Summer is perfect for beer. (Arguably, so are fall, winter, and spring, if you do them right.) There’s something idyllic about pairing a cold beer with the summer sun. It’s a time for BBQs, yard games, and gatherings of all types and sizes. Luckily, there are several great options for Utah summer BBQ beers right in your local grocery store.
It’s nice to visit the liquor store for something with more punch. But when it’s hot, the extra booze could mean an early exit from your epic cornhole tournament.
That’s where the refreshing, easy-drinking, and slow-building 4% ABV beers come in. You can sample more of them without courting a headache. And if you pick the right ones (hint: fresh, local, craft brews), you could be the hit of the BYOB BBQ.
Let’s take a trip down the beer aisle at your favorite store (Mine is Harmons — shout out to Bob and Randy.) and find the perfect brews to share with your friends this summer.
But first, a few notes. All the beers below were available for purchase at my local Harmons. Beer selection can vary by location and store. And they aren’t ranked, but are instead in order of approachability, so you can find the right beers for you — and to share with your friends (even if they’re yellow beer drinkers.)
Uinta Brewing – Lime Pilsner
Don’t skimp and just bring six. You’ll want at least a 12 pack, because this beer will disappear fast. And for good reason. It’s about as drinkable as anything this side of water. No offense to agua, but Lime Pilsner packs a whole lot more flavor — and maybe even more refreshment. If you’re already thinking of limeade, you’re on the right track. But it’s all beer. Built on a deliciously crisp pilsner backbone, the lime delivers an extra burst of summer in every sip.
Bohemian Brewery – Czech Pilsener
This one is a classic from Utah’s premier European lager brewer. A pilsner is a perfect summer beer — and a great gateway for macrobrew drinkers. An ideal pilsner is crisp, refreshing, dry on the palate, and a perfect mix of crackery malt and spicy, earthy hops. Bohemian nails the balance for a well-executed, flavorful, and infinitely drinkable example with its 1842 Czech Pilsener.
Uinta Brewing – 801 Pilsner
The creators of Cutthroat have pulled off some pretty perfect pilsners recently. The hops pop out of the glass, but don’t overpower the pilsner malt and throw this beer out of balance. 801 is interesting and complex (for a pils) enough to keep your attention, but easy-drinking and refreshing enough to partner with outdoor or backyard activities.
Wasatch Brewery – Snap Down India Pale Lager
You’d have a hard time telling the first non-pilsner on the list from the preceding beers just by sight. Snap Down is still a light-colored beer, but the aroma and flavor will take you to a completely different place. It’s still crisp (there’s that word again) and drinkable, but it’s all American. You immediately are enveloped in citrusy hops. The malt is just there as a canvas. But this beer is still balanced and drinkable to enhance your summer BBQ.
Kiitos Brewing – Coffee Cream Ale
This beer just started popping up in the grocery store, and we’re all better for it. If you pour it in a glass, Kiitos Coffee Cream Ale is a great way to fool a friend. That’s because the coffee in this cream ale has nothing to do with color. It looks like a lighter beer (think pilsner), but the aroma and taste are all coffee. It’s highly recommended for anything that starts early in the day (or as a mid-morning shower beer before the get together, if that’s how you roll).
Shades Brewing – Grapefruit Revolution IPA
Join the revolution! And bring your friends along, too. This hazy, citrus bomb is the current moment in IPA captured in a grocery store beer. And all that juicy grapefruit makes it refreshing and easy to give to IPA newbies. Celebrate this unique and modern 4% beer being available where you buy your milk and bread. It’s a pretty amazing feat.
2 Row Brewing – hIPAcrit India Pale Ale
The king of Utah IPAs (in my opinion) usually plays way above the 4% threshold. With all those hazy, juicy, beautifully hopped hallelujahs, it’s no surprise 2 Row can make a great grocery-store-level IPA, too. They’ve managed to miniaturize all the things you love about the larger 2 Row beers, bringing big hops to the Harmons — and making them available to take to your summer #SundayFunday.
Bonneville Brewing – Free Roller Session IPA
You don’t have to go all the way to Tooele to enjoy this classic example of an IPA. All the piney, pithy citrus goodness is ready to be crushed at your next BBQ. For anybody who longs for the simpler days of earlier IPA, this is the grocery store beer for you. And there’s even malt present in the flavor. OK, the other IPAs had enough malt to make a good beer. But this one actually adds some classic IPA malt flavor to the equation. It brings complexity, but doesn’t make Free Roller unapproachable or any less refreshing.
Moab Brewery – Session Red Rye IPA
I’m from Moab, so you can call this a homer pick. At least until you taste this beer for yourself. It’s lower on the list because the spicy rye might turn some off — at least initially. But the complexity of the interplay between malt and hops makes this a drinker and thinker. If you need more convincing, look at the larger 16-ounce can (my friends have called it a Utah High Point can), which stands out and provides enough for you to share — if you’re nicer than I am.
Proper Brewing Co. – Lake Effect Gose
This could be the most divisive beer on the list. It’s salty, tart-verging-on-sour, and perfect for summer. This gose (say go-zuh) is like Gatorade for your summer gatherings. You get a balanced blend of salt (electrolytes!) and lemony tartness with ample wheat-malt backbone and a kick of coriander. It’s one of the most complex, interesting beers you can find at the grocery store. And it comes in bomber bottles (22 ounces of deliciousness). So you can share, or save all that puckering goodness for yourself.
No Longer a Beer Desert
If you’re headed to the grocery store, your options are much more expansive than the typical big-beer brands. Over the past few years, the selection of delicious, local craft beers has blown up. You can even find a lot of out-of-state IPAs, lagers, sours, and more than ever before.
So dive in. Try some new brews with your friends. There’s no better time than summer to suck down a few (OK, several) beers in the backyard while you run the grill, school your friends in cornhole, or just shoot the breeze.
What did we miss? Tell us in the comments what your favorite Utah summer BBQ beer is to grab from the grocery store.
Label artwork/imagery © respective breweries