We don’t know if facial hair is a prerequisite for being a certified beer server, but it can’t hurt. What beer should we pack the cooler with for our next cookout? Well, for that answer, we turned to one of our beer experts (facial hair included), Jon Richards, Cicerone Certified Beer Server at The Greenville Growler Station in Greenville, South Carolina.
Here are his picks for summer. Fill a cooler with ice, and don’t forget the bottle opener:
- RJ Rockers Son of a Peach / This beer uses “real angry peaches,” as they say at the brewery, and carries an unmistakable, but not overpowering, peach aroma and flavor. Quick with the sweetness, the wheat takes over and gives the beer a smooth, but dry finish leaving your palate craving that note of peach after every sip. This beer was so popular that it became a year round product for the brewery in 2013.
- 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon / This is one of the greatest fruit beers I’ve ever tasted. Using a secondary fermentation to introduce the watermelon creates a balance of flavor rarely equaled. It’s a wheat beer first, but the watermelon rides underneath and shines in the finish, leaving you with an acidic little bite and the sweet flavor of the fruit.
- Carolina Sky Blue Kolsch / An ale fermentation that undergoes a long cold aging period like a lager, so it gets super smooth, clean, light, and straightforward. The light spicy floral aroma of Hallertau hops start you off and give way to a very light, bready, malty body. Drink in quantity on a hot summer day.
- Bell’s Oberon / A wheat beer, and like all Bell’s beer, unfiltered. But this beer is clean. Hops lend a gentle spiciness and a light orangey fruitiness to the beer and clean up the delicate malty sweetness on the end like a champ. For those of you still with a big name American macro-brew in your hand because you think it’s too hot outside for craft, I dare you to make the switch with this one.
- Thomas Creek Stillwater Cream Ale / A light bodied American cream ale, with just a hint of vanilla sweetness from Tahitian and Madagascar bourbon vanilla. It’s as refreshing as they come.
- Terrapin Mosaic / A beer very much a hybrid-style, it’s a rye based, red, pale ale. The spiciness from the rye and hops is right up front along with a caramel-ly and bready sweetness. Any bitterness is resolved in the finish, which is a light mélange of citrus that’s still sweet, but tart enough to give your tongue a little pucker.
- Hi-Wire Man Eater / Man Eater uses the brewery’s entire year’s allotment of Citra and Amarillo hops to create an arrestingly hoppy beer. Tons of citrus and tropical fruit rightup front are the showcase, but a delicate toffee sweet maltiness keeps the bitterness at bay, and the finish is so spicy, sharp, and dry as to almost be sour on the tongue.
- Quest Ponce Saison / Saison, of course, is already a great summer beer; add some extra- summery ingredients like cucumber and jalapeño, and you get magic. Your first whiff smells like a jar of jalapeños, but don’t be misled: the taste has the refreshing juiciness of cucumber in full display, and the peppers add a pleasant dry spiciness to the earthy finish. This one is already a limited release, but a beer worth looking for.
- Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale / This is a year-round release, but it practically screams summer. It’s another wheat beer, but this time hopped up to the level of
IPA. Experienced craft drinkers are going to note the unmistakable wheat malt richness, but everyone one else is going revel in the bright citrusy hoppiness, crisp bitterness and spicy finish of an IPA.
- Stone Old Guardian / Now for something completely different. Who said all summer beers have to be the same? It’s not refreshing, light bodied, fruity, or really anything else summery, but it still comes out in spring. Don’t let yourself be put in a box. And just try to wait for winter to drink it.