Question: Which drink pairs best with swimming pools, sunny patios and backyard barbecues?
Answer: All the beers.
Whether you like to sip your brews from stemmed glassware in a dark, air-conditioned bar or from a koozie-coated can on a boat, this thirst-quenching roundup of local summer beers is for you.
On tap: An award-winning Lawrence lager brewed with basil, a hoppy North Kansas City elixir with a hint of honeydew melon and a new Boulevard beer bursting with juicy grapefruit flavor.
Not into fruity beers? Fear not. Local breweries are also producing refreshing twists on traditional farmhouse ales and pilsners that will please purists.
Go ahead, dive in.
Cinder Block Brewery’s Hop Maven #6
The latest installment in Cinder Block’s Hop Maven series, Hop Maven #6, is a cross between a lager and an IPA. The straw-colored brew gets sunny tropical flavors from Citra, El Dorado, and Huell Melon hops, a German variety that tastes a bit like honeydew melon and strawberry. The lager balances out the hops, which makes for a refreshing summer sipper. At 5.4 percent alcohol by volume, Hop Maven #6 is light enough to justify refills: Grab a $6.50 pint and an Adirondack chair on Cinder Block’s patio and your lazy Saturday is set.
Cinder Block Brewery is located at 110 E. 18th Ave. The taproom is open 4-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and noon-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Tallgrass Brewing Co.’s Raspberry Jam
In 2015, Tallgrass Brewing Co. opened a brewpub in downtown Manhattan and started experimenting with small batches of new recipes. One of Tallgrass Tap House brewmaster Brandon Gunn’s most successful experiments was Raspberry Jam, a crowd-pleasing German-style sour wheat ale brewed with raspberries. The berries amp up the beer’s natural tartness, which makes for a crisp, clean finish with just enough raspberry flavor to tickle the taste buds.
This spring, Tallgrass added Raspberry Jam to its Explorer Series lineup and started widely distributing the ale in 12-ounce cans. The swirly, psychedelic design is hard to miss — look for it through July at Kansas City-area bars and liquor stores that carry Tallgrass beer.
Stockyards Brewing Co.’s Bohemian-style Pilsner
In April, Stockyards Brewing Co. opened in the former Golden Ox building at 1600 Genessee St. in the West Bottoms. The 15-barrel brewery serves up several full-flavored beers, including a malty Black IPA and Brunch Stout that tastes like cold-brewed coffee. Summer brews include West Hef, a hazy unfiltered wheat beer bursting with ripe banana flavor, and the newly released Bohemian-style Pilsner, a traditional European recipe that incorporates Bohemian Pilsner malt and Czech Saaz hops. The hops lend complex earthy, floral flavor to the beer, which has little in common with the watered-down pilsners widely available in America.
Stockyards’ taproom is open from 4-11 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, noon-midnight Friday-Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday.
Kansas City Bier Co.’s Der Bauer
On June 9, Kansas City Bier Co. tapped a fresh farmhouse ale called Der Bauer. Farmhouse ales originated in Belgium and France, but Der Bauer is an American beer made with German ingredients such as Mandarina Bavaria hops, known for their tropical fruit aromas.
Der Bauer ($5.25 for a 12-ounce pour) is pale, crisp and bubbly, with a white head of foam. At 7.75 percent alcohol by volume, it’s no lightweight. Its bright, peppery flavor makes it a good match for food: Try it with a jalapeno brat on a Farm to Market bun ($4.25) at KC Bier Co.’s tasting room, 310 W. 79th St. in Waldo. The tasting room is open 4-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 2-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sunday.
Torn Label Brewing Co.’s Tongue-Lash
Usually, hoppy and sour flavors don’t mix. But the East Crossroads brewery Torn Label has managed to do the impossible with Tongue-Lash, a dry-hopped sour ale overflowing with fresh tangerine and grapefruit flavors. The juicy, refreshing beer is brewed using a process called kettle-souring, which produces sour beer more quickly than the traditional method, which involves months of barrel-aging.
At 5.1 percent alcohol by volume, Tongue-Lash is a good introduction to sour beers for newbies. Look for it in 22-ounce bottles and on draft at Kansas City-area bars that serve Torn Label beer. Tongue-Lash is also available for $5 per 12-ounce pour at Torn Label’s taproom, 1708 Campbell St. The taproom, a wood-walled hideaway designed by artist Peter Warren, is open 5-10 p.m. Thursday, 5 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday.
