Anyone who's ever done a brunch-to-last-call marathon knows that day drinking requires walking a fine line. We're talking about the kind of beers that keep the party going minus the midafternoon nap or unnecessary early-evening leave of absence.
With barbecue and beach season upon us, mastering the art of sunup-to-sundown sessions is more important than ever. As the pros know, the secret weapon for prolonged drinking is low-ABV (alcohol by volume) beers under the 5.5 percent mark—and, no, we're not talking Miller Lite. This summer, stock the cooler with these five types of low-ABV brews, which will keep you going all day (and night) long.
Pilsner Urquell might be the most well-known bottle of this Bohemian-born beer, but there are loads of U.S. producers doing this laid-back drinking style right. Brooklyn's Sixpoint packages its Crisp in sleek, cooler-friendly 16-ounce cans, and Victory's Prima Pils incorporates hop flavor to add an edge into its easygoing brew.
For those looking for a bit more complexity without the boozy punch, Gose is the way to go. This sour beer has a bright, herbal edge with a pleasant salinity—imagine a thirst-quenching beer-y Gatorade. Gose hails from Leipzig, Germany, but American breweries have started producing the brews, using them as a jumping-off point to play with exotic fruit flavors. Westbrook Brewing Co. uses Key limes in its delightfully tart Key Lime Pie Gose, and Funky Buddha channels its inner Willy Wonka for its Veruca Snozzberry Gose—minus the magical fruits, of course.
This light and bubbly brew got its start in Cologne, Germany, where it has classically been served in miniature glasses set in a high-sided metal tray. While certain brewpubs in the States continue this tradition, it's an easy trick for home entertainers to emulate: Just pour the contents of Captain Lawrence Clearwater or Gaffel six-packs into a scattering of four-ounce juice glasses, and you've got one impressive spread.
These cloudy wheat beers are usually served in tall glasses and garnished with citrus wedges, making them perfect for warm-weather drinks. In the Bay Area and beyond, 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon has been a summer hit for the past few seasons, while Clown Shoes' Clementine White brings in the citrus and aromatics by way of clementine, sweet orange peel and coriander.
This refreshing, low-alcohol combo of beer and fruit juice or lemonade originated in Germany, and was designed to keep bikers hydrated while navigating the Bavarian Alps or bustling streets of Berlin (radler means "cyclist" in German). Austrian producer Stiegl's Radler is a bracing version with tart grapefruit, and Missouri's Boulevard has a Lemon Ginger Radler that balances sharp citrus with just a bit of heat.