Victory Brewing Company Cage Radler

3% ABV

For many years the Germans have concocted Radlers, a 50/50 mix of sparkling sweet lemonade or soda and lager beer, to sip during the warmer summer months. This mixing was a way for them to get around violating the German Purity Law of 1516 known as Reinheinsgebot, an actual law that requires beer only contain malt, hops, water and yeast that is still largely followed to this day. Victory Brewing Company out of Downingtown, PA has created its own spin on the German classic, Cage Radler, a sweet mix of a light lager and lemon extract. I found it quite refreshing and at only 3%, a drink I could handle more than a couple cans of. It reminds me more of a lemon soda than beer, but if you take it for what it is, you’ll probably find it an enjoyable thirst quencher. In homage to the German tradition of the radler drink, it is brewed with Pilsner malt, Tettnang and Mittelfruh German Noble hops, and the can fittingly depicts cyclists, for radler is German for cyclist.

Widmer Brothers Brewing Hefe

4.9% ABV

Marketed as “The Original American Hefeweizen,” Widmer has a right to make such a proclamation, as this beer was one of the Portland, Oregon brewery’s first two beers when it was first brewed in 1986 during America’s craft brewing infancy. Now 30 years later this beer remains an iconic brew and the benchmark for the American hefeweizen style, which is typified by an unfiltered cloudy appearance, citrus notes, bready complexity and easy-drinking crispness. Founding brothers Kurt and Rob Widmer originally left the beer unfiltered to save space and time, at a time when nearly all beer was crystal clear. Like German hefes, it 50% wheat, resulting in a lighter hued brew, but distinctive about the American version is that the yeast does not impart flavors of banana and clove like its German cousins. Although many beer purists like myself eschew inserting a lemon into a hefeweizen, in the case of this American classic I give my permission, for it helps to enhance the citrusy lemon character of the Cascade hops, and there are none of the aforementioned banana and clove flavors to mask. It’s postulated that the practice of adding the lemon began at the Dublin Pub in Portland, the establishment the Widmer brothers originally made this beer for and the first to serve it. Here’s a Prost! to an American craft beer icon.

Devils Backbone Brewing Company Trail Angel Weiss

4.7% ABV

Bavarian-style Hefeweizens are known for imparting a distinctive clove, banana flavor and this new release from the up-and-coming Devils Backbone Brewing Company from the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains in the Virginia Heartland fits the bill lemon is definitely verboten in this one!. In addition, some sour and tart notes help to put this beer into the out-of-the-ordinary and unique category, with a citrus kick and acidity not found in most Bavarian hefes, finished with a crispness that makes this an easy drinking summer quencher that would be great to enjoy after a day of hiking. Its name and image on the label of a hiking boot with angel wings is a tribute to the storied history coming from the Appalachian Trail—the trail that extends from Georgia to Maine—as hikers who experienced random acts of kindness dubbed those who helped out Trail Angels. Fittingly, the brewery is located just a few miles from Reed’s Gap, a crossing on the Trail. Devils Backbone provides a map and phone number on the bottom of its six packs for thru-hikers to call them for a lift, and each year the brewery gives hundreds of thru-hikers rides to and from Basecamp to help them on their journey.

Stone Brewing Company Citrusy Wit

5.3% ABV

Belgian-style Wits are traditionally brewed with coriander and orange peel and are lightly hopped, but in this Stone version the coriander is joined with tangerine peel and kaffir lime leaf to punch it up with even more intense citrus flavor. And, as Stone is known to do, it is assertively hopped, specifically with Magnum, Centennial, Amarillo and the new German Mandarina Bavaria, a hop known for its tangerine-like flavor, providing even more citrusy character. The end result is a beer packed with flavor and complexity. What else would you expect from a Stone beer?