15 Best Beer Styles For Summer

There are few things that beat the heat better than an ice-cold beer. While beers like porters, stouts, and other dark beers bring warmth and comfort in the winter months, there are beers that cater better to the summertime. These beers are light, crisp, bursting with bright, moderate hops, have subtle malt, and are effortless to drink. Essentially, when the sun is bearing down this summer, you want a beer that lifts you up, not one that weighs you down.

Furthermore, every beer drinker has their tried-and-true personal favorites, the beers they go back to over and over because of their reliability. It is important to remember, though, that there are countless styles of beer out there to discover, and while timeless classics may be a mainstay in your refrigerator throughout the summer, expanding your beer palate in addition to keeping cool is well within grasp. So, here are some beer styles to keep an eye out for this summer when you become tired of the same old thing.

Light beer

There is something about the simplicity, drinkability, and reliability of macro-American light beer that keeps its place in drinking culture solidified and unwaning. Brands such as Budweiser and Coors can be found at virtually any bar in the country, but when summertime rolls around, it's the lighter versions of these types of beer that are actually more practical. In fact, putting seasonal functionality aside, the category is far and away America's most consumed beer style.

Beers like Miller Lite, Michelob Ultra, and countless others simply differ from their more robust, fuller-bodied counterparts based on alcohol content and calorie count. For example, a 12-ounce bottle of Budweiser contains 145 calories and has an ABV of 5%. The same-sized bottle of Bud Light has just 110 calories and is 4.2% alcohol.

Many often dismiss light beers because of misconceptions that they are too passive in flavor and taste watered-down, but when the sun is beating down on a summer afternoon and its time to chill out with a beer or two, the light beer will always be a reliable, consistent, and inexpensive option.

Session IPA

In the wake of the ongoing craft beer boom, the India pale ale has grown to include so many different sub-styles within the category. Generally, IPAs are full-bodied, hop-forward beers with higher alcohol contents, usually over 6%. If you like the bold and intensely flavorful character of IPAs, there is no reason why you should not continue to enjoy them throughout the summer, and you can do just that with a session IPA.

Essentially, the term "session" when referring to IPAs simply means that the beer has a lower ABV, and it can be attributed to both West Coast or New England styles. The alcohol content of session IPAs is usually between 3% and 5%. However, this lower ABV does not sacrifice anything in the flavor department.

A well-crafted session IPA will still give you bright and floral hop aromas and flavors, which are particularly complimented by summertime weather. There are even summer-inspired sessions IPAs that hit the shelves annually, such as Lagunitas Day Time IPA or the Super Session by Lawson's Finest Liquids, both of which are a great balance between easy-drinking and hop-emphasis.

New England IPA

If you can't seem to shake your craving for the punch of a full-bodied IPA this summer, a hazy, juicy, New England-style IPA is the best way to go. The New England IPA is the more recently popularized version of the beer category, only becoming popular within the current century after the translucent, piney, drier West Coast IPAs ignited the craft beer movement.

New England IPAs stand apart from their west coast counterparts because they are non-filtered. This is what creates their hazy appearance and fuller body. In terms of flavor profiles, these IPAs are fruitier and juicier and are often made with milder hops. The range of New England IPAs can reach close to 12% ABV when made as double, or imperial, IPAs.

What makes New England IPAs especially great for the summertime is their tropical flavor notes and smoother palatability. Even in IPAs with alcohol contents over 8%, you would be surprised at how drinkable they remain, which can certainly be dangerous, but in a good way.


Hefeweizens are a traditional German beer style that is one of the best for the summer season. While there are many German beers that are medium-bodied lagers or toasty schwarzbiers, the hefeweizen is crisp, citrusy, and smooth.

The words "hefe" and "weizen" translate to "yeast" and "wheat" in German. This is directly represented in the beer style's appearance and flavor, which is cloudy with a thick creamy head. The yeast used to brew hefeweizens is a specific type of yeast, which contributes to the spicy and peppery flavor notes. Unlike other similar beer styles, most of the character in Hefeweizens comes only from a special yeast strain.

Like many German beers, hefeweizens date back centuries. What sets hefeweizens apart from others though is that hefeweizens were exceptions to the Reinheitsgebot, or Bavarian Purity Law. This set of regulations, which is still enforced today, restrict the ingredients that go into brewing as water, yeast, barley, and hops. Technically, wheat and barley are two different things, so hefeweizens truly are unique and a very deserving exception.


Helles lagers are the German version of American light beer, but where many people discourage light beers for lacking flavor or depth, Helles give you the full character of a German lager simply on a lighter scale. The word "helles" essentially translates to "pale" in German. Helles are made with a slightly sweeter malt than most that are subtle in taste and broadened and rounded by mildly bitter, floral hops.