Boulevard Brewing Co.’s Tropical Pale Ale
Boulevard’s newest year-round beer is an unexpected pick for a Midwestern brewery. Tropical Pale Ale is a fruit pale ale inspired by a previous collaboration with Cigar City Brewing of Tampa, Fla. The beer, now available on draft and in pink flamingo-colored cans at Kansas City-area bars and liquor stores, gets its punchy flavor from grapefruit and passion fruit. According to Boulevard, Tropical Pale Ale pairs well with Caribbean food, grilled citrus chicken and sharp Cheddar cheese.
Tropical Pale Ale is 5.9 percent alcohol by volume. If you’re looking for something lighter, try the lemonade-like Ginger-Lemon Radler, which weighs in at 4.1 ABV. The recipe involves spiking Unfiltered Wheat with zesty lemon and ginger juice.
According to the brewery, it pairs well with watermelon, fried chicken and “your favorite watering hole” — but it’s also great on a patio. Try it at Bier Station, 120 E. Gregory Blvd., which recently expanded its patio and added a retractable waterproof canopy.
Crane Brewing’s Tea Weiss
This could be the most buzz-worthy Kansas City collaboration beer since Chocolate Ale: Raytown-based Crane Brewing is using KC’s own Hugo Tea to make Tea Weiss, a tea-infused beer. Berry rooibos tea added in the secondary fermentation lends lemongrass and floral hibiscus flavors to the tart base of Berliner Weiss. The tea infusion also produces a light pink hue that should please rosé drinkers. At 4.1 percent alcohol by volume, Tea Weiss is an excellent thirst quencher on 90-degree days.
Crane’s other poolside-perfect brews include Kumquat Weiss, brewed with sour, citrusy kumquats, and Grapefruit Gose, a salty and sour German-style beer made with fresh grapefruit zest. Crane beer is available on tap and in 750-milliliter bottles at KC-area bars and liquor stores. The brewery also has a taproom at 6515 Railroad St. in Raytown that’s open from 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, 2-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
Free State Brewing Co.’s Garden Party Lager
If fruity beers aren’t your thing, head to Lawrence’s Free State Brewing Co. and ask the beertender for a Garden Party, a light-bodied lager that gets savory summer flavor from local cucumbers, basil and spicy juniper berries. Last year, the beer won a gold medal in the herb and spice beer category at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver — so it’s kind of a big deal.
At 4.84 percent alcohol by volume, Garden Party goes down easy, especially when you drink one on Free State’s shaded patio. You can also buy the beer, which is part of Free State’s limited edition Front Porch Series, on tap at KC-area bars and in six-packs at local liquor stores. Look for the green label, which features a dapper-looking rabbit clutching a basil plant and a cucumber sandwich.
12 more summer brews
Mother’s Brewing Co., based in Springfield, Mo., recently released Grapefruit Wheat, the latest in its Backyard Beers series.
Martin City Brewing Co., 500 E. 135th St., offers a new low-alcohol Berliner Weisse brewed with blueberries and lemons. And file this under things that make you say “om”: Martin City also makes a gluten-free beer called Yoga Pants.
McCoy’s Public House, 4057 Pennsylvania Ave., recently tapped Ursa Minor Imperial Brown Ale, a rich and creamy brew with chocolate and caramel flavor that’s 10.2 percent alcohol by volume. The strong ale won a gold medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.
23rd Street Brewery, 3512 Clinton Parkway in Lawrence, offers a Locals Only IPA and Strawberry Rhubarb Radler, which blends wheat beer with strawberry-rhubarb soda.
Double Shift Brewing Co., 412 E. 18th St., has a Cherry Saison on tap through July. Each batch is brewed with 24 pounds of sweet cherry puree and 10 pounds of black cherry puree. The beer costs $6.
Border Brewing Co., 406 E. 18th St., plans to release a Strawberry Blonde ale in early July. It’s the latest in Border’s #webrew4you series, in which each release is determined by customer votes.
Red Crow Brewing Co., 20561 S. Lone Elm Road in Spring Hill, Kan., recently released Norma Jean, a traditional Belgian Wit made with pomegranate juice.
The Big Rip Brewing Co., 216 E. Ninth Ave. in North Kansas City, has several summer brews in the works, including the Great Conjunction Cherry Hefe, a wheat beer brewed with dark sweet cherries, a mango-infused West Coast-style IPA called Aisle 12, and Blueberry Kolsch, brewed with 15 pounds of blueberries.