After water and tea, beer is the third most popular drink in the world. This should not be surprising, as beer is also one of the most complex and varied of drinks. It can taste like lemons or smoke, coffee or coconuts, bananas or bread, chilies or ginger. Beer can be crisply acidic and earthy, or it can be bracingly bitter and spectacularly aromatic. Whatever style you prefer, this list of easy-drinking beer varieties will keep you refreshed all summer long. Find more great candidates for a perfect summer brew referenced in The Oxford Companion to Beer.
- India pale ale (IPA) is a beer style characterised by high levels of alcohol and hops. It gained its name thanks to its huge popularity in British India and other outposts of the British Empire throughout the 19th century, a result of its keeping abilities on long sea voyages and its refreshing character when it finally reached its destination.
- radlermass (translated: “cyclist’s liter”; “mass” is an old Bavarian word for “liter”) is a mixed beer based drink with a long history in German-speaking regions. It consists of a 50/50 mixture of various types of beer and German-style clear lemonade. Radlermass is the Bravarian equivalent of the British shandy (which is also a mixture of beer and lemonade, or, less often, ginger beer). During summer months, radler is very popular because of its reputation for being a perfect thirst-quencher – a result of its harmony in sweet-bitter and sour taste.
- pilsner (or pilsener or pils) is a pale, golden lager, originally from the Czech Republic. It revolutionised the brewing world when it first appeared, thanks to its seductive golden glow and crisp, refreshing taste. And thanks to an oversight that meant neither the name nor the recipe was patented, it was quickly imitated around the world. Today, for most beer drinkers, pilsner is simply synonymous with lager.
- saisons, generally speaking, are exceptionally dry, highly carbonated, and fruity ales of average to moderate alcohol strength. Saison ales can be traced to farmhouse breweries where the practical goals in brewing Saisons were threefold: to refresh the seasonal workers in summer, to make work for the full-time farm workers during the winter, and to produce spent grain, which is served as quality feed for the livestock in the winter. Beer was therefore brewed in one season, winter, to be drunk in another, summer.
- berliner weisse is a beer style originating from the region around Berlin, Germany, which developed gradually from the 17th to the 20th Its main characteristic is a mild sourness and tartness with a light and fruity character, which led to the nickname “Champagne of the North”.
Do you have a favourite summertime beer? Let us know by posting a comment below.
The Oxford Companion to Beer is the most comprehensive reference book ever published on the subject of the world’s most popular and diverse fermented beverage. Brewmaster and author Garrett Oliver has collected the vast knowledge and research of more than 165 beer experts from more than twenty countries.