Beer experts select the 17 best Summer beers

summer beers
Dan Gentile

Some Summer seasonals deserve coveted space in your cooler, while others should be left to crowd gas station beer fridges well into the Fall. To help guide you through the wealth of wheat beers, session ales, and busty blondes unleashed during the Summer months, we tapped a panel of beer writers, brewers, and store buyers to pick out their favorite limited-edition thirst-quenchers. Your backyard barbecue owes them a thank you.

New Belgium Summer Helles
Dan Gentile

New Belgium Summer Helles

"The world needs more lagers, so I was quite excited to hear New Belgium was brewing up a German-style Helles for the Summer. This one hits all of the bells and whistles for the style, and it's also super drinkable, which makes it an ideal Summer seasonal." -- Jason Alstrom, BeerAdvocate (Winthrop, MA)

Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project American Darling

“On a warm Summer night, there is nothing like throwing some steaks on the grill, sitting back, and relaxing with an American Darling. The malty, pale, refreshing lager is my go-to for backyard BBQs or when I want to just share a couple of pints with friends and family." -- Lee Cooper, Hopsters (Boston, MA)

Tröegs Sunshine Pils

"Sunshine Pils is crisp, clean, and beautifully hopped. The perfect beer for a Summer day." -- Amos Lowe, Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. (Austin, TX)

Shiner Ruby Redbird
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Shiner Ruby Redbird

“When I'm outside of New England and can't find our beers, Shiner's Ruby Redbird is definitely a beer I'll search for. My typical craft preference is at the sessionable end of the spectrum, especially in the Summer, and the Ruby Redbird nails it at 4% ABV. I'm also a big fan of ruby red grapefruit, so this beer really pulls it all together for me.” -- Mark Hellendrung, Narragansett Beer (Providence, RI)

Payette Brewing Fly Line Vienna Lager

"This Summer seasonal from Payette Brewing in Boise is a delicious golden lager. It's a malt-forward beer with a big body and a crisp finish that'll leave you satisfied on a Summer day." -- Matt Eggers, Woodland Empire Ale Craft (Boise, ID)

Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale

"The bright notes of freshly cut flowers and light citrus make this beer pair perfectly with four more. And the colors on the can just scream Summertime pool party.” -- Josh Hare, Hops & Grain (Austin, TX)

Firestone Walker Easy Jack
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Firestone Walker Easy Jack Session IPA

"In sessionable IPAs, the hop element is more pronounced, yet the body still has balance and a malt backbone that centers the beer. This session IPA has a fruity, tropical hop aroma and flavor, filled with pineapple, passion fruit, orange, tangerine, papaya, lemon, grapefruit, and a touch of pine forest in the finish. The malt sweetness leaves just enough to balance the hops, but not too much. As the very last drops go down the throat, you’re left wanting another swig to go back on the hop trip! What makes this even better is the 4.5% ABV allows you to have more than one of this flavor-filled treat with no issues of wanting a nap after the first (or third) beer!" -- Sean Paxton, Homebrew Chef (Sonoma, CA)

Schell's Hefeweizen

"Nothing's better than a well-made German-style wheat beer in the Summer. This one offers a great blend of both banana and clove flavor, and the aroma needed for true Summer refreshment. It's a great Minnesota beer that deserves more love." -- Mike Hoops, Town Hall Brewery (Minneapolis, MN)

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice

"There might be few things better on a hot Summer's day than this beer. The first time we had it at the restaurant, we all thought it tasted like a cream soda with alcohol. Summer Solstice has a beautiful malt backbone that provides a slight sweetness, while the Bravo hops give a great spice to this thirst-quenching brew." - Julian Kurland, The Cannibal Beer & Butcher (New York, NY)

Victory Summer Love Ale
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Victory Summer Love Ale

"It's like a blonde ale with a little hint of hops and sweet lemon-citrus taste to it. Perfect for 100-degree days." -- Mohammad Walid, Quickie Pickie (Austin, TX)

Odell St. Lupulin

"Named for the sticky yellow resin found in hops (lupulin), Odell's St. Lupulin is a fantastic Summer quencher and one of the best American pale ales on the market. Grapefruit, pine sap, and tangerine rind burst from the glass, carefully laid over a delicate, biscuity malt backbone. Delightfully bitter and yet superbly balanced, St. Lupulin is worth seeking out." -- Pat Fahey, Cicerone Certification Program (Chicago, IL)

Peak Organic Summer Session Ale

"This is a go-to Summer beer for us every year. Take all the great things about a Summer wheat beer and cross that with a pale ale, and you get Peak Summer Session. The hops give this beer a nice, light citrusy flavor while making this beer super crisp and refreshing. Plus, it's in cans for the first time this year. Truly a beer for all occasions." -- Devon Regan, Drink Craft Beer (Boston, MA)

Lagunitas Daytime Fractional IPA
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Lagunitas DayTime Fractional IPA

"Texas Summers are brutally long, scorching things that will melt your soles to the pavement. This Summer, I’ve been drinking a lot of Lagunitas DayTime (which they call a “Fractional IPA”). It’s pleasantly light-bodied, but full of explosive hop flavor and aroma with just a touch of bitterness. And at 4.65% ABV, it’s so incredibly drinkable that you could enjoy it all day, and stay refreshed in the Texas heat." -- John Rubio, The Beerists (Austin, TX)

Sam Adams Summer Ale

"Over the years Sam Adams' Summer Ale has become my go-to Summer beer. It hits shelves when the snow has barely melted here in New England, like some sort of harbinger of the warmer days to come. It's light and refreshing with a nice citrusy tang, and also tends to go over well with a crowd of craft and non-craft beer drinkers." -- Russ Phillips, CraftCans (Portland, ME)

Southern Tier Hop Sun

"In terms of drinkability during the Summer, the Hop Sun is one of my go-tos. It's a clean, filtered wheat beer that's citrusy and fresh without being over the top. The kind of thing you'd want in your hand during an afternoon rooftop party. It goes great with grilled chicken!" -- Zach Mack, Alphabet City Beer Co. (New York, NY)

Sierra Nevada Summerfest
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Sierra Nevada Summerfest

"Sierra Nevada Summerfest is my go-to Summer seasonal. It’s crisp, clean, fresh, and highly drinkable. With relatively low alcohol, this beer can be enjoyed after Summertime sports, and it pairs perfectly with your next cookout. If your Miller Lite-drinking uncle is leery about drinking 'one of those microbrews', pour this into his red cup, and he’ll be surprised at how delicious and easy to drink this beer is." -- Dan Becker, The Full Pint (Los Angeles, CA)

Dogfish Head Festina Peche

"The Berliner Weisse is a pretty popular style these days -- which is kind of impressive considering how it was almost an extinct style a decade or two ago. One of my all-time favorites is Dogfish Head's version that's infused with fresh peaches. Festina Peche is a refreshingly tart, extremely effervescent ale that tastes just like peach yogurt. It's so freaking good." -- Ashley Routson, Drink With The Wench (Berkeley, CA)

Dan Gentile is a staff writer on Thrillist's national food and drink team. After shooting these photos he immediately jumped in Barton Springs. Then when he got home, he cursed the fact that none of these beers were cold. Follow him to beers exploding in his freezer at @Dannosphere.