Summer can be the least interesting season for beer drinkers with its sea of watery wheat beers infused with some unholy industrial fruit extract. Luckily, plenty of brewers embrace the season and take on the challenge of producing a lighter, more drinkable style.
For the most part these beers are around 5 percent alcohol-by-volume or lower. Double IPAs and Imperial Stouts are not built for day-in-the sun consumption. You don’t want your beer seriously dehydrating you while enjoying a day at the beach.
And you might want to get it in cans, which are becoming a staple in the world of good beer. They block out UV light exposure (skunky beer), are easy and safe to pack in a cooler, and recyclable.
Local brewers have made a specialty of drinkable beers designed for the sunny coastal life. COAST 32/50 Kolsch (arguably the best Kolsch made in the States), crisp Holy City Pilsner, and Westbrook White Thai are all perfect for a day on the boat. And Palmetto recently updated their recipe for their pale ale, giving it a fresh hoppy aroma and snappy bitterness.
As for some other breweries doing it right, here’s a mixed six-pack to consider for your next boat trip.
Southern Star Bombshell Blonde
5.25 percent abv.
This small Texas brewery has recently returned to our state with fresh cans of their ever-popular blonde ale. Bombshell’s soft malty flavor is well balanced by drying German Tradition hop’s bitterness. Cans make this one boat friendly too.
Anderson Valley Brewing, Summer Solstice
5 percent abv.
Imagine a grown-up cream soda. This strangely drinkable amber ale will have you craving a second glass halfway through the first. Be warned, this beer has a serious cult following for a reason.
Widmer Hopside Down
6.7 percent abv.
Widmer’s brew combines the big juicy hops of American IPA with the clean, polished mouthfeel of lager fermentation, which downplays the warmer fruity/spicier elements of ale and makes a supremely drinkable beer. Keep an eye out for India Pale Lager as this will not be the last one you see.
4 percent abv.
“Gose-uh” is an obscure style of sour wheat beer from Germany. Traditionally they are seasoned with salt and spiced with coriander. Sour beers help cut the heat and humidity of the South Carolina summer, and their recent popularity is not surprising. Refreshing and rejuvenating.
Brooklyn Summer Ale 4.5 percent abv.
Essentially a very light British Pale Ale, Brooklyn balances a nice biscuity malt flavor with classic English hop spice. British Ales are a specialty of this brewery, and the Summer Ale harkens back to the light, food-friendly luncheon ales once popular in England.
Argus ‘Lady Goldsmith’ Cider
9 percent abv.
You might have noticed these corked and caged champagne bottles of dry cider in select restaurants downtown. Argus is an ultra-small artisanal producer just outside of Austin, Texas. Four varieties of apples are fermented and oak-aged like Chardonnay wine. In fact, this cider has a mouthwatering acidity that many wine drinkers would be quite familiar with. Dry and perfect for oysters and picnics.
Brandon Plyler manages the downtown Charleston Beer Exchange.