Summery beer – that which one drinks in the 2.5 days of sunshine afforded by our fair isle or that which one drinks in order to close our eyes and pretend – does not have to mean the ubiquitous lager swilling around many a pub terrace.
Some are easy-drinking, others are more unusual, some are ideal swaps for cider or white wine (excellent for tempting friends away from the Sauvignon Blanc)... light, fruity or floral, whichever you try, all are fabulously summery whatever the weather is doing.
OK, you probably won’t find these beers in your local supermarket, but we’ve provided handy shopping links and there’s nothing to stop you bookmarking this gallery and tripping down to your nearest bottle shop. In fact, we heartily recommend it.
Go forth and drink craft by scrolling through our gallery below – you deserve it.
High Wire Grapefruit, Magic Rock
Huddersfield’s Magic Rock is frankly smashing it, and this is a solidly fruity and refreshing staple from the brewery. With more and more drinkers turning to “sweet, sour and thirst-quenching” brews with added fruit, Rossiter says this punchy grapefruit version of MR’s original tribute to American West Coast pale ale will convert you too. “An explosion of mango, lychee and lip-smacking grapefruit flavours, it perfectly suits an afternoon spent out in the sunshine.” Or indoors pretending it’s sunny.
This citrus IPA from London’s Fourpure, brewed with fresh orange peel, has become a summery staple for us beer geeks, with its refreshing trip around citrus and mango flavours. “It’s freakin’ ace,” says Warman. “Massively pungent, lip-smacking juiciness right from the off, then bags of tropical character and more zest and pith than Paddington Bear could handle. The bitterness is just enough to prevent it from becoming some sort of Piña Colada anti-beer. Imagine a fruit salad for grown-ups.” Level up to limited-edition Deucebox if you find it – a boozier, more intense version.
Tzatziki Sour, Mad Hatter
Yes, that’s tzatziki, as in the Greek dip. As in the yoghurty, salty, Greek dip. Not one for the timid craft appreciator, this Berliner Weisse is a proper match for the barbecue. Rossiter says: “Liverpool’s Mad Hatter is synonymous with pushing boundaries and truly unique flavours, and this is one of the most divisive craft beers available in the UK. Yoghurt, mint and cucumber characters form a truly adventurous drinking experience perfectly suited to a barbecue of grilled meats and Mediterranean cuisine.”
Gose to Hollywood, To Øl
Warman says this lower-percentage gose from Danish brewers To Øl will appeal to cider fans looking for something different. “Gose is a German sour style with a little touch of salt,” she explains. “It really brings a face-puckering sourness on first sip that reminds me of a cloudy lemonade – ideal for a British summer. It’s also packed with oranges, giving it a well-rounded sweetness and fullness that neatly offsets the sour. Get a can cracked! A great summer refresher.”
Eskimo Joe, Fierce Beer
This is one for the caffeine heads who want the coffee taste, but can’t face the often-heavy brews it features in. HonestBrew’s Rossiter says: “Coffee flavours are often prominent within darker beers such as stouts and porters, however Scotland’s Fierce Beer has managed to successfully infuse cold-pressed coffee and a hint of vanilla into a refreshing pale – perfect for a ‘pick me up’ during the warmer months.”
Wild Feijoa Sour Ale, 8 Wired Brewing
This is a wild ale brewed with feijoas (a sweet, aromatic fruit native to 8 Wired’s own New Zealand, among others) and aged in wine barrels. “This beer starts its life off as a pretty simple pale. 8 Wired then ferments the beer and ages it in barrels, finally adding a whopping 800kg of feijoas. If you’re entertaining cider and wine lovers, introduce them to craft beer with this mouth-puckering departure from the norm – it even comes in a big 500ml bottle so you can share.” If you want…
Bloody 'Ell, Beavertown
This is a blood orange IPA, as juicy as the name suggests. London’s Beavertown stuffs it full of zest and hops for a refreshing citrus punch with a bitter edge – but be aware it’s a seasonal release and as such, only sticks around for the summer each year (though its season lasts a little longer than the UK sunshine does).
Superluminal Sour IPA, Buxton/Stillwater
Buxton Brewery has built a reputation on brewing “truly unique beers” in partnership with some of the world’s most exciting and #fussworthy breweries, says Rossiter, but this one, with Baltimore’s Stillwater, is slightly different. “Many of those collaborative offerings have been rich, darker beers suited for sipping while sheltering from the cold. Superliminal marries both a beloved style and a new favourite amongst beer lovers; refreshingly sour, yet still packing a good deal of hoppy tropical fruit flavour, it’s a perfect introduction to wilder and more interesting beer.”
If Sauvignon Blanc is your usual summer sip, Brewdog’s Warman recommends giving the brewery’s widely available Vagabond pale ale a shot. “It’s got masses of super floral, summery vibes. It’s perfectly balanced with a delicate but defined bitterness, and it’s relatively dry, giving you plenty of refreshment without being too cloying – so it would be great for a white wine drinker looking for a barbecue accompaniment. Plus, it's also gluten-free so ideal if you’re a coeliac. So many wins!”
Double Chocolate Coffee Toffee Vanilla Milk Porter, Howling Hops
Alright, not that refreshing, but consider this for those of us who opt for a Magnum over an ice pop. There’s a suspicion in craft beer circles that producers are competing to see who can string the most words together and call it a beer. London brewery Howling Hops gives it a good go with this boozy treat. Rossiter says: “Howlings Hops’ decadent milk porter ensures those of you with a sweet tooth can still enjoy a rich and delicious treat. Who needs summer berries when you’ve got a dessert in a bottle?”
Sakura Pale Ale, Magic Rock x Tate x Uniqlo
This pale ale has been specially brewed for the Tate’s monthly Uniqlo Tate Lates events and, as the name suggests, celebrates cherry blossom season with a mix of rice, dried morello cherries, peach concentrate, jasmine and preserved blossoms. It’s a light sip with subtle floral hints and a slight honeyed sweetness – extremely easy drinking for when you’ve had your fill of tzatziki sours and the like. It’s available in the Switch House Bar and the Tate shop, so one for dedicated Magic Rock fans or thirsty art lovers...
Image: Daniel James Turner