Even though Helles lagers are essentially German-style light beers, there is nothing about a Helles lager that sacrifices flavor, hops, or satisfaction. This is what makes helles lagers so great for summertime. They are smooth but are still very flavorful and well-crafted (depending on the producer, of course). They are the perfect beer to have with a meal because of their light body and balanced profile.

Even if you are tired of having the same traditional pilsners over and over, Helles lagers provide a new, more complex alternative. Helles lagers are such a pleasure to drink that you may even be able to fill a whole Das Boot's worth.


The Kölsch is another traditional German beer that combines the ale and lager categories together to accomplish the best of both worlds. The two aspects that separate lagers and ales from one another are the type of yeast used for fermentation and the temperature at which it is fermented and conditioned. To make a Kölsch, these parameters are fused together to make a hybrid beer that is smooth and rich like an ale yet crisp and light like a lager.

Technically, authentic Kölsch beers must be produced close to the city of Cologne, Germany in order to qualify, but the Kölsch has become a very popular style within the American craft beer scene. Even if you are not drinking a "real" Kölsch beer, you can certainly indulge in the many characteristics that make this beer great.

Kölsch beers are quite similar in taste and body to a basic pilsner or a Helles, but they are actually even smoother and more approachable. They are great beers for beer novices as their delicate character makes them very thirst-quenching, easily palatable, and a great beer to enjoy with a meal. As the ensuing hot weather calls for casual, leisurely beer drinking, finding a good Kölsch this summer will give you exactly that.

Berliner Weisse

Berliner Weisse beers are the perfect beer style to bring a little something extra to your summer beer drinking. When regular, classic-tasting, run-of-the-mill beers begin to get worn out as the season rolls on, the Berliner Weisse incorporates fruit flavorings and experimental expressions. Berliner Weisse beers are tart in flavor, have low alcohol content, and can showcase pretty much any kind of fruit the brewer wants. Berry-flavored versions of these beers are the most common, but the beer style has grown in popularity in the U.S. and the possibilities have become endless.

Whichever Berliner Weisse you find yourself sipping on to seek refuge from the heat, the vibrance and crushable nature of these beers give you everything you love about the foundation of traditional German beers combined with the added depth of fresh fruitiness. The fruit character in Berliner Weisse is not one that will weigh you down though, as the residual sugars in them are very low. So, there is definitely more tartness than sweetness, a natural beneficiary of keeping cool on a hot day.

Mexican Clara

The category of Mexican lagers really encompasses many different beer styles, but the most common one and the one that is best fit for summer is a Clara, or pale lager. Generally, Claras have a very light body and a sharp, crisp finish. This is because most them are made with corn in their mash, particularly flaked maize. Using corn is not only less expensive, but it also makes for a distinct flavor.

Most Mexican Clara lagers are made with pilsner malt, which is an ever-reliable and familiar foundation for any beer. The smooth malt is the perfect compliment to the corn mash, a combination that makes for a flavorful, and ultra-crisp beer. When served ice cold, there may be no other beer that hits the spot better, especially on a hot day.

The most popular and widely accessible Mexican Clara is Pacifico, a beer brand that is sold in both bottles and cans in a variety of sizes. If you have never had an authentic cerveza before, Pacifico is the perfect place to start.

Italian pilsner

Pilsners are a Czech beer style that gets their name from the town of Pilsen, where the malt is grown to brew these beers. Czech-style pilsners are more robust and malt-forward than other renditions of the style, such as the German pils, which is more hoppy and sharp, or the macro-produced American pilsners. The Italian take on the pilsner, though, is especially delightful and contains the best characteristics of all the other versions of the beer style.

What sets Italian pilsners apart from others is that they are dry-hopped, a brewing method that contributes to a sharper, crisper, and bolder hop profile. However, Italian pilsners remain crystal clear, light-bodied, and very smooth. Italian pilsners are most comparable to the German-style pilsner with their greater presence of hops and drier taste, but the maltiness in them is not overpowered, retaining a subtle support system through every sip.

Peroni is the most common Italian pilsner on the market and is widely available, and Birra Morreti is another great expression. Whichever one you go for, the Italian pilsner can be your companion during pizza nights, pasta dinners, and any form of relaxation throughout the summer months.


The saison is a very broad category of beer that contains a lot of variety, but what is generally true about saisons is that they are one of the most inviting styles of beer and are great for both well-versed and novice beer drinkers alike. Saisons, also commonly known as farmhouse ales, originated in Belgium and they typically have a high amount of carbonation. This instantly makes them great for summer time and their light to medium body and moderate ABV does so as well.

