James Dickinson photo
When Mother Nature turns up the heat, many beer lovers turn to lighter styles to quench the thirst that summer's dog days bring. But soothing parched throats doesn't require sacrificing flavor, for brewers have crafted a variety of lagers and ales to satisfy the most discriminating palates. Some seasonals explore various spices or citrusy ingredients, but there are plenty of year-round brews suitable for summer, too. —
Can it be summer without at least one session of sitting on the deck at Legend Brewing Co., quaffing a pint of golden lager (pictured) as a James River breeze tickles the umbrellas? This crisp, medium-bodied beer has become an enduring icon of Central Virginia's brewing scene. 321 W. Seventh St., 232-3446.
Northern Lights India Pale Ale
Not overly hopped as far as IPAs go, this brew from Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet has just enough zing to perk up the taste buds but sufficient malts for balance. We enjoyed a pint at Capital Ale House's Midlothian location. 13831 Village Place Drive, 780-ALES (2537).
This classic Belgian golden ale offers a treat that transcends seasons. From the thick, luxurious head to the floral nose to the slightly bitter finish, Duvel represents a pinnacle of brewing artistry. We paired it with Vietnamese cuisine at Mekong. 6004 W. Broad St., 288-8929.
Victory Summer Love Ale
This Pennsylvania product uses American and German whole-flower hops to obtain a lemony zest. I picked up a six-pack at Once Upon a Vine's Stratford Hills location. 2817 Hathaway Road, 864-9463.
Bell's Oberon Ale
Summer cries out for the crispness of wheat beers, and Oberon Ale answers by combining Belgian wheat malt with Saaz hops for a tangy palate perk-me-up. Available on draft at (among other places) Commercial Taphouse & Grill. 111 N. Robinson St., 359-6544.