We have reached it: that time in the year when it starts to get really, almost unbearably hot. There is certainly more than one way to handle the scorching summer about to consume Austin. Taking daily trips to Barton Springs Pool. Wearing sleeveless shirts and sandals. Never, ever leaving the house. But having a nice, cold beer is the most fun, isn't it? Of course it is.
Local brewers have to endure the same triple-digit temperatures as everyone else, so they know what we want to drink: crisp lagers, sour beers and fruited wheat ales, to name a notable few. Those styles are exactly what we're getting this summer, as any cursory look at the beer fridge at H-E-B will tell you. But which ones should you seek out for backyard barbecues or on the patio of your favorite neighborhood bar?
These. Drink these Austin options.
Austin Beerworks Einhorn Berliner Weisse trio: It turns out there's only one thing more popular than Einhorn, the tart wheat beer Austin Beerworks releases to great demand every summer — the fruited versions of this low-on-alcohol ale. Once taproom-only, three of them have been canned and released in place of the regular ol' Einhorn: Tropical, Sour Cherry and Ginger Lime. They're all distinct but complementary, and you can even feel free to mix the latter two to get a cherry limeade.
Blue Owl Brewing Cool & the Gang: A sour summer beer with Earl Grey tea might sound like an odd bird, but just think of the flavor profile of an Arnold Palmer (iced tea plus lemonade). And now picture yourself drinking Cool & the Gang on your porch this summer as the lightning bugs flicker to life around the yard. Into it yet? Thought so. The beer, a collaboration with East Austin neighbor Lazarus Brewing, is in cans available at the brewery and around town.
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The Brewtorium's Dad Jokes Mexican Lager: Father's Day may have passed, but our grudging affection for the corny puns our old man makes is eternal. So is my father's love of Corona Extra. I think he'd appreciate this craft version of the Mexican lager made with corn and available on draft and in very limited cans at the large German beer hall-like brewpub. (Those cans might already be sold out, but the draft version should linger.)
Circle Brewing Fanny Pack Kolsch: Some of the cans of this summer seasonal have been redesigned with a rainbow color scheme this year, in support of LGBTQ rights. (June is Pride Month, and a portion of the proceeds from every case sold goes to Equality Texas.) Regardless of which version of the six-pack is available at your grocery store, you'll want the kolsch because — as a lager-like ale — it finishes crisp and clean, leaving you feeling more refreshed with every sip.
Independence Brewing Freak Power Blood Orange Hefeweizen: Made in the hopes of inspiring voter engagement in this age of polarizing politics — "Freak Power" is a nod to Hunter S. Thompson — the hefeweizen isn't a style of beer that head brewer Brannon Radicke typically cares for. But those blood oranges provided a citrus kick that completely changed his mind about this one, cutting into the sweetness of the wheat beer and drying out the finish.
Oasis, Texas Brewing El Grito Göse Lager: Besides beer, what do Austinites like to drink? Margaritas, obviously. The Lake Travis-area brewery combines the best qualities of both drinks in this unusual brew. Made with fresh lime juice and sea salt, El Grito is both tart (the gose side) and crisp (the lager aspect). The German gose is supposed to be both sour and salty, but that clean finish is entirely thanks to Oasis' skillful use of the lagering process.
Real Ale Skullberry Strawberry Milkshake IPA: No, an IPA is not exactly what comes to mind when you're thinking of a beer that will help 100-degree weather seem tolerable in the middle of July. But thanks to the additions of lactose — which softens the mouthfeel — and fresh strawberry puree and vanilla, there's a gentle sweetness that complements the crisp finish. You might call the Skullberry the adult version of the cold, creamy milkshakes you loved as a kid.
Skull Mechanix Wahrsager Northern German-Style Pilsner: For me, pilsners are the ultimate summer beer. Light, crisp and bright, with an assertive hop bitterness, this one from the laid-back South Austin brewery exemplifies why. It might be as close to a liquid antidote to triple-digit temperatures as we're going to get without counting water. (And hey, lagers are pretty much 99 percent water, anyway.)
Uncle Billy's Boysenberry Berliner Weisse: Like Austin Beerworks, head brewer Stephen Wagner appreciates the blank slate aspect of this German-style sour wheat beer, and he came up with his own take on it using the maroon-colored boysenberry, a tart cross between the raspberry and blackberry. Already, this vibrant pink beer has become a hit at the Barton Springs brewery, and Wagner expects it'll be on tap all summer long.
If you're feeling really adventurous, order the summer-only White Stout for your next round at Uncle Billy's. The color of a blonde ale, it lacks the roasted malts that give a porter or stout its dark-as-night hue, but to impart the stout's expected robust flavors, Wagner aged it on cocoa nibs and whole coffee beans. He also used one of the most full-bodied malt out there, Maris Otter. And he's hoping you haven't had anything like it before.