Slideshow: Ask a Cicerone: What's The Perfect Summer Beer Style?

Helles and Kölsch
Helles and Kölsch
"Out of all the styles I love, Helles and Kölsch have always been my summer favorites. Perhaps living in Germany for 3 years helped foster my affinity, but it is rare to find a well-produced version of this style in the US. Kölsch (which is pronounced more like Kerlsh than Kohl-sh because of the two little dots called an umlaut) is a medium-light bodied brew that is a clean, crisp, delicately-balanced beer. It is a real thirst quencher and a great way to start any summer session. Even the tall skinny glass it is served in, a Stange, makes it look refreshing. Helles is a difficult style to produce, so good examples are also rare in the US. This is an incredible style because it is a lager that has clean, easy flavors and yet is more malty than hoppy.  If there is an easier beer to drink by the liter (the Germans call the 1L glass a Mas) in the summer, I have yet to find it." — Drew Larson (HOPLEAF)
Pucker Up
Pucker Up
"Summer, for me, is the time to break out the sour ales. I feel that some of these beers hit the spot in the same way as a nice glass of lemonade. You can drink Berliner Weisse all day long (within reason) and not get in too much trouble. Grilled foods are a great pair with Belgian sours...chicken with Gueuze, hamburgers with Flanders Reds and Browns. More and more American brewers are producing fantastic sour ales that approach the complexity of their Belgian ancestors. Jolly Pumpkin out of Dexter, MI is particularly worth seeking out." — Robert Johnson (Standard Market)
Malty Brown Ale
Malty Brown Ale
"My favorite summer style is a malty brown ale. I really enjoy a beer that has a profile balanced between malty sweetness and hoppy bitterness without overdoing either flavor." — Joe Brinkman (Samuel Adams)
Kolsch
Kolsch
"While there are a lot of good candidates for a perfect summer beer, I think a Kolsch is my absolute favorite. I love how refreshing and easy it drinks while remaining complex. Most importantly, it is a daytime beer, always appropriate under sunshine or in the shade on a hot day. The best examples of Kolsch glow gold and brilliant under the sun and you can always afford to have several without feeling much pull from it. Of course, a summer beer should always be sessionable, and you won’t find any well-made Kolsch over 5.5% alcohol. Most people don’t know that traditional Kolsch uses ale yeast and ferments in low temperatures and over slightly longer durations than most ales. The yeast isn’t the least bit temperamental and this makes for a clean, lightly fruity, and dry beer. It's one of the most approachable yet complex beers you can drink all summer." — Jay Rose (Urge American Gastropub)
Belgian White Ales
Belgian White Ales
"I love the Belgian White Ales. When fresh and well treated, they are the ideal summer quenchers. Bright, citrusy, quenching and quaffable, they never disappoint when it is over 80 degrees outside. The coriander in most Belgian style white ales is the seed of the cilantro plant and provides a sturdy hook for any summery dishes featuring the herb." — Samuel Merritt (Civilization of Beer)
Berliner Weisse
Berliner Weisse
"I'd likely reach for a Berliner Weisse when it's hot. I appreciate the acidity and lactic tartness as a counterpoint to the muggy New York City humidity, and the dry finish leaves me feeling quite refreshed." — James Tai (Pinch)