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Hot Sun, Cold Beer

Andrew Nagy, Ben O' Donnell
From the Print Edition:
Sylvester Stallone, July/August 2010

It's summertime and your beer is expected to do two things: taste great and go down cold. We've picked some stalwarts and some new favorites to cool you off while pleasing your palate.

Clear and crisp, pilsner is a can't-go-wrong warm-weather choice, and Miller High Life, the "champagne of bottled beer" is a classic American example, combining taste and affordability. For a little more punch, check out Victory's Prima Pils. The nose, exploding with hops, quickly balances with a smooth malt flavor to create a firm, refined taste.

Golden as Montezuma's treasure and clear as Ponce de León's fountain, Tecate is the Corona of the backyard wrestling set. For a more genteel cerveza, try Presidente, a classic kicking-back brew with a light touch, but satisfying through the finish-more Latin lover than luchador.

Sam Adams welcomes the season each year with its Summer Ale, producing a bold wheat flavor with a lemon-spice finish. Geary's Summer Ale is fuller still, with strong hops balanced by a buttery mouthfeel.

Looking to the north, Labatt may be the obvious choice for all your summer, uh, hockey needs, but also try Unibroue's Éphémère, a seasonal ale brewed with apples. Sweet but not treacly and charged with Granny Smith acidity, this may be the breakfast-approved beer you're seeking.

For the traditionalist, Hoegaarden White Ale (Belgium) and Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier (Germany), both unfiltered wheat beers, are the benchmarks for their styles. Hoegaarden, a Belgian witbier, has a strong orange-peel aroma and a fruity flavor, with a touch of coriander. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier is a bit more malty, with banana notes and a cleaner mouthfeel.

Later in the day, switch from apples to oranges: Michelob's big and bold Shock Top Belgian White brims with fresh-squeezed juice stand flavor, while Harpoon UFO White leans more toward creamsicle, evaporating into a grassy, floral aftertaste.

Outsize IPAs have become popular year-round with American craft drinkers, but the dead-focused, pine-forest hoppiness of Sierra Nevada's Torpedo Extra IPA makes it most at home on the porch in the sun. And the IPA Maximus from Lagunitas, which weighs in at 72 International Bitterness Units and 7.5 percent alcohol, is all maple, resin-a log cabin in a bottle.

For the calorie counter, Amstel and Yuengling offer light beers (both under 100 calories) that don't go light on taste. Both lagers are crisp and easy to drink, while Yuengling provides caramel malt flavor.

Finally, as grillmaster, you're required to make bold and controversial decisions. One of them should be Rogue's Chipotle Ale, copper-hued and genuinely spicy from the roasted pepper. The other might be Southampton Cuvée des Fleurs, which blossoms with lavender, rose, chamomile and marigold. And for desert, try the cushy Sea Dog Bluepaw, a wheat ale loaded with the essence of Maine blueberries, both refreshing and palate-cleansing.

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