Memorial Day weekend may signal the official start to summer, but for beer fans, the calendar flip heralds a more important kickoff date: the official beginning of all-day-drinking season. The summer months are an excellent excuse to sip beer from noon till nightfall — or last call, if you possess serious staying power. This weekend, round into drinking shape at a BBQ with these 30 superb brews.
1. Magic Hat Brewing Company: Pistil
Now here’s a delicious oddity: The slightly sour, super-drinkable brew is made with oats and oodles of dandelion petals.
2. Otter Creek: Alpine Black IPA
To create this obsidian ale, the Vermont brewery relied on a newfangled hop variety called Citra hops. It bestows a beguiling tropical profile that plays well the cocoa notes and creamy mouthfeel.
3. Tallgrass Brewing: Buffalo Sweat
What’s Buffalo Sweat? For this Kansas brewery, it’s a knockout milk stout. Loads of roasted barley provide Buffalo with a deep brown hue, while a dose of cream sugar makes the stout smooth, rich and oh-so sippable.
4. Bayou Teche: Bière Noire
By focusing on beers designed to complement complex Cajun and Creole cuisine, Bayou Teche stands apart from the Southern pack.
5. Fort George Brewery + Public House: Vortex IPA
Based in Astoria, Oregon, this excellent brewery offers numerous terrific tall boys, including the brisk, surprisingly hoppy 1811 Lager.
6. Victory Brewing Company: Lager
The Munich helles–style lager’s malty scent is mixed with a zap of floral bitterness, while the bready, cracker-like taste is tempered by a welcome lingering sweetness.
7. Maui Brewing Co.: Bikini Blonde Lager
Hailing from the Aloha State, this lager presents an aroma of toasted grains, lemongrass and citrus. Bikini drinks smooth and crisp, offering up flavors of fresh-baked bread, honey and, ever so lightly, lemons.
8. Epic Beer: Armageddon IPA
Checking in at a devilish 6.66 percent ABV, this devilish New Zealand hop monster relies upon a quartet of American hops — grapefruit-y Cascade, super-citrusy Centennial, earthy and spicy Columbus, piney Simcoe—to drive its flavor profile.
9. Three Floyds: Gumballhead
The revered Indiana brewery’s flagship is this crisp, refreshing brew made with heaps of red wheat and plenty of Amarillo hops. Their fragrant, citrusy notes make this cloudy, lightly bittered brew an intoxicating treat.
10. Founders Brewing: Centennial IPA
The orange-amber, Michigan-made IPA is a full-on floral assault, with gobs of grapefruit and lemon too. There’s a sweet malt base, sure, but the bright citrus and bitter blast keep the equation balanced. It drinks creamy and finishes surprisingly dry.
11. Kern River: Just Outstanding IPA
The year-round IPA from this Southern California standout makes good on its immodest name. A strong malt backbone serves as the framework for this no-hops-spared winner bursting with a floral perfume and lip-smacking flavors of citrus.
12. Alpine Beer Company: Nelson
Hops fanatics worship California’s Alpine, a golden IPA made with rye and loads of Nelson Sauvin hops. The Kiwi hops provide aromas of peaches and pine, a bouquet that complements Nelson’s fruity flavors, wine-like astringency and spicy rye punch.
13. Bell’s Brewery: Two Hearted Ale
Orange-gold Two Hearted has a gorgeous floral aroma with notes of sweet, sticky citrus. Flavor follows aroma, with a touch of pine tossed in a smooth bitterness that’s often absent in IPAs.
14. Widmer Brothers Brewing Company: Citra Blonde Summer Ale
With its subtle current of bitterness and low alcohol, this blonde sipper is made for long afternoons by the water. But even on rainy days spent indoors you’ll adore the scent of citrus and tropical fruit.
15. Vanberg & DeWulf: Lambrucha
To create this mash-up, spontaneously fermented lambic was blended with tart kombucha. The result has an earthy, funky aroma that’s balanced by lemon zest, with citrus, green apples, and tannins zinging through on the first brightly acidic sip. The 3.5 percent ABV means Lambrucha can serve as an all-day refreshment.
16. Terrapin Beer: Rye Pale Ale
The Georgia brewery’s signature ale decants a handsome honey-orange, offering an aroma of toasted malts spritzed with citrus. On first sip, the medium-boded brew presents a floral, herbal bitterness, which is tempered by sweet malt and cactus-prickly rye.
17. New Belgium: Shift Pale Lager
New Zealand’s Nelson Sauvin hops give this Colorado-made lager a fruity, tropical profile, with notes of lychee and mango.
18. Funkwerks: Saison
The brew is a marvel of citrus and black pepper, with plenty of lingering bitterness to appeal to hop heads.
19. Left Hand Brewing Company: Milk Stout Nitro
Bottled under pressure with nitrogen (the gas that gives draft Guinness its creaminess), this stout cascades into a thick head as delicious as homemade whipped cream.
20. Flying Dog: Atlantic UnderDog Lager
The latest lager from the Maryland brewery presents nicely biscuit flavors, a brisk mouthfeel and a fruity bouquet. The 4.7 percent ABV means you should guzzle it by the six-pack.
21. Red Hook: Longhammer IPA
Just released in cans, this classic Pacific Northwest IPA continues to satisfy with its smooth drinkability married to a nose packed with plenty of citrus and pine.
22. Deschutes Brewery: Chainbreaker White IPA
Despite being named after a rugged mountain-bike race in central Oregon, Chainbreaker is a smooth journey across a landscape of citrus, sweet orange peel and coriander.
23. Narragansett Beer: Cream Ale
Sorry, Genesee Cream Ale. This craftier take on the indigenous American style is a lightly hoppy thirst-murderer with an appealingly crisp edge.
24. Maine Beer Company: Peeper Ale
The small, Portland, Maine, brewery focuses on flavorful, compulsively drinkable suds such as Pepper, a West Coast–style pale ale bursting with a fresh, citrusy scent.
25. The Bruery: Hottenroth Berliner Weisse
Chockablock with sour and barnyard flavors, this Berliner weisse-style brew’s citric tartness both shocks and cleanses taste buds. At just 3.1 percent ABV, it’s incredibly refreshing.
26. Saint Arnold Brewing Company: Fancy Lawnmower
Taking its cues from the German kölsch, the Houston brewery has concocted a sweet and grassy sipper with a delicate hop character.
27. Avery Brewing: Joe’s Premium American Pilsner
With a zesty and floral aroma, Joe drinks prickly and crisp, with a light body, lingering hop bite and serious thirst-quenching skills.
28. North Peak Brewing Company: Majestic American Wheat
Hailing from Michigan, the unfiltered wheat brew has an appealing bready, yeasty character and a lovely malt sweetness.
29. Pisgah Brewing: Solstice
Located just outside of Asheville, North Carolina, this organic brewery makes a seriously sublime Belgian-style tripel. While fruits dominate the nose, the Solstice rocks a nicely spicy note, as well as a subdued fruitiness and sweetness.
30. Notch Session: Saison
The Boston-area brewery specializes in low-alcohol session brews like the crisp Session Pils and our favorite, the dry, peppery and compulsively drinkable Saison.