As the summer sun shines longer and brighter, hot tea turns into iced tea, cider trades for lemonade, and rich, dark beers are exchanged for lighter "lawnmower" brews. Previously this meant generic American lagers—think Bud Light—but with the help of Colorado microbreweries, summer suds have moved from innocuous to creative. Now, brews made from wheat and rice not only quench thirst, they also double as sophisticated summertime treats.
Samurai from Great Divide Brewing
This beer sets itself apart by brewing with both rice and barley malts. Like sake (its rice cousin), Samurai has a crisp flavor, with a bit of floral in the nose, that's a perfect pairing for grilled fish such as tuna. Samurai, like many summer brews, is an unfiltered ale, which means the cloudiness (and nice bready flavor) in the pint glass comes from the yeast not being filtered out.
SummerBright Ale from Breckenridge Brewery
SummerBright, a sunny golden ale, imparts a hint of lemon and orange peel—thus saving you the hassle of slicing citrus. This brew pairs perfectly with appetizers like salsas and guacamoles. If you can't make it to the brewery's flagship pub in Breckenridge or one of its two Denver breweries, pick up a six-pack at your neighborhood liquor store.
White Rascal from Avery Brewing
Wheat beers often blossom in the summer because they use a yeast that ferments quickly and renders a fruity taste. If you're a Blue Moon fan ready to sidestep into craft brews, order a White Rascal. The sophisticated balance of coriander and curaçao makes this unfiltered brew not only thirst quenching, but also a fine example of what a wheat beer should be.
Mighty Arrow from New Belgium Brewery
Named after the CEO's pup, Arrow, this brand-new, gentle pale ale is a winning mix of Golding hops and honey malts. The brew doesn't overwhelm with bitterness and finishes clean and crisp. After our first pint, a beer-loving friend declared, "I just found my summer beer." Here's betting he's not alone.
Major Tom's Pomegranate Wheat from Fort Collins Brewery
Pomegranates have already made a splash in martinis and mojitos. And here they lend a subtle note to this wheat beer by providing a hint of pucker-sour without being too sticky-sweet. Major Tom's, named after the brewery's founder, has quickly become a best seller. Pour a pint of the pomegranate wheat whenever you serve up your best hand-cranked vanilla ice cream.