Here in the upper Midwest, the sun returns a lot sooner than warm weather, which seems to heighten the cabin fever that’s been simmering all winter. But when spring finally gets here, “sunny and sixty” is more welcome than any dog day summer has to offer. And that’s when we turn to our favorite summer craft brews.
From tart and fruity to totally nebular, each of these are delicious summer sippers just as much at home in the backyard as on the beach.
Perrin Grapefruit IPA
Thirst-quenching Grapefruit IPA has become Michigan’s warm weather requisite for a balanced and refreshing craft beer. The first of its kind, Grapefruit IPA has aromas of citrus and tropical fruits, a delicate grapefruit tartness, a sweet, malty backbone, and a clean finish. At just 5% ABV, it’s a summer session beer you can relax with all day.
Elysian Space Dust IPA
Space Dust IPA has a light to medium body and pours dark and golden with a thick head. It’s hopped with Chinook hops to bitter, and Citra and Amarillo hops are added late and dry. The result is an intense beer with a strong citrus nose and flavors that include citrus and pine with hints of orange and breadiness that finish light and hoppy. Space Dust is out of this world.
Pairing is always subjective, of course, but the complexity of Space Dust IPA lets you pull out subtle layers by matching it to just the right foods. We think you’ll like to try some of these:
Tacos al Pastor: The citrus and tropical fruit hop notes complement the pineapple. The carbonation cuts the fat.
American Cheddar: Malt flavors complement the cheese while carbonation cuts fat and clears the palate.
Crab Cakes: Citrus hop notes complement lemon tartar sauce while the malt characters complements the crab cake breading. The bitterness cuts the richness.
Fried Eggplant: Malt complements the eggplant batter. Carbonation cuts fat and the bitterness cuts the richness.
Peach Cobbler: Tropical fruit notes complement the sweet peaches and the bitterness cuts through sweetness.
Leinenkugel’s Watermelon Shandy
A traditional shandy is beer mixed with a little something extra, and Watermelon Shandy is Leinenkugel’s delicious rendition that begins with their traditional Weiss beer and is then mixed with the flavor of watermelon. The result is bright, fruity and extremely drinkable. The subtle and refreshing flavor of watermelon makes for an ideal summer beer.
Watermelon Shandy’s floral, slightly tart citrus and sweet watermelon make it an refreshing partner to fresh summer dishes, such as fruits, salads, fresh seafood, sorbets, grilled shrimp, grilled watermelon, and this fantastic grilled corn:
Grilled Corn with Chipotle Butter
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Total Time: 30 min
- 6 ears Corn in their husks
- 5 Tbsp Unsalted butter, softened
- 2 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1 tsp Adobo sauce
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ cup Hard Cotija cheese, crumbled. (Cotija is a Mexican cheese. You can substitute Parmesan or Romano for hard Cotija, but the taste will be somewhat different.)
- 1 Tbsp Cilantro, chopped
- Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium–high heat. Soak corn in water for 10 minutes.
- While the corn is soaking, create the chipotle butter by combining butter, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, and salt in a food processor and pulsing until smooth. Set aside until needed.
- Grill corn for 5 minutes a side until the husks becomes charred and the corn is hot. Allow the corn to rest for 5 minutes then carefully pull back or remove the cornhusks. Spread butter over corn and top with cheese and cilantro. Serve immediately.
Sun King Sunlight Cream Ale
Sunlight is an easy-drinking and refreshing alternative to typical lagers. It’s an excellent introduction to craft beer, but also an agreeable and flavorful go-to when serving a craft-savvy crowd. It’s smooth, malty, not too hoppy or bitter, and has a crisp, clean finish, making it as approachable to craft beer novices as it is appreciated by connoisseurs.
Sunlight’s light and agreeable flavor means it pairs easily with most foods, but the style shines when paired with delicate flavors. Try it with salads, fish and seafood, and egg-based breakfast foods. Sunlight also works well as an ingredient and adds an amazing dimension to these Cream Ale Biscuits:
- 2 cups All-purpose flour, plus ½ cup for dusting
- 8 Tbsp Butter, chilled & diced or grated
- 4 Tbsp Buttermilk powder
- 1 Tbsp Baking powder
- ½ tsp Baking soda
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 Jalapeno, seeded & finely minced (optional)
- 5 oz Jalapeno Cheddar cheese, grated
- 6 oz Sunlight Cream Ale
- In a large bowl combine flour, butter, buttermilk powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, jalapeno and cheese.
- Mix together by hand, until the butter and cheese are just incorporated into the flour mixture. Chill in the freezer for an hour.
- Preheat oven to 450°
- Remove flour mixture from the freezer. Slowly add 4 ounces of Sunlight Cream Ale to the mix. Gently mix by hand. You are looking for a fairly dry mixture. If the mixture is too dry, add remaining Sunlight Cream Ale.
- Turn out onto a clean, floured countertop. Pat the dough lightly by hand to about ½” thick. Cut biscuits with a 2″ cutter, place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 14-18 minutes.