It seems like every year, more and more summer beers are appearing on tap at my local bars. This year, we decided that it was finally time to figure out which summer beers we should be buying for our barbecues and which we should not. Being the engineer that I am, I of course, took a scientific approach and so last weekend, Tori & I plus six of our family members took on the challenge of rating 14 summer beers.
Most of the beers we included in our taste test came from a summer variety pack that was put together by a local beer distributor in Pennsylvania. The rest were beers I picked up because they were brands I like to drink. Here is the full list of beers:
- Abita Mardi Gras Bock
- Bell’s Oberon Ale
- Brooklyn Summer Ale
- Dogfish Head Tweason’ale
- Flying Dog Bloodline
- Flying Fish Farm House Summer Ale
- Harpoon Summer Beer
- Sam Adam’s Summer Ale
- Shiner Prickley Pear
- Sierra Nevada Summerfest
- Southern Tier HopSun
- Leinenkugel Summer Shandy
- Victory Summer Love
- Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
So I know you all must be wondering how the beers did. At the end of the day, five beers came out on top not only for overall ratings, but also in the categories of Drinkability and Good on a Hot Day.
Leinenkugel Summer Shandy
Summer Shandy topped our list in all three categories. It rated low on the hops and malt scale, but very high on the fruity scale. This beer is definitely one of those beers you either love or hate. Out of all the beers we rated, it had the largest range of ratings. If you like lemonade and don’t mind you’re beer tasting like lemonade, then there is a good chance you’ll like this one.
Brooklyn Summer Ale
Brooklyn Summer Ale placed second in all three categories. As a group, we rated this beer somewhere between mid to low on the hops, malt, and fruity scales. Unlike Summer Shandy, this beer was pretty consistent on it’s rating and so we’d definitely say this is a pretty safe bet to stock at your barbecue.
Harpoon Summer Beer
While Harpoon Summer ranked third overall, it fell into 5th place for Drinkability and Good on a Hot Day. It was low on the hops and fruity scales, but scored in the middle for malt.
Victory Summer Love
Victory Summer Love ranked fourth overall, but third in Drinkability and Good on a Hot Day. This beer is an IPA and so it was high on the hops scale, in the middle on the fruity scale, and low on the malt scale. If you like IPAs this is definitely the summer beer for you. If you don’t like beer that tends to taste like ruby red grapefruit juice though, then you might not want to pick up this one.
Abita Mardi Gras Bock
Abita Mardi Gras Bock was in fifth place overall, but snuck into fourth for Drinkability and Good on a Hot Day. This beer had the most malt notes out of any we tried and was very low on the hops and fruity scales. We’re still not quite sure why a beer called Mardi Gras (which is in February) made it into a summer variety pack, but we do love Abita. We tried this one first and while it didn’t blow us away, we soon came to find it was definitely one of the better options in the box. So if you like Bocks and you come across this one during the summer it might be worth a try. If you like fruity beers though, you might be better off checking out Abita’s Purple Haze.
After tasting and rating all 14 beers in random order and ranking them on level of Hops, Malt, & Fruit as well as drinkability, whether or not they would be good on a hot day, and our overall liking we came to a few conclusions. The first is, never buy a summer variety pack unless you have tried and liked at least 80% of the beers listed. We were unpleasantly surprised with how many beers we didn’t care for even though they were by breweries who we typically like. The second thing we learned was that unlike many other types of seasonal beers, there is a ton a variety in summer beers. Whether you like wheat beers or IPAs there is a summer beer for you, but that being said you need to understand what types of beer you like and not just assume because its a summer beer it will taste the same as the last summer beer you tried. The last thing we discovered was that some beers we love to order on tap in the summer, just weren’t quite the same from a bottle.
Were you surprised by our top five? Did your favorite summer beer make our list?