On a sweltering summer afternoon, I walked into Pinocchio’s Beer Garden with one question on my mind.
“What are the best six summer beers you recommend?”
Tim Volikas and Dan Shaw were behind the counter, and Tim made his way out to review the beer coolers and provide his expert guidance. For these guys, chatting about beer isn’t a a job, it’s a passion. Tim opened a few cooler doors, asked me a few questions and started making suggestions. A customer in the store chimed in, recommending Summer Shandy. After several minutes of discussion between the four of us, I walked out with six beers for summer sipping. Four were fruit-flavored beers, while two were more traditional summer ales.
Best Six Summer Beers are as follows:
Breckenridge’s SummerBright Ale
This is a simple clean golden ale from Breckenridge Brewery with hints of citrus. It’s offered in cans, which means it’s great to take to a pool party or camping. Brewed April through August. This refreshing ale comes in at 4.5% ABV, so it’s definitely sessionable.
Yards’ Saison Style Ale
This locally brewed farmhouse ale was probably my favorite of the batch. At 6.5% ABV, this is a bit stronger, and more flavorful, than SummerBright. Yards explains that “saisons were historically brewed to keep the farmhands happy and hydrated during the summer months.” This saison is a a nice beer to drink after a long summer day – whether you were cutting the grass or just finished a bike ride. The first batches were available in April in a limited supply.
Made with tart cherries, this had the strongest fruit flavor out of the six beers in this sampling. According to Founder’s Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan., fresh cherries are added at five stages of fermentation. Cerise makes for an interesting summer dessert beer after a burgers on the back porch. This comes in at 6.5% ABV and is only available June through August, so don’t delay.
Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche
This refreshing beer is actually fermented with real peaches, giving it a light fruity taste that’s sure to please on a hot summer day. At 4.5% ABV, this is a beer you can sip throughout the afternoon. Festina Peche is only available during summer months.
Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy
The traditional shandy is made with wheat beer and lemonade, and this is the popular version from Wisconsin’s Leinenkugel Brewery. Not as lemony as I expected, just hints coming through. Comes in at 4.2% ABV.
21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer
I was hesitant to try this concoction, though I had heard some intriguing things from others. Turns out there’s no seeds! Seriously though, this is made with watermelon puree. The watermelon taste is so faint, it really just comes through in the aftertaste, making it okay. 4.9% ABV isn’t too strong either. If nothing else, this is a good beer to pour samples for your guests so they can experience it themselves.
So, these were the six summer beers Tim Volikas chose from the hundreds offered at Pinocchio’s Beer Garden. If you’re looking to try a few new brews, stop by and let these sommeliers hand-select some new beers for you to try.
Find Pinocchio’s Beer Garden To Go at 131 E. Baltimore Pike in Media or online at pinbeer.com.