Beer Drinking Report: Best Summer Beers

It's not bad... but it's no PBR Summer.

So this press release showed up in my inbox today: “Available now through August, Narragansett Beer announces its first-ever summer seasonal craft brew, Summer Ale, available in 16 oz. Tallboy cans and on draught in bars, restaurants and package stores…”

Already, I was interested. As you know, I love canned beer. ‘Gansett is a pretty decent cheap beer. And summer beers have always been among my favorite seasonal beers. So I swung by Downtown Wine & Spirits to see if they had it in stock yet. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was — there it was sitting in the cooler, waiting for me. I grabbed a 6-pack. They were actually pretty reasonably priced at $8.50 for 16 oz. cans. That’s as close to cheap beer as you’re gonna find in Boston.

The beer itself was decent, but not great. It had a bit of a grapefruit-y aftertaste that made it a bit more palatable than traditional ‘Gansett. But mostly, it just made me think about how long it’s been since I had a PBR Summer. No, PBR Summer isn’t something that was dreamt up by the folks at Pabst, but by an enterprising bartender named Tristan up in the hinterlands of New Hampshire. A couple summers ago, he started throwing lemons in PBR drafts, and dubbed it “PBR Summer.” Now that ‘Gansett’s got a summer beer, I’m sure it won’t be long before PBR starts doing the same. I just hope Tristan gets some credit for his concoction when they do.

Anyway, all this talk of ‘Gansett Summer got me thinking about some of my favorite summer beers. So I decided to rank my top 5. And no, JT, despite your best efforts, Smuttynose’s Star Island Single didn’t make my list. But Peter E. should give you a raise just for getting me to mention it. Anyway, here are my faves:

5. Harpoon Summer — I love most of Harpoon’s beer, and they’re brewed in New England, so that’s always a bonus. Their IPA is still my fave, but their summer is very good, too.

4. Sam Adams Summer — Not an original pick, by any means. But I’ve been drinking Sam for years. And it tastes especially good on draft, like the one I had while hanging at the Legal bar with The Beer Drinker and 2 AM a couple weeks back.

3. Brooklyn Summer Brooklyn is probably my favorite brewery right now. Their summer beer is a bit different, with a grapefruit-y taste reminiscent of the ‘Gansett Summer, only the beer has more body to it.

2. Dos Equis Ambar I’ve long been a fan of both the Ambar and the Lager. My friend the Mayor told me last week that he thinks the Dos Equis Lager is probably his favorite beer. I argued that the Ambar is better, and I’m standing by that assessment. It once was hard to find at bars, but now you can get it pretty much anywhere. Unlike Corona, it actually has some flavor to it.

1. Pacifico — Another Mexican beer, although it’s even harder to find at bars than Dos Equis. Again, though, it’s gotten a bit easier to find in recent years. A friend of mine introduced it to me years ago, and I haven’t found a better summer beer since.

Mr. X is a contributor to the Beer Drinking Report.