We’ve talked about summer beers and shandies and light drinking things that taste great under a relentless summer sun. However, that chill in the mornings and the sun setting earlier each day is a harbinger of the crisp, leaf-crunchiness of fall to come. With your last work-sanctioned time off just around the corner, the beach days and weekend barbecue season is coming to a close, so get out there and enjoy these day drinking delights before everything on the shelves is pumpkin flavored.
Anderson Valley’s Highway 128 Session Series
Anderson Valley Brewing Company puts out a lot of really great beers that we greatly enjoy, but they have yet to enter the session brew game. These two beers are their first entree into the session drinking category, and they are knockouts, through and through. First up is their Keebarlin’ Pale Ale, which clocks in at a respectable 4.2% ABV and is pleasantly bitter and hoppy, the perfect thing for a barbecue. If you’d rather something a little different, try your hand at The Kimmie, The Yink & The Holy Gose, which is a long-winded name for a kind of beer you don’t see that often in these parts. This beer is a gose, a German brew that features something not often used in brewing — salt. Less hoppy than the Keebarlin’, this beer leans towards the sour side, but has a unique hit of saltiness and tang at the end that makes it the perfect beer for beachside consumption.
Best enjoyed: In California, sadly, but if you can find it on the East Coast, show up to any barbecue or weekend house share with a six-pack and let the praise wash over you.
Brooklyn Brewery’s Penant Ale
This drinkable, English-style pale ale from local favorites Brooklyn Brewery at 5.0% ABV, feels a little strong to be a true session beer, but for those of a heartier constitution, it’s just the ticket. Created to celebrate the year that the Brooklyn Dodgers were world champs, this beer is meant to be savored alongside french fries and a handful of salty peanuts at a baseball stadium in the sun. Or, you could try your hand at easy sophistication and pair it with these cornmeal cayenne butter cookies, which sound like a sweeter version of Bugles, with a decidedly grown-up touch.
Best enjoyed: With close friends, lots of sunscreen, and seats on third base at Citifield.
This Kalamazoo, Michigan favorite has just started to pop up in bars and bottle shops around New York this summer, but instead of reaching for their admittedly-delicious but strong Oberon, seek out the Oarsman, a wheat-y, tart ale that, at 4.0% ABV, lets you drink a few during the day and still be respectable enough to go to dinner with your parents after the sun goes down. Also, it’s the only beer we’ve seen with label art that’s as if Edward Hopper and David Hockney teamed up to paint seascapes. It’s a conversation-starter.
Best enjoyed: With Led Zeppelin, a rooftop barbecue, and people that you want to get to know a little better.
21st Amendment’s Bitter American
San Francisco’s own 21st Amendment brewery puts out a lot of politcally-named, good-tasting beers, but none are as easy to drink on a hot summer day than their Bitter American. A hoppy, bitter session ale, it manages to cram in a lot of flavor into a beverage that’s only 4.4% ABV, which is a rare thing. Forgoing other session beer tropes like fruit, this drink is a solid, sparkling choice, and will sustain you for whatever activities you have planned for the day.
Best enjoyed: With fireworks, whether you’re setting them off yourself or watching them from the banks of the Hudson.
New Belgium Snapshot Beer
The much-vaunted, rarely available beers of Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing Company are hard to find in New York, but if you happen to be on a road trip, and you see their Snapshot beer at a bottle shop, grab as much as you can and bring it home. This beer plays off their reliance on sour notes and is a bright, unfiltered wheat beer with just enough tang to wake you up. It’s a respectable 5.0% ABV, which will put some hair on your chest if you’re posting up with a six-pack but come on. You can handle it.
Best enjoyed: With a floating raft, a swimming pool, sunglasses.