A Beer Expert Says These Are The Brews You Should Reach For This Summer

Every season may have its beers, but no time of year goes better with a cold, refreshing brew than summer does. Long, hot summer evenings and barbecues were made for the easygoing, sit-back-and-crack-it-open vibes of a good beer. Yet the ever-expanding number of beer styles and brands means getting your summer refreshment isn't quite as straightforward as it used to be. You want something that's not just light and refreshing, but smooth and drinkable, and not every type of beer can fulfill all those requirements. That's why Tasting Table reached out to Jessie Massie, head chef at the Sierra Nevada Taproom in Mills River, North Carolina, for her recommendation on what beers pair best with summer.

Massie's first thought for something with the right mix of flavor and refreshment is a hazy IPA like Sierra Nevada's Hazy Little Thing, which she says is "relatively low in bitterness, has a nice mouthfeel and pleasant notes of tropical fruit." Despite IPA's reputation as a drink for hardcore beer fans, Massie sees the hazy iterations as much more accessible options that lots of people can enjoy. Her other recommendation is a classic American pale ale, including the flagship Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Massie calls pale ales "balanced beers that can work for almost any grilled food pairing." Often overlooked in favor of IPAs or pilsners, pale ales hit a nice sweet spot between hoppy and easy-drinking that's great for hot weather.

Hazy IPAs and pale ales are two great beer styles for summer

Hazy IPAs are still relatively new on the craft beer scene, but they've become a huge hit for a lot of the same reasons they are such a nice summer treat. Also called "juicy," or New England IPAs, hazy IPAs cut back on the hoppy flavors of traditional IPAs and really dial up the fruit factor. Despite not usually being made with actual fruit, the tasting notes derived from the beer style's unique brewing process are strong with orange juice, pineapple, mango, and other warm weather favorites. The mixture of big flavor, light sweetness, and just enough bitterness makes a hazy IPA bright and thirst-quenching, perfect for washing down a burger or relaxing poolside. Some nationally available beers that are a great entry point for the style include Lagunitas Hazy Wonder, Bell's Official, and Sam Adams' Wicked Hazy.

Pale ales have been overshadowed by their hopped-up relatives, and other trendier styles, but that's a shame because brands like Dale's Pale Ale helped birth the craft beer movement in the U.S. by offering a more flavorful beer than popular macrobrews while still being accessible. American pale ales emphasize hops over malt, but are not as bitter as IPAs. They are generally light and crisp, with some citrus flavors and herbal notes from the hops, while not being as fruity as hazy IPAs. Beside the aforementioned pioneer, Half Acre Daisy Cutter and Firestone Walker Pale 31 are widely available.