Our Top 2011 Warm Weather Brews

It looks like warmer weather is finally here (don’t toy with my heart, Pittsburgh), and it’s time to shift to spring/summer brews. I generally shy away from these lighter, more refreshing beers, instead stubbornly clinging to heavy IPAs and stouts, although this year I’m finding some real warm weather contenders:

  • Namaste – Dogfish Head Brewery (Belgian White/Witbier): Usually I find Whites disappointingly one-dimensional, but very refreshing. A drink to sip on a patio when it’s too hot to worry about a beer’s complexity. I was pleasantly surprised by Namaste, though, which adds hints of coriander, pepper, and clove into the expected citrusy flavor. This beer makes me want to enjoy a glass in the sun, then bust out some major Asanas. A few negatives: I have only seen this beer in one location around the city and it was over $8 a pint.
  • Bell’s Oberon Ale – Bell’s Brewery, Inc (American Pale Wheat Ale): Bell’s Oberon is slightly less complex than Namaste, but still scores high marks with me. It’s officially my go-to beer in warm weather. Very refreshing, nice mouthfeel (not too carbonated, smooth but crisp), very lemony flavor, but well rounded. Usually nicely priced, too (I have been finding it around the city for $5 a pint).
  • Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer – 21st Amendment Brewery: Out of the canned beers, 21st Amendment Brewery offers some interesting selections. Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer is just what it sounds like…a Watermelon Wheat Beer. It tastes less like a beer and more like a Watermelon wine cooler to me, but hey, you might be into that. Not sickeningly sweet and gets points for being interesting. Might be nice to take to a picnic, even non beer drinkers will tolerate this one. I am not the biggest fan of the canned beer trend, but in the spring and summer they certainly have a place.
  • ApriHop – Dogfish Head Brewery (American IPA): OK, so I lied about Bell’s Oberon being my go-to beer. When there is ApriHop available I usually go with it. This is the perfect spring beer for IPA lovers such as me, especially if I don’t want to venture into the wheat beer territory. Hops are grassy and up front, and there is a nice hint of apricot present. Reminds me of walking around the neighborhood and smelling freshly cut grass. Yep, that good. (Also about $5 a pint most places).

Cheers to warmer weather!