Tasting and Ranking 58 of the Best Summer Beers

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In recent months, Paste’s style tastings and rankings have focused more tightly onto specific, well-defined styles: American saisons. American wheat beers. American porters. This is not that tasting.

In terms of “seasonal” beer, summer and fall are probably the two biggest seasons, but fall can only be mentioned in the same breath because of Octoberfest and pumpkin offerings, which dominate the craft beer marketplace from Sept-Nov. Summer, on the other hand, is much more open and less defined in the styles produced by the beer industry. On one hand, this is pretty exciting: Just about anything can be a summer seasonal. On the other hand, it made us a little wary in how we were going to taste and rank a huge pool of potential summer seasonals.

What we decided was to be as inclusive as possible—let the breweries decide what makes a good “summer beer,” and then simply see if we agree with them. And what we ended up with was an incredible array of things to taste. Blonde ales. Pale ales. IPAs and DIPAs. Wheat beers. Fruit beers. Spice beers. We tasted them all, with only a few rules.

Rules and Details

  • Entries must be a summer seasonal, which is to say only available in summer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a great beer to drink during summer, if it’s available year-round, then it’s not included. When you leave a comment to complain about a beer being left off, it would really help us if you at least considered the possibility that it might not be a summer seasonal.

  • Pretty much all beer styles were included except for sours. We’ve received a variety of Berliner weisses, gose’s and American wild ales, but we’ll be doing upcoming tastings that are exclusively for tart beers.

  • Tasters include beer writers and brewery owners. Superior (finally Paste-branded!) glassware is from Spiegelau.

  • Beers were judged by how exemplary they were in their own style, and given 1-100 scores.

The Field: Beers #58-26

As always, there are plenty of great beers here in the field that simply couldn’t make the top 25. Some of them were styles that were simply done better by other beers on the list—if your brewery makes a fruit beer, but it’s the third or fourth best featuring that fruit in our tasting, then it’s probably not going to make the top of the field. A few of these beers had technical issues, but the majority of them are brews that we’d happily reach for on a hot summer day. They’re listed below in alphabetical order so you’ll know what we sampled. They are not ranked. Repeat, these are not ranked.

Alaskan Brewing Co. Raspberry Wheat
Aspen Brewing Co. This Season’s Blonde
Breckenridge Brewery SummerBright Ale
Bridgeport Stumptown Tart
Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale
DuClaw Brewing Co. Funk
DuClaw Brewing Co. Morgazm
4 Hands Brewing Co. Send Help
4 Hands Brewing Co. Contact High
Foothills Brewing Co. Hopjob Session IPA
Full Sail Session Cream Ale
Geary’s Summer Ale
Gordon Biersch Sommerbrau
Half Acre Beer Co. Vallejo IPA
Harpoon Summer Ale
Hi-Wire Brewing Uprising Hefeweizen
Hop Concept Citrus & Piney
Lake Placid Pub & Brewery Around the Bend Pale Ale
Lucky Bucket Brewing Bellyflop
Sam Adams Porch Rocker
Sam Adams Summer Ale
SanTan Brewing Co. Mr. Pineapple
Saranac Summer Pils
Second Self Brewing Co. Summer IPA
Short’s Brewing Co. Nicie Spicie
Shiner Prickly Pear
Ska Brewing Mexican Logger
Southern Tier Hopsun
Southern Tier Tangier Session IPA
Sun King Brewing Indians Lager
Summit Brewing Co. Summer Ale
Uinta Brewing Sum’r
Upland Brewing Co. Campside Session IPA

Next: #’s 25-1, a winner is crowned

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