Top 10 American Craft Beers for Summer

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Thu, Jun 16, 2011 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge Ommegang Hennepin - DANIEL DRENNON
  • Daniel Drennon
  • Ommegang Hennepin

Traffic. Air pollution. Earthquakes. So why, at your local sports bar, are seemingly half the patrons transplants from New York, Boston and Chicago pulling for their hometown teams and lamenting "how great it is back home?" Four words. Bikinis. Board shorts. Beer. Another idyllic summer has arrived here in Los Angeles and it's the perfect time to enjoy our country's best climate with a smooth, crisp, light-bodied American craft beer. So we consulted with three of the best beer minds in the region for guidance as to which beers to savor this summer.

Gabe Gordon helms Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach and will open Beachwood BBQ and Brewery in downtown Long Beach in July. Tony Yanow owns the hideaway know as Tony's Darts Away in Burbank, and will open Mohawk Bend, with 70 taps in Echo Park, on July 28. Martin Svab is the beer savant at Naja's Place in Redondo Beach, a waterfront dive bar that features a mere 88 taps and three times that many bottles.

We asked each of the three to give us their 10 favorite summer-drinking beers, then combined their lists with our own, then weighted them with the rankings of thousands of beer geeks who "grade" individual beers on beeradvocate.com. We're nothing if not scientific. Turn the page for the results: the 10 best American craft beers for summer.

10. Allagash White (Portland, Maine). A slightly fruity, refreshing Belgian-style wit and only 5% abv so you can drink it all day long, like Kool-Aid, only way better.

9. Victory Prima Pils (Downingtown, PA). A German-style pilsner hailing from the classic Pennsylvania brewery. A thirst-quencher and sessionable at 5.3% abv.

8. Ommegang Hennepin (Cooperstown, NY). A brilliant farmhouse saison that lights up your tongue with a hint of spice and citrus that makes this a perfect beer to offset the heat. At 7.7% abv, this one can sneak up on you.

7. Lagunitas A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale (Petaluma, CA). A silky, crisp, wheat beer that is oh so right for a little sumpin' summer. It goes down so smooth that you would never guess it comes in at 7.5% abv.

6. Strand 24th Street Pale Ale (Torrance, CA). A perfect pale that is the only local beer to make the Top 10, and available at most decent beer bars in town thanks to Rich Marcello, aka the hardest working guy in the L.A. beerbiz. As for the pale itself, we would say to brewer Joel Elliott, "You done good, son!"

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