Autumn’s technically a month away, but we all know the end of summer is nigh, and Labor Day is almost certainly your last true opportunity for beer-in-hand relaxation in the sunshine before adult responsibility comes calling yet again.
With that in mind, we wanted to revisit some of our favorite summer stories and guides to make the most out of the long holiday weekend. From beer cocktails to seasonal specialties, beach beers and beer-infused barbecue, here’s a guide to all of our favorite summer stories from 2019.
First and foremost, you need a place to drink, and if you live in a coastal state, that means you should be drinking at the beach. Our guide to beach-drinking (without breaking the law) includes a cheat sheet on where open containers are permissible and not-so-permissible, must-have beach gear (now’s the time to splurge on that fancy cooler because YOLO), and a selection of our favorite session beers for all-afternoon imbibing. And if that’s not enough, here’s a few more low-ABV beers we love.
If sand’s not your jam, however, you can bring summer anywhere with a blender and some low-alcohol beer. We are, of course, referring to the beer slushie, the way-less-basic cousin of frosé that’s been popping up on beer bar menus across the country. Wanna make a batch at home? No problem. Customize your own beer slushie with whatever brew you have on hand (but we like a gose, sour, Berliner Weisse, or something of that ilk) and whip it up by the pitcher-ful.
Oh, but you’re too ahead of curve for slushies, are you? Then may we recommend indulging in the strangest yet still strangely satisfying beer trend of summer 2019: the salad beer. Save your oatmeal raisin cookie stouts for cooler weather, because forward-thinking brewers have begun concocting celery-infused goses, cucumber sours, and beers that taste like a Bloody Mary. Call it the summer of the brunch beer.
And speaking of vegetable-forward beers, we’d be negligent if we didn’t remind you of how delicious a chelada can be. We’re not saying 2019 was the year when cheladas peaked—although they certainly got a commercial lift this year—because we love their spicy-sour-sweetness anytime the sun comes out. No matter whether your chelada comes in a can or if you make it yourself with tomato juice and hot sauce, now’s the perfect time to plan a taco night pairing.
And speaking of food, we wouldn’t be talking about summer if we didn’t mention grilling, so we spoke to chefs about the best beer pairings for barbecue. “I always looked at beer as kind of like the pickled ginger in sushi,” says grill master Adam Perry Lang, who prefers uncomplicated lagers with his meats. “It kind of mellows out a lot of those powerful, intensely smoky flavors.” Meanwhile, Publican Quality Meats’ Rob Levitt prefers to put beer in his grilling recipes, including braising ribs in beer before glazing with a beer-y sauce.
If beer-cooked, beer-glazed barbecue and a tall glass of beer slushie doesn’t capture summer, nothing can.