The open-endedness and experimental nature of the saison has inspired many different takes on the beer style, such as higher alcohol content, fruit flavorings, and even mixed culture saisons. Basically, there are no two saisons exactly alike, which is why your summer ought to be filled with them.

No matter what saisons you find at your local liquor store, you can expect it to be crisp, refreshing, and to have a familiar, yet complex profile. Again, some saisons are milder than others, but the art of the farmhouse ale translates to quenching, quaffable, and always gratifying.


The witbier is another Belgian-born beer style that can best be described as a Belgian version of a hefeweizen. Witbiers are also made with wheat in their mash and are also unfiltered, which is what gives them their cloudy look and frothy head. The word "witbier" simply translates to "white beer," but this beer is not to be confused with a blonde ale.

Witbiers are especially unique because they are spiced with coriander and orange peel. This bright citrusy profile is what makes witbiers so delectable in the summertime and often served with an orange slice when ordered in bars and restaurants. The most popular and commonly found witbier is Blue Moon, a very standard and classic expression of the beer style, while Allagash White and Shock Top are other commonly found and highly regarded witbiers.

Truthfully, witbiers really do not have much of a function outside of warm weather. Their rich orange flavor and complimentary spice make these beers shine ultra bright in the summer, unlike any other style. This is another beer style that will satisfy both beer experts and beginners, as its refreshing nature simply can't be beaten.


Lambic beers are one of the most traditional styles of beer in existence. This is because these beers are fermented naturally and are not made with any specific, carefully-added yeast strain. Instead, after the wort is cooked, it is left uncovered to accumulate the natural bacteria from its surrounding environment to ferment. Although this makes it difficult to replicate the same results, what can be expected is a beer entirely unique and truly one-of-a-kind.

Natural fermentation makes lambics sour and funky in the best way possible, which is what also makes lambics another great vehicle for fresh fruit additives. Fruited lambics remain pleasantly tart after taking on the flavor and aromas of whatever fruit is added, which is typically cherry or raspberry to make kriek and framboise lambics, respectively.

Another popular version of lambics is beers called geuezes, which are made by combining older lambic batches with newer ones. The old batches that go into geuezes can be aged for up to three years, which makes for a super complex and harmonious balanced brew once the highly carbonated, fresh batches are added to the mix.


Gose beers are another centuries-old beer style that is very tart and sharp. Goses get its name from the town of Goslar in Germany, where it originated. Water from the Gose River was used to make the original Gose beers, which is where the salinity synonymous with the beer style originally came from. Even after gose brewing became popularized in the city of Leipzig, the addition of salt remained, and gose beers became one of the few exemptions of the Bavarian Purity Law.

Gose beers are made with malted wheat and are spiced with coriander much like witbiers, but the sourness from the natural fermentation and the addition of salt give goses a very specific profile. Goses are most comparable to Berliner Weisse beers, as they are often flavored with fruit but, again, their acidity and salinity really make them stand out. Unlike many modern sour beers, goses carry a light body that carries their intense flavor and usually has an ABV below 5%. If you like regular sour ales, finding a gose this summer is an absolute must.

Blonde Ale

Blonde ales, also commonly known as golden ales, are one of the most straightforward and inviting beer styles out there. This is a distinctly American beer style and can actually be fermented with ale yeast or lager yeast as well as flavored with spices, fruits, and other additives. Blonde ales can be found in a wide variety depending on the producer, but can always be relied on to be a simple, smooth-sipping pleasure of refreshment.

Because blonde ales are an American category of beer, countless brands produce and distribute their own versions of the style, so finding one in liquor stores this summer will be a piece of cake compared to European beers that are more popular abroad. Some easy-to-find and delicious blonde ales on the market are Victory Brewing's Summer Love as well as Hawaiian born and inspired Big Wave by Kona Brewing Co. These are two very standard and fundamental expressions of blonde, or golden, ales and ones that are uncomplicated in the best way possible.

Smoothie Sour

The smoothie sour beer style is not quite what it sounds like. Smoothie sours are not the same as the occasional frozen beer slushies that pop up on brewery tap lists once in a while. Instead, they're more like a cross between a fruited sour and a milkshake IPA. In other words, it's both a beer that naturally caters to summertime heat and the perfect boozy treat to beat it.

What gives these beers their smoothie-like qualities comes mainly from the addition of lactose, giving the beer its thickness and creaminess. From there, a smoothie sour can really be flavored with anything, but they are most commonly flavored with fruit purees or other fresh fruits. Smoothie sours typically have a standard alcohol content, making them as delectable and pleasing as they sound.

It is true that smoothie sours are completely unconventional and barely resemble what is commonly considered and recognized as beer. Regardless, the smoothie sour is making a name for itself across the craft beer scene and there is no better time to enjoy one of these eclectic brews than on a hot summer day.