The Ultimate Summer Craft Beer Guide

In my last years of college I was a bartender at World of Beer in Gainesville and it was a job that I am so happy that I had! I know a college kid who gets to pour beer and sip on tasters throughout their shift  would of course be happy to have that kind of job, but it was so much more than that! For one thing, working there introduced me to a world outside of Mich Ultra’s and Guinness. But don’t get me wrong, I still love Mich Ultra for a hot day on the lake or beach. Is that just a southern thing? We went to Austin for a Bachelorette party a few weeks back and hardly anyone from Oregon had had a Mich Ultra besides me!  ALSO FUN FACT: I used to think Guinness was SOO heavy but it actually only has 15 calories more than a Bud Light! 

Before starting at World of Beer we had to take a test in “beer school” and I always tell people I studied harder for that test than any other exam in college! I don’t know if that’s sad or glorious, but regardless it’s fun knowledge to have nonetheless! I used to be so involved in the craft beer “world”  that I knew about any special releases and every sought after brew region to region. Now I live in the Pacific Northwest which is one of the greatest regions for craft beer in America, and sadly I choose Pino Noir over a brewski most of the time these days. My metabolism can’t quite handle the Double IPA’s and the Belgium Triples I use to throw down often – but that doesn’t mean I still don’t appreciate them from time to time! 

In the winter I am a Porter and Imperial Stout lady, but in the summer I want something light and refreshing! This past weekend we attended the Portland Craft Beer Festival which was walking distance from our apartment and it was spectacular! With 65+ breweries there we tried so many incredible beers, but my favorite of the day was the blueberry muffin sour ale from Great Notion! It wasn’t sweet but it still reminded me of a fresh baked blueberry muffin and was so refreshing for a hot day! Thanks to one of the Festivals sponsors, Bridgeport Brewing, there was an awesome flower wall to promote their seasonal Rosé IPA!

Here is a guide to summer craft beer styles as well as my favorites in each region! I have to be real though and since I am a Florida/Oregon girl all of the South and West beers will be from there 😉 Cheers ya’ll!


Pilsners & American Lagers

These are going to be your lightest beers that are crisp and highly carbonated. The alcohol content is only going to go up to about 5.5% so this is your best beer to drink at the summit after a long hike or on the lake wake-boarding. 

SouthGainesville, FL:  An ode to my homeland and alma mater: Swamphead – Loggerhead Lager 
NortheastBrooklyn, NYBrooklyn Lager– definitely a pizza or burger beer!
Midwest- Kalamazoo, MI: Bell’s Lager of the Lake’s – Never been to the Great Lakes but excited to drink this on one of them the day that I do!
WestPortland, OR: Deschutes Pacific Wonderland – It makes it that much better when the brewery is in your neighborhood!


Sour Ales 

Tart and sour but often refreshing in the summer! Some common styles are Gose, Lambics, and American sours. 

SouthDunedin, FL:  7venth Sun “It Puts the Cucumber on it’s skin or it gets the Gose again”
NortheastBrooklyn, NY:  Evil Twin Mission Gose – Started in Denmark, now in NY
Midwest – Minneapolis, MN: Surly Inside the Upside Down – Imperial Sour…9%…tryyy ittt
WestPortland, OR: 10 Barrel Cucumber Crush – My go-to for a hot day


IPA’s are the top selling craft beer selling around the country and is the most entered category in the Great American Beer Festival. Sometimes IPA’s can be too hoppy for me in the summer, but there’s a ton of sessionable IPA’s to choose from!

South Tampa, FL:  Cigar City Jai Lai – A Floridan favorite
Northeast – Warren, VT – Lawson’s Super Session #2
MidwestChicago, IL: Vallejo IPA – tropical and summery but packs a punch at 6.7%
WestPortland, OR: Bridgeport Rosé IPA– #Roséallday

Summer Wheats

The beer that will get you through the summer heat – think Blue Moon! A way to recognize them is their cloudier appearance. 

South: Tampa, FL: Cigar City Florida Cracker – Another one of my summer faves
Northeast: Cooperstown, NY – Brewery Ommegang Witte Wheat
Midwest: Kalamazoo, MI: Bell’s Oberon – Not summer without this one!
West: Portland, OR: Widmer Hefe – Would this post really be worthy without this classic??


  1. July 13, 2018 / 5:36 pm

    Nice craft beer guide! I still need to try that Bridgeport rosé IPA, as I’m with you: many other IPAs are too hoppy for me in the summer. Keeping this list handy for summer BBQs!

    • Hillary Harper
      July 14, 2018 / 1:04 am

      Thanks Marlynn! If you like a more mild IPA then you’ll love the Rosé IPA!

  2. Meg
    July 13, 2018 / 8:59 pm

    What an awesome list of Summer beers… I will have to give some of these a try! The Bridgeport Rosé IPA sounds amazing!

    • Hillary Harper
      July 14, 2018 / 1:05 am

      You definitely should Meg! It’s so good 🙂

  3. July 14, 2018 / 2:23 am

    With the current summer temperatures I’m craving tart sour beers to refresh me and jolt me from being sleepy from they heat!

    • Hillary Harper
      July 14, 2018 / 4:08 pm

      Definitely agree!

  4. July 14, 2018 / 3:10 pm

    Love this post! Such a great roundup. I’m a huge fan of sour beers! I’ve seen the Cucumber Crush in stores but have been hesitant to try it since I’m not a huge fan of cucumber flavor… Is the flavor really intense? Also, Pfreim makes some of my absolute favorite beers!

    • Hillary Harper
      July 14, 2018 / 4:00 pm

      Hey Erin!! You can definitely taste the cucumber but I would say it doesn’t have that fake cucumber taste..does that make sense? lol It’s delicious! They also were serving an apricot crush at the beer fest that was amazing! I have had Pfeim’s pilsner I believe but I will definitely check out their others!

  5. July 14, 2018 / 4:07 pm

    What a fantastic roundup! My husband is obsessed with Pilsners these days. Going to jot down your favs to find for him! Thanks!

    • Hillary Harper
      July 15, 2018 / 12:36 am

      Thanks Mary!! I hope he likes them 🙂

  6. July 14, 2018 / 4:49 pm

    I also always thought that Guinness was a heavy beer in comparison to Bud Light. That’s crazy that it’s really only a small difference in calories!

    • Hillary Harper
      July 15, 2018 / 12:35 am

      I know right! Obviously it’s maltiness makes it have a richer taste, but it’s actually very light compared to most stouts.

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