Now that we've had at least a handful of hot days this year, it seems appropriate to ask an important question: What qualities make a great summer beer? People like things on the lighter and more refreshing end of the spectrum to accompany our two to three months of sunlight, and the best ones tend to be low in alcohol, crisp, easy to drink in larger quantities without feeling kicked in the stomach or like one needs a nap, and generally easy to take outside.
While there's always ubiquitous lager-style beers (domestic macros will do, but New Belgium's Shift is seriously great and shouldn't be overlooked) and pale ales, gose and Berliner weisse are all but perfect summer drinking to me. Both styles possess a definitive tartness, tend to stay within a manageable 3 to 4.5 percent alcohol by volume, and, unlike many tart beers, which can take years to ferment and cost upwards of $20 per bottle, tend to be reasonably priced. Since both are German in origin and just somewhat recently finding an American audience as the appetite for sours grows, only a handful of local-ish options exists: Seattle's finer bars get Cascade Brewing's seasonal goses from time to time, and Fremont Brewing's Sour Kettle, their first Berliner, was released earlier this year, though to this palate it was too close to a lactic-acid-infused take on 77, their spring session IPA.
The newest and most portable solution, however, is probably Boonville, California, brewery Anderson Valley's gose, which beats them all predominantly via convenience: It comes in canned six-packs for about $10, making it cheaper and easier to transport than anything else in town right now. In keeping with the style, it comes in at 4.2 percent, and it's predictably thin but sufficiently tart and very salty (salt being one of gose's signature qualities). It'll probably drink great at any of our fine beaches between now and September.