In much of the nation, the ground has only recently thawed and temperatures still dip down to horrifying depths. (A high of 47, is that some kind of sick joke? How could anyone live like that?) Meanwhile, here in Elysium it's already hitting 90 and might as well be summer. To help you keep cool in what's looking like a hot few months, and to make your warm evenings outdoors as pleasant as possible, we've come up with a list of Five Great Southern California Beers for Summer. Our list is by no means exhaustive, it's meant as a jumping-off point for your summer beer search. If you've discovered another refreshing local pint, do let us know in the comments.
Click on to check out some delicious heat-beaters. Boston Celtics not included, for obvious reasons.
5. AleSmith X: Our first instinct when the weather gets warm is to reach for the hops. When it's really hot, though, the big malt backbone and high ABV of most Double IPAs is just too heavy, which means that pale ales are the way to go. AleSmith X still has the citric hop flavor and crisp finish that we find so refreshing, but its lightness and comparatively low ABV keep it quaffable no matter how high the mercury climbs.
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4. Eagle Rock Brewery Manifesto: For the hop-haters out there the witbier is a great summer style, and Eagle Rock Brewery's version is very well done. The flavors of yeast, lemon and spice are all there, and the 4.5% ABV and high carbonation make this an eminently drinkable beer. Unfortunately, Eagle Rock doesn't bottle their beer yet, so you'll have to pick up a growler if you want to enjoy it while waiting for your burgers to cook instead of while waiting in line for a food truck.
3. Bootlegger's Spring Ale: The small Fullerton brewery's Spring Ale is something of a curiosity. It's brewed with honey, sage, chamomile, and several other spices, and they all come through in the taste. It's a unique experience, but the feeling of drinking your garden is nothing if not pleasant and seasonally appropriate.
2. The Bruery Saison De Lente: Saison is another traditional Belgian summer style, and the frenzy-inducing, bicoastal-collaborating Orange County brewery makes a great one. Saison De Lente, their spring seasonal saison, hits all of the right notes for a refreshing hot-weather beer, with a light-ish body, decent carbonation, and a dry fruity taste. The floral aroma, spice, and barely-noticeable funk round out a very enjoyable brew.
1. Alpine Nelson: When we mentioned earlier that the first thing we reach for in summer is a hoppy beer, this is what we meant. Alpine makes a wide variety of excellent IPAs, but Nelson gets the nod here for its great balance of drinkability and hop punch. It tastes primarily of dank pine hops, with plenty of citrus and even a bit of white wine. The rye adds just a hint of spiciness and grain, and though a bomber of this 7% brew may be a little much for the middle of the day, it's perfect for splitting with a fellow hophead or for sipping over the course of an evening on the stoop. Not that we endorse this apparently illegal practice, of course.