I drink more wheat beers in the summertime than any other style. The combination of balance, moderate body and alcohol, and food-friendliness makes them just about perfect no matter what the warm-weather occasion. But wheat beer wasn’t always an option: Back in the dark ages of drinking beer in America, your choices for summer-centric brews were more or less limited to Bud Lite, Miller Lite and the rest of their domestic lower-cal brethren. Even—may the good lord on high forgive us for the range of our alcoholic sins—Corona Light. (There were others, of course, but you get the idea.)
Then along came wheat beers, and suddenly everything, as the old songs go, changed. For most of us, the first brick came down from the wall with an innocent-seeming sip of Hoegaarden, followed by a bewildered gaze at its hazy flank alongside the length of the glass. Maybe there was an orange slice bobbing up and down in there; maybe not. Regardless, here was a beer that was fruity and friendly and easy on the palate, yet full of character and presence. And it joined forces beautifully with everything from a summer salad to a burger.
Fast-forward to 2014, and there are seemingly more excellent wheat beers than there are beer drinkers. At Growlers alone, Allagash White, Weyerbacher Sun Wit, Long Trail Belgian White, Victory Swing Session Saison, and Evil Genius I Love Lamp Pineapple Hefeweizen are all on offer—and that’s just the drafts.
“I love the wheat beers during warmer weather,” Growlers’ owner Jay Willard says, “for two reasons. Personally, I love the taste and body during hot days. From a business perspective, I love them because people drink the shit out of them!” It’s hard to argue with either point.
Whatever you’re eating, or even if you’re doing nothing more strenuous than sitting around and swimming through the summer’s unavoidable heat and humidity, there is a wheat brew out there that’s perfect for the moment. From bars and restaurants to the many ambitious bottle shops around town and beyond, make this the summer you fully explore the range of wheat beers. There’s no better time to do so than right now.