When it’s mind-bendingly scorching outside, few things are as refreshing as sipping on a cold brew of the adult kind (preferably on a patio near a mister). This sunshine-filled Sonoran Desert summer season, it’s time for frosty pours of lighter styles of beer — so let’s bring on the pilsners, lagers and their lip-smacking liquid peers. Here’s a look at some of the most chill draughts handcrafted in the Valley of the Sun.
Supreme South-of-the-Border Suds
Micheladas at CRUjiente Tacos
One of Mexico’s most exuberant beer traditions — the flavorful michelada — gets upscale treatment at CRUjiente Tacos in Arcadia. There, tall, 32-ounce glass tumblers are filled with frigid Dos Equis and a tomato-based mix that features assertive flavorings like umami-laden Maggi sauce, onion powder, garlic powder and housemade chili powder redolent of guajillos and pasillas. It also benefits from the distinct heat of New Mexican Rancho de Chimayó chiles.
CRUjiente Tacos stands out in the way it serves micheladas: each glass arrives brimming with a blended lager-tomato-pepper-spice elixir and ice cubes. Drinkers don’t incrementally pour their beers into the flavoring mix, as is commonly done in most eateries and drinkeries. This is to avoid diluting the michelada, explains Chef Rich Hinojosa.
“We want it to be a good drink from the first sip to the last sip,” Hinojosa says.
Each michelada glass is also rimmed with Maldon sea salt flakes from Southeast Britain and even more Rancho de Chimayo chile pepper for additional oomph in each sip. ¡Salud!
CRUjiente Tacos, 3961 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, 602.687.7777, crutacos.com.
Lo-Cal Sunshine in a Can
Arizona Light Lager from Huss Brewing Co.
For some craft beer connoisseurs, light beers are looked down on as boring and ordinary. (OK, they’re actually snobs.) Sometimes, like when it’s 110 degrees and you’re floating in your pool, or it’s noon on Saturday and you’re mowing the lawn, you want a beer that goes down easy. And, if you’re going to be having more than a couple, you don’t want them to be packed with carbs. But they should taste good, too. Enter the new Arizona Light Lager from Huss Brewing Co.
“Bringing a healthier but very crushable and drinkable light beer to market — from a locals’ standpoint — made us very excited,” says Huss beer evangelist Chip Mulala.
Each Arizona Light Lager can contains a modest 8 grams of carbohydrates and 110 calories to help avoid summer beer bellies. And the sipper’s packaging is pure Americana, making for a backyard beevo Arizonans can toss back with state pride. (4.02% ABV)
Huss Brewing Co., 1520 W. Mineral Road, Suite 102, Tempe, 480.264.7611, hussbrewing.com.
Zona Pils from 12 West Brewing Co.
Get in the chill zone with a frosty Zona Pils at small but stylish 12 West Brewing Co. in the impressive Barnone craft and culture emporium at Gilbert’s Agritopia. Taking a windowed spot at the end of the vast metal Quonset hut — which is reminiscent of a sideways giant beer can, no less — the micro-brewery’s crisp tribute to the Grand Canyon State is low in alcohol, so it’s highly drinkable. (4.3% ABV)
12 West Brewing Co., 3000 E. Ray Road, Gilbert, 480.404.9699, 12westbrewing.com.
White Mage Witbier from 8-Bit Aleworks
Perhaps you want to take refuge inside during these months and delve into a virtual world (all the while sipping on high-scoring barley pop). Gamers rejoice! The White Mage Witbier from Avondale’s 8-Bit Aleworks has a sorcerous zesty and spicy character and is a style of wheat beer that’s been brewed over the centuries with an eye to summer drinking. It does pack a bit of a powered-up punch, though. (5.8% ABV)
8-Bit Aleworks, 1050 N. Fairway Drive, Building F, Suite 101, Avondale, 623.925.1650, 8-bitaleworks.com.
Camp Light Lager from Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.
Packing up for a weekend trip up north to beat the heat? Fill a Hydro Flask growler or two with the fragrant Camp Light Lager from Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. It’s flavored with orange blossoms and orange zest, so it’ll be one of the most in-demand drinks in the forest. (4.2% ABV)
Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co., 721 N. Arizona Avenue, Suite 103, Gilbert, 480.497.2739, azwbeer.com.
Vamonos Lager from The Beer Research Institute
Put on your thinking cap inside the cool comfort of Mesa’s Beer Research Institute. Reach for a flavorful Vamonos Lager, a Viennese-style pour that’s been enhanced with Lemon Drop hops and fresh lime zest. Brilliant! (4.5% ABV)
The Beer Research Institute, 1641 S. Stapley Drive, Suite 104, Mesa, 480.892.2020, thebeerresearchinstitute.com.
El Jefe Fantasma Hefeweizen from Bone Haus Brewing
Don’t miss out on the cooling properties of El Jefe Fantasma Hefeweizen at Bone Haus Brewing in Fountain Hills. Dry-hopped with classic Cascade hops, the brewery steps up the game with Old World grains. (4.6% ABV)
Bone Haus Brewing, 14825 E. Shea Boulevard, Suite 101, Fountain Hills, 480.292.9541, bonehausbrewing.com
Pomegranate Wheat from Desert Eagle Brewing Company
Savor the fruity abundance of Desert Eagle Brewing Company’s Pomegranate Wheat. It expands on the traditional Bavarian tradition of the Hefeweizen-style wheat beer with the addition of desert-friendly organic pomegranate juice. The result is golden, slightly sweet and aromatic. (5.2-percent ABV)
Desert Eagle Brewing Company, 150 W. Main Street, Mesa, 480.656.2662, deserteaglebrewing.com.
Light Kolsch from Flying Basset Brewing
The brewmeisters at Flying Basset Brewing let the classic Kolsch-style beer run loose with a lighter version of the German beer that blends ale and lager traditions. With an easy touch on the hops, it’s very quaffable. (4.7% ABV)
Flying Basset Brewing, 720 W. Ray Road, Gilbert, 480.426.1373, flyingbassetbrewing.com.
Peach Ale at Four Peaks Brewing
Four Peaks Brewing infuses the essence of fuzzy orchard globes into golden ale. The resulting effervescent ambrosia is fruit-forward but not cloyingly sweet. It’s peachy keen, indeed.
The brewery merits a bonus mention for its frosty Oatmeal Stout shake: it takes a dark beer not normally associated with summer weather and makes it seasonally apropos with the addition of malted vanilla bean ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate syrup.
Four Peaks Brewing, 1340 E. Eighth Street, Suite 104, Tempe, 480.303.9967, fourpeaks.com.
Long-Distance Relationship India Pale Lager from Freak’n Brewing Company
Peoria craft beer fans don’t wig out in triple-digit temps. Instead, they vent steam with an icy, citrusy glass of Freak’n Brewing Company’s Long-Distance Relationship India Pale Lager. Made in collaboration with Tucson’s Dillinger Brewing Company, it’s on the potent side for a summer sip, so no drinking and dialing! (6.7-percent ABV)
Freak’n Brewing Company, 9299 W. Olive Avenue, Suite 513, Peoria, 623.738.5804, freaknbrew.com.
Midday Shifty Grisette from Goldwater Brewing Co.
Goldwater Brewing Co. brings some old-school French knowhow to Arizona’s beer landscape with Midday Shifty Grisette. It’s an eminently drinkable farmhouse-style creation that’s light on the boozy effect and abundant with agricultural aroma and flavor highlights of guava, melon, Pinot Gris and pink peppercorns. (4.7% ABV)
Goldwater Brewing Co., 3608 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480.350.7305 goldwaterbrewing.com.
Blackberry Blonde from Helio Basin Brewing Co.
Shine inside by the ping-pong table with a pint of Helio Basin Brewing Co.’s pleasantly tart Blackberry Blonde. It’s on the brisk side and doesn’t exhibit the jammy, overpowering sweetness sometimes found in fruit beers. (4.9% ABV)
Helio Basin Brewing Co., 3935 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix, 602.354.3525, heliobasinbrewing.com.
Fate Blueberry Milkshake from Fate Brewing Company
Fate Brewing Company brings all the imbibers to the yard with its Fate Blueberry Milkshake. The juicy, purple-hued wheat beer is poured at the Fate’s Tap + Barrel location. (4.5% ABV)
Fate’s Tap + Barrel, 7337 E. Shea Boulevard, Suite 105, Scottsdale, 480.994.1275, fatebrewing.com.
Brite Golden Pilsner from O.H.S.O. Brewery + Distillery
Here’s a scintillating idea for chillaxing when it’s sweltering in Arizona: reach for a Brite Golden Pilsner from O.H.S.O. Brewery + Distillery. It has a pleasant floral tone and you can’t miss its lightbulb-shaped tap handