Sharing summertime drinks is about enjoying good times, brightening already luminous afternoons and continuing conversations long after the sun blazes its farewell.
Breezy parties, beaches and backyard barbecues are hardly ideal venues for high-test India pale ales (IPAs) and other sobriety thieves. Instead, stock icy coolers with sour beers that are scant in alcohol and high in flavor.
Laced with Lactobacillus, the souring bacteria that morphs milk into yogurt, Berliner weisse, gose (pronounced “goes-uh”), grodziskie and dry-hopped sour beers marvelously merge tartness with refreshment that’s as invigorating as lemonade. Better yet, their low-wattage alcohol levels won’t short-circuit your senses as the day unfolds, round after round. Say hello to your new summer crushes.
Salt in beer might seem strange, but it’s this biting German wheat ale’s essential ingredient. The seasoning helps round out and sharpen gose’s invigorating tartness, which American brewers like to temper with fruit like apricots, blood oranges and guava.
Try: Victory Brewing Kirsch Gose, with its vivid crimson hue and fruity tartness that come courtesy of cherries. 4.7% abv.
While they marauded through Germany, Napoleon’s soldiers dubbed the highly effervescent Berliner weisse the “Champagne of the north.” Its lemony kick and bright acidity help the beer star alongside raw oysters and sushi, and it also excels as an apéritif.
Try: Fine bubbles fizz in 10 Barrel’s light-drinking, garden-fresh Cucumber Crush. 5% abv.
Tingly and tropical, citrusy and puckering, this lip-smacking style combines an IPA’s intense aromatics with a sour beer’s stimulating bracing acidity. It creates a compelling mashup that’s as lovely to sniff as it is to sip. Better yet, because the hops are added after brewing has ended, they don’t contribute any off-putting bitterness.
Try: Evil Twin and Intangible Ales’ electrifyingly tangy Sour Bikini, which explodes with aromas of grapefruit and lemon zest. 3% abv.
Pulled pork, kielbasa and other grilled goodies are great matches for grodziskie, an ancient Polish wheat beer (also called grätzer) that’s simultaneously sour and beguilingly smoky.
Try: Professor Fritz Briem’s Grodziskie, which gets its campfire complexity from the addition of beechwood-smoked wheat malt. 4% abv.