Finding your perfect summer beer is tricky. There's mowing-the-lawn summer, and grilling-a-steak summer (not to mention eating-a-steak summer). We recommend versatility – lighter wheats for days that feel like open oven doors, sharper beers for shady moments and meals by torchlight. To that end, here are our five favorite summer beers. Unless noted, prices range from $7 to $10 for a four-pack. Peter St. Onge
1. Harvest Fresh Hop Ale
Sierra Nevada Brewing, Calif., $5 for a 24-ounce bottle.
This brew will fill your mouth, first with citrusy and floral hops, then with a smooth, malty finish. Hard to find, but worth it.
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2. Allagash White
From Allagash Brewing, Maine.
Our No. 1 pick last summer. A witbeir – Belgian with a wheat base – Allagash White is aggressively spiced with coriander, which gives way to semi-sweet malts. Complex yet light, it's the most versatile of summer beers.
3. Festina Peche
From Dogfish Head, Del.
The first of two summer fruit entries – and it can't be done better than this. Festina Peche is a Berliner Weisse, a wheat ale known for its sour taste. Fermented with peach concentrate, this is a wonderfully understated blend of tart and sweet.
4. Shining Rock Lager,
From Highland Brewing, Asheville.
This local entry is one of Highland's best – a clean lager with a pronounced caramel maltiness and nutty finish. A nice complement to burgers or steak.
5. Summer Shandy
From Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing, Wisc.
Fruit beers are a popular style this year as brewers adapt to a worldwide hops shortage. The lemon tames the bitterness (perhaps too much) but this will go quickly at your next party.