A big trend in craft beers today is loading IPAs to the hilt with hops. There's nothing wrong with that, but when the weather turns hot and you want to relieve that heat by tossing back a beer or two, those big, bitter beauties can be a bit much. Enter the summer brew, lighter in flavor and lower in alcohol. Here are three worthy examples in three different sizes.
DuPont Avril Biere de Table, $8.49-$10.99
This Belgian brew comes in a cork-finished, 750 ml. bottle, and weighs in at an eminently drinkable 3.9 percent alcohol. In the glass, it's a cloudy, pale blonde with a thick egg-white head that shows exceptional retention. You get fruity, floral aromas on the nose, backed by touches of lemon zest, white pepper and spicy yeast. Black pepper and citrus zest color the fresh and fruity palate.
Deschutes River Ale, $1.39-$1.79
A crystal clear, golden pour with a thin head, this beer offers beautiful, soft floral hop and grain aromas, with bright citrus lurking in the background. The flavors are light and unchallenging, but in a good way. It's impeccably balanced with just the right hit of hops, while sweet whole wheat plays against a core of smooth citrus. This brew finishes dry with a dollop of ripe lemon. Bet you can't drink just one, and at 4 percent alcohol, feel free to indulge.
10 Barrel Swill, $3.79-$4.69
This beer pours a hazy straw color with a decent head that fades quickly. At first sniff, it's a little funky--something like cooked Brussels sprouts--but it's nothing unpleasant and fades quickly. What's left is reserved citrus and grain. The surprising palate is an eye-opening mix, where lime and grapefruit soda meet easy-drinking wheat beer. This 22-ouncer finishes with creamy citrus and a kiss of hops. It's decidedly different and definitely delicious.