Light, crisp beers best for all-day summer sipping

2013-07-17T00:00:00Z Light, crisp beers best for all-day summer sippingThe Associated Press The Associated Press
July 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It's the unofficial rule of summer - when the sun comes out, so do the coolers.

For many, that means stocking up on light beers that are crisp and refreshing, but pack less alcohol. Because when you're hiking, heading to the beach or pitching a tent, you don't want to be weighed down by a beer with too robust a body or whose alcohol content impedes the pleasure of all-day sipping.

If you're looking for options beyond the typical mass-market beers, the booming craft beer industry has plenty of options to quench this thirst. Recently, a number of craft brewers have brought out crisp, refreshing choices like the farmhouse ales known as saisons and sessionable beers, which are perfect for summer sipping.

These beers pair well with grilling staples such as burgers, chicken and sausage, summer salads and pizza, and spicy foods like Mexican, Thai and Indian.

The trouble with craft beers is that they can be hard to find. That's part of the appeal, of course, but also a bummer when a buddy raves about a recent find that you can't find. So to make your summer that much better, we've gathered a list of some favorite summer-friendly craft brews that are more widely available.

Although all the seasonal beers listed here aren't available at every Tucson wine and beer seller, check with your favorite shop for their recommendations.

"There's still tons of deliciousness out here," Sarah Sydloski, beer/wine/spirit expert at Plaza Liquors, 2642 N. Campbell Ave. The store carries Summerfest and Saison Dupont, which are featured here, among many other varieties.

Rumrunner, at 3131 E. First St., is a good bet as well. It sells Saison Dupont and lots of other craft brews.

SUMMERFEST (from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, Calif.)

Style: Czech Pilsner

Alcohol: 5 percent

Notes: This golden lager is, of course, refreshing, but it also has a sweet, malty flavor and subtle spicy character that lets you know you're not drinking just another mainstream beer.

SAISON DUPONT (from Brasserie Dupont in Belgium)

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol: 6.5 percent

Notes: Saison Dupont is the classic farmhouse ale against which many of today's modern takes on saisons are measured. This style of beer originally was made by farmers in Belgium during the cooler harvest months and stored for drinking during the summer. This unfiltered ale is full-bodied and malty, but has lots of citrus and spice.

ALL DAY IPA (from Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, Mich.)

Style: American IPA

Alcohol: 4.7 percent

Notes: Craft beer drinkers have an affinity for hops, which are known for providing a certain bitterness to beer. For some, the more, the better. This beer was brewed with summer - and hop-heads - in mind. The light-bodied ale is crisp and refreshing, but also offers up citrus and pine tastes and aromas.

FLEUR DE HOUBLON (from Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y.)

Style: Belgian-style Summer Ale

Alcohol: 6.8 percent

Notes: Ommegang's brand-new summer ale is named for the hop flowers used to make the beer. This Belgian-style golden ale blends flavors of citrus from the whole Bravo hops with aromas of fresh cut grass and the sweetness of tropical fruit. The beer, which is clean, dry and refreshing, is fermented twice with the brewery's unique house yeast to impart complex and spicy notes.

TRADE WINDS (from The Bruery in Placentia, Calif.)

Style: Tripel/Belgian-style Golden Ale

Alcohol: 8 percent

Notes: While a little higher in alcohol content, this Belgian-style ale with sparkling wine-like qualities is definitely a good summer beer, but maybe not all day long. It uses rice in its brewing to give it a lighter body and is spiced with Thai basil. It's dry, fruity and has a good amount of carbonation.

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