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Ale Sharpton's Summer Beer Picks

26 May 2015

By Ale Sharpton

Every summer, craft breweries nationwide strategically craft ales and lagers that are crisp, refreshing, and typically low in alcohol—tiptoeing around five percent alcohol by volume (ABV) and lower. They do this to get drinkers to consume responsibly with beers that will keep them from getting inebriated as quickly as more potent beers.

Despite this, I tend to grab maltier, more complex and overall stronger beers in the summer, including double India Pale Ales like the Cosmic Debris by Creature Comforts, Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum and Founders’ Double Trouble available in June. And don’t get me started on the silky, smooth and thick ales like Three Taverns’ Barrel Aged Departed Spirit Imperial Stout, Red Brick Bourbon Barrel Aged Bearded Envy Barleywine and the revered, habanero-infused Westbrook Mexican Cake Imperial Stout which collectively get my mouth watering at mere mention.

Regardless, there are some fantastic summer ales and lagers on tap, in bottles and in the increasingly popular cans that will appeal to everyone. These are a few of the Ale-approved summer beers on my list.

Summer ales are on tap throughout the city. Photo by Ale Sharpton

Summer ales are on tap throughout the city. Photo by Ale Sharpton

Happy sippin’!

Emergency Drinking Beer
Wild Heaven
Decatur, Georgia
4% ABV
In case of “emergency,” grab this pilsner-style delight that just landed from Decatur, Georgia-based favorite Wild Heaven. It’s infused with grapefruit zest, lemongrass, and—get this—Portuguese sea salt, resulting in a wondrous concoction presented in hip yellow cans.

SweetWater Brewing Company
Atlanta, Georgia
6% ABV
Drinking a locally produced hefeweizen boasting notes of banana and clove at six percent for a good cause? Sold! Now canned, this tasty sipper donates proceeds to preserve natural waterways including the Chattahoochee River thanks to SweetWater’s Save Our Water campaign.

Thai Wheat
Second Self Beer Company
Atlanta, Georgia
5.1% ABV
Showing love to the local scene, Second Self’s Thai Wheat refreshes palates with a combo of ginger root, lemongrass and German hops—Saaz and Hallertau—to balance out the overall pleasant spiciness of this American wheat ale. It works! 

Maggie’s Peach Farmhouse Ale
Terrapin Beer Company
Athens, Georgia
5.3% ABV
Think a liquid peach pie but much lighter and guiltless. This saison is brewed with real, fresh peaches picked by Grandma herself! (At least imagine it.)

What's on tap at TAPS Craft Beer Store by Ale Sharpton

What’s on tap at TAPS Craft Beer Store by Ale Sharpton

Summer Solstice
Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Boonville, California
5% ABV
This beer is perfect for those folks who twist their face up and exclaim, “I don’t like beer!” The Solstice really reminds you of a tasty cream soda with a little punch of alcohol to warrant your ID.

Not Your Father’s Root Beer
Small Town Brewery
Wauconda Illinois
5.9% ABV
That’s right, you read it correctly. This is a root beer that truly justifies its name, but still gives A&W a run for their money in the flavor category. For every beer naysayer, make them a believer with this one. Just make sure you don’t mistakenly give the kids a bottle!

Hell Or High Watermelon Wheat Beer
21st Amendment Brewery
San Francisco, California
4.9% ABV
A wheat beer infused with a subtle, yet refreshing hint of pure watermelon juice served in cans. This spells summertime every year!

A Sneak Peek: Boulevard Brewing Company has a “radler” coming to town soon as well. Stylistically, it is a cross of a lager (traditionally) and lemonade standing around four percent ABV. Knowing their history, anything Boulevard does is gangster—err—phenomenal!

Photo of Dennis Malcom Byron aka Ale Sharpton

Ale Sharpton Photo by Hannibal Matthews

Dennis Malcolm Byron aka Ale Sharpton is a world-renowned beer authority, award-winning journalist, blogger (AleSharpton.com), photographer event planner, show host (Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’ and gourmand. He is also co-founder of the creative agency AllWays Open. He proudly resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow him on Twitter @alesharpton and Instagram @realalesharpton.