Whether you crack one open while trimming the yard or sip on one as you fire up the grill among friends, the light lager is one of the best summer beers. Crisp and refreshing, the beer — we’re talking lagers that are golden or pale in color, easy on the hops, and low in ABV — are ideal to drink under the punishing summer sun. Without getting too technical, a lager becomes a lager through the fermentation process. The yeast used in making the style of beer can’t tolerate as much alcohol, and fermentation happens at cooler temperatures than ales. That’s how you end up with a lower ABV and a lighter beer all around.
Low ABV definitely doesn’t mean low on flavor. Brewers use special touches that add and nuance to each bottle, and the best are distinct in the notes they contain. Regardless, the best light lagers are crisp, refreshing, and very drinkable. They’re much easier to imbibe than, say, a hop-packed IPA, and you can put a few away without fear of a nasty hangover. In short? No summer cooler should be without them. Below are eight light lagers to seek out this summer, from classics to new favorites.
A summer classic, and as traditional a light lager as you're likely to find. First brewed in the late 1800s, it has a storied history — hell, in the 1930s, Dr. Seuss drew some of the original artwork for their mascot, Chief Gansett — and a huge cult following. Mellow with only a slight bit of bitterness, it's a great choice on a hot day.
If you want an alternative to, say, Corona or Michelob Ultra, here’s the brew for you. Best enjoyed on the beach or on the water, this is a flavorful lager meant to deliver classic refreshment without getting you sauced, thanks to the easily drinkable 4.5 percent ABV.
Best known for its iconic Pale Ale (also a surprisingly solid summer beer), the California brewery is trying its hand at a new take on the cerveza. At 5 percent ABV, this is a well-balanced lager that even says “easy-drinking” right on the can. The specs on this beer make it more than ideal for summertime imbibing.
Can you blame us for including a tried-and-true favorite? PBR is a beer that’s been through it all. It’s still a crushable summer sipper, with just a bit of sweetness and a touch of grain-like flavor. Best of all, it goes down smooth after a day in the yard.
The radler style blends lager and citrus juice (anything from grapefruit to lime) for a refreshing, effervescent kick traditionally blending two parts beer, one part citrus. By definition, the radler isn’t a classic lager, but House Beer’s flagship brew is ideal for those who like their beer with even more flavor. Turn to this refreshing beer to stock your cooler for days when the sun won’t let up.
Lagers are clean in flavor and mouthfeel, and New Belgium goes all-in on this approach, using pristine mountain water, plus organic malted barley and hops. Talk about pure. The famed craft brewer puts it all together to brew up a highly drinkable lager that clocks in at under 100 calories.
Ray Catcher has a little something extra when lined up against the other lagers on this list. It’s brewed with lemongrass, lending it some slight, citrusy sweetness. Bring this beer to an outdoor BBQ, and be sure your host gets one.
Threes Brewing, out of Brooklyn, has perfected the art of the nuanced lager. It’s so nuanced that you get tasting notes ranging from white grape to Wonder Bread (yes, that’s right). The ABV is a very agreeable 5 percent, too.