Summer is a time for barbecues, sailing, excessive sunscreen, and cracking open a few ice-cold beverages to help dilute the ceaseless heat. College students are home and families are taking trips to the most quintessential summer destination in the U.S.: Florida. Heat waves feed the hurricanes that are just as much a part of Florida culture as are the 1,300 miles of tropical coastline and world-renowned theme parks that grace the heart and literal center of the peninsular state.
And as only true Floridians will demonstrate, we fear not the mighty storms that are meticulous in their efforts to dismantle every structure in their wake. Although we may board up our windows, on the inside we throw hurricane parties and ride out the storm with great conversation and hopefully, great Florida beer.
So whether you’re setting sail on any one of Florida’s endless waterways, posting up on a beach somewhere with friends, taking in the sun, watching the surf, or throwing a spontaneous get-together in honor of being granted a Wednesday off due to torrential downpours and upwards of 100-mile-an-hour winds, be sure to stock your fridges with some of Florida’s best summer beers.
Walking Tree’s Sandy Feet is an American wheat ale with some mild fruit notes and floral hops that help it go down easy with a surprisingly high (for a wheat ale) 6.40% ABV. It is incredibly balanced and is a core beer at Walking Tree that can be enjoyed year-round, but definitely goes best on a hot day in the Florida sun.
So as the name suggests, head on down to the beach that is only five miles away from Walking Tree Brewery on North Hutchinson Island and dig your toes into the sand to have a couple of easy-to-drink wheat ales from the Vero Beach brewing company.
There is no more Floridian brewing company than Funky Buddha and there is no more Floridian style of beer than the German-native hefeweizen that seems to perfectly compliment the salty sea air that blankets the entire state. And since there is no more Floridian season than summer and no more Floridian Funky Buddha brew than their Floridian Hefeweizen then I do declare that Funky Buddha’s Floridian is the greatest representation of a Florida summer that could ever be harnessed in a can.
At a retiree-friendly 5.20% ABV and available in just about every corner of the great state, this unfiltered wheat beer is so easy to enjoy that it will keep you coming back for more all summer long.
Big Storm is operating out of Odessa, Florida and is one of those brewing companies that really has taken on the meaning of being Floridian. From their can designs, to their beer names, to the relaxing ambiance that can be found in any of their three taproom locations, Big Storm has proven to be an advocate for kicking back, relaxing, and having some delicious beer. And if the summer months should render you thirsty, their Tropic Pressure Florida Ale is a perfect August brew.
Brewed with hibiscus flowers and a touch of spice, Tropic Pressure is very enjoyable and just sweet enough to make you forget why you needed to have that relaxing day off in the first place. Key Lime Shandy is another great summer brew that Big Storm is dishing out currently.
If you haven’t had enough of the wheat beers yet, here’s one to squeeze in while you still can because it might only be around for a limited time. Ocean Sun’s Conch Cruiser is an incredibly mild but delicious seasonal hefeweizen that is currently on tap at the brewery that has a lot to offer in the way of variety and excitement.
Conch Cruiser isn’t one of Ocean Sun’s core beers but the season has just begun and should be available for the foreseeable future. It’s everything that a light beer should be, and nothing that gives “light beer” its bad name.
Straying not too far from the hefeweizen style, Cigar City’s Florida Cracker is basically the same style of beer but from a Belgian lineage. It’s a cloudy, nicely spiced beer with a good amount of citrus notes so you should be able to taste some orange, lemon, or lime in a most refreshing way. It has a relatively low 5.50% ABV despite a sweetness that one might accidentally associate with a higher alcohol content.
Florida Cracker is available year-round in the Tampa based taproom and is distributed throughout much of the state. It is best enjoyed in the summer months but since it’s always summer in Florida, enjoy it all year long.
In case you’ve finally had enough of the wheat beers, here’s a recommendation that’s totally different in terms of palate. Idyll Hounds’ Ghost Crab Pilsna is a Bohemian Pilsener characterized by a slightly darker color than the traditional German Pilsner. It also has a slightly sweeter taste to it that makes it very drinkable in a casual setting.
Although its 4.50% ABV might suggest that this beer is lacking in terms of richness, Idyll Hounds’ head brewer Frasier Hansen was able to pack a rather full array of flavors into this incredibly light and refreshing beer. It is available year-round, but with limited distribution I’d say it’s best to take a summer trip up to the panhandle or stop here on your way into the state and give some of their excellent summery selections a try.
Reverting back to the style of beer that has taken the entire nation by storm, here’s an IPA from Playlinda Brewing that won’t overwhelm you with hops on a crisp summer day. Instead, it will provide you with a splash of juicy, citric goodness that won’t let you forget why this is sometimes called “The Orange State.”
Boasting a moderate 6.60% ABV for its IPA heritage, it’s not one of the beers you want to drink a 6-pack of but instead something to be enjoyed at the cleverly named and magnificently designed Playalinda Hardware Store or outdoors at their Brix Project beer garden with your favorite four-legged friend.
Another brew from the pilsner family, this is a German-style pilsner that is much lighter in color, and as you might be able to tell, lighter beers are usually the ones more associated with the summer months. One of the core beers at Sailfish Brewing, Billfish has been decently distributed especially in the Central Florida area and could easily be enjoyed year-round.
As a pilsner, it should be appealing to all ranges of beer enthusiasts but the best part about Billfish Pils is that a portion of every sale goes to The Billfish Foundation, working tirelessly to help advance the conservation of billfish and associated species. Enjoy on a boat with some friends while spotting some sailfish gracefully jetting through the crystal clear Atlantic water.
Opening a brewing company in the Florida Keys and calling it Florida Keys Brewing is inherently about the most Floridian thing you can do, but going a step further to create a taproom that is completely Key-like in terms of aesthetic and becoming a valued member of the community is another thing entirely. And one of Florida Keys Brewing’s best summer beers comes in the form of Iguana Belt, a kolsch style beer brewed with hibiscus that is very refreshing.
Taking its name from the clever lizards that inhabit the narrow islands, feasting on the vibrant flowers that we’d all agree are tasty, this low 5.20% ABV brew is very refreshing although limited in its distribution.
The Wynwood neighborhood of Miami might be most known for its art—especially its renowned Wynwood Walls—but just a short 8-minute walk away is a quaint little taproom and brewery known as Wynwood Brewing Company that has adopted the artists’ mentality using some very graffiti-inspired can designs and decor. And one of their best beers for the summer is La Rubia American Blonde Ale.
With a very low ABV this incredibly drinkable, light beverage is not so complex in character that it makes you think too much about what you’re doing. It’s a beer for taking your mind off of things and simply enjoying the warm Florida sun with a cold summer ale.
There is no limit to what you can do in Florida in the summer, just as there is no limit to sunshine in this great state. Whether you’re on a boat, at the beach, at a spring or a park, the sun will always be there and in your heart, it will always be summer.
And if you chose to help the day along with a refreshing Florida craft beer, do so properly and elect to order some of these fine beers that would each make a perfect companion to sun rays and lazy days, with great friends and great conversations.