There’s nothing better than beating summer heat than jumping into a frigid lake. Whether you have your own family lake house, like to spend weekends taking advantage of your friend’s boat, or are heading to a nearby lake for a long-weekend trip, you need a cooler packed with the best lake beers. That’s nonnegotiable.
Since the weather can be brutally hot, leave the barrel-aged stouts, porters, Scotch ales, Belgian tripels, and other dark beers to age in your basement. Instead, opt for light, crisp, easy-drinking brews like IPAs, pale ales, pilsners, lagers, and wheat beers.
While we do believe you should pick your favorite beer for your lakeside stay, we figured you could use a little help finding some new favorites. Here are the 10 best lake beers to drink now (remember to imbibe responsibly if you’re boating or engaging in water sports).
1. North Coast Scrimshaw
Ask a bartender or brewer to tell you their favorite summer beer and you’re sure to get a few who reference North Coast Scrimshaw. This beer, brewed with Munich malt as well as Hallertauer and Tettnang hops, was made to pay tribute to the intricate carving art of 1800s whalers. It’s known for its crisp, dry, clean, refreshing flavor.
[$10.99 for a six-pack; totalwine.com]
2. Bell’s Lager of the Lakes
A beer that was literally brewed to be enjoyed on one of the Great Lakes…how can you go wrong? This crisp, easy-drinking pilsner pays tribute to the classic Czech-style lagers that came before it. For how light and refreshing it is, it’s also surprisingly well-balanced between sweet malts and earthy, floral, slightly bitter hops.
[$11.50 for a six-pack; totalwine.com]
3. Sierra Nevada Tropical Torpedo
Sure, you can opt for Sierra Nevada’s original Torpedo, or you can grab its summery tropical cousin. Sierra Nevada’s classic Torpedo is a 7.2 percent dry-hopped adventure. It’s brewed with Honey, Munich, Two-row Pale, and Wheat malt, as well as Amarillo, Citra, Comet, El Dorado, and Mosaic hops. The result is a memorable IPA with notes of passionfruit, mango, pineapple, and piney hops.
[$8.99 for a six-pack; totalwine.com]
4. Schilling Alexandr
When it comes to summer beers, it’s tough to top the Czech-style pilsner. One of the best is Alexandr from New Hampshire’s Schilling Beer Co. This sessionable pale lager is brewed with Moravian Pilsner malt. It’s known for its complex, well-balanced flavor profile and crisp, refreshing finish. It’s the kind of beer you’ll drink all summer long.
[$13.99 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans; totalwine.com]
5. Firestone Walker Pivo
The best thing about Firestone Walker’s iconic Pivo is how it turns the pilsner style on its head. Instead of simply opting for a crisp, well-rounded summer sipper, the brewers at California’s Firestone Walker created a now-often-imitated, dry-hopped pilsner that’s highlighted by citrus, floral, and slightly piney, hoppy flavors.
[$10.50 for a six-pack; drizly.com]
6. Rogue Dreamland
Oregon’s Rogue Ales makes a handful of beers worthy of this list and we encourage you to try them all. But the best lake beer of the bunch is arguably Rogue Dreamland. This 4.8 percent American lager was brewed to pay tribute to Dreamland Skatepark. It’s crisp, refreshing, malty, and sweet…a perfect summer beer, even if you don’t have the balance to stand on a skateboard for more than five seconds.
[$13.99 for a six-pack; drizly.com]
7. Widmer Brothers Hefe
If you only drink one wheat beer this summer, make it Widmer Brothers Hefe. This OG American wheat beer has won countless awards since its inception back in the ’80s. Brewed with Pale, Extra Special, and Wheat malts, as well as Alchemy, Willamette, and Cascade hops. The predominant flavors are bready malts, citrus, and yeast.
[$9.99 for a six-pack; totalwine.com]
8. Genesee Cream Ale
At first glance, you might be surprised to see a beer like Genesee Cream Ale on this list, but you’ll soon see why it belongs. This iconic beer—that was likely your grandpa or dad’s favorite beer—has been brewed since 1960. It’s the best of a lager and an ale: crisp yet malty and sweet.
[$5.99 for a six-pack of 16-ounce cans; totalwine.com]
9. pFriem Pilsner
Oregon’s pFriem is a big name in the beer world and its Pilsner might be its best creation. This 4.9 percent ABV Czech-style pilsner is floral, crisp, and loaded with everything a classic pilsner fan could want. We love its floral aromas with just a touch of honey.
[$3.99 for a 500ml bottle; totalwine.com]
10. Cigar City Fancy Papers
There are a lot of hazy IPAs on the market and Cigar City Fancy Papers might be one of the best examples of the style available almost anywhere. Brewed with Strata, Sabro, and Idaho 7 hops, it’s juicy, hazy, and filled with flavors of earthy wet grass, bready malts, citrus zest, and sweet tropical fruits like guava, mango, and pineapple.
[$12.99 for a six-pack; totalwine.com]