lemonade. Goose’s shandy evokes the classic summer treat of Italian ice perfectly.

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