Much like the food at your local farmer’s market or favorite bistro, craft beer offerings change with the seasons. Sure, some of these varieties are available year-round, but we Made Men are discerning gents. We like our Maryland blue crabs and Jersey silver queen corn in-season, and we like our meat fresh off the grill. Next time you hit the outdoor seats at a brewpub or visit the nearest bottle shop, keep an eye out for these five seasonal beers. They channel the time of year, and make the sun shine a little brighter and—don’t let the photo above fool you—taste best out of a crystal-clear pint glass.
1. Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co.’s Summer Shandy
This bottle from the Wisconsin-based brewery affectionately called Leinie delivers a refreshing mix of lemon flavor and beer. Also known as a radler, this quaffable 4.2% ABV beverage is literally your old-school session brew. It pours cloudy like a wheat beer and combines a crisp lager mouthfeel with a candy-infused lemon finish. The Euro version of the Michelada! Toss these back with some s’mores around the campfire. More: leine.com
2. Ayinger Celebrator
Bock-style lagers are traditionally brewed in the winter, stored cold and then released in late April and May. Thanks in part to a sweet, malty backbone, their release is a veritable rite of spring, and Germany’s goat-adorned Ayinger Celebrator is considered one of the inimitable leaders. It pours a deep mahogany and has roasty notes, a sweet molasses mouthfeel and a chewy caramel finish. At 6.7% ABV, it’s one of the stronger beers of the season. Serve with a platter of smoked cheeses and cranberry chutney. More: en.ayinger-bier.de
3. Stoudts Karnival Kölsch
Kölsch-style beers are named after the city where they were born—Köln, Germany—and this version from Stoudts Brewery in Adamstown, Pennsylvania, mixes the finer points of ale (warm, top-fermented beer) with lager (cold, bottom-fermented beer). Karnival Kölsch pours golden straw color. The hops are spicy and floral, unlike a lot of current popular beers that champion the fruity, citrus side of hop varieties, and it has a grainy, breakfast cereal-accentuated finish. Weighing in at 4.8% ABV, it’s a great way to discover the world of Hallertau noble hops. Sip with sausage and sauerkraut. More: stoudtsbeer.com
4. Bell’s Oberon Ale
This wheat beer out of Kalamazoo, Michigan boasts a nice balance between malt and hops. Not overly yeasty like some wheats and not crazy bitter like current IPAs, Oberon is slightly carbonated, has zesty fruit notes and finishes crisp with a sprinkle of a bitter hoppiness. That helps it hide it’s 5.8% ABV very well. Pair a sixer with some grilled sourdough bread and smoked beef brisket. More: bellsbeer.com
5. Smuttynose Farmhouse Ale
The spicy hops and yeastiness of Belgian beers meet the crisp, malt finish of a Czech-style pilsner in farmhouse ales, also known as saisons (French for “seasons”), which are brewed in the fall after the hops and malt harvest and then stored and slowly fermented over the cool winter months. Called farmhouse ales because of the primitive conditions they were brewed in, these beers often have earthy, wet hay and horse blanket aromas. The ABV of Smuttynose’s version changes year to year, ranging between 7 and 10%. Sip a bomber with your sushi. More: smuttynose.com
Photos sourced from fotopedia.com, elibom-suxel.livejournal.com, kupkosmindbottled.blogspot.com and theperfectlyhappyman.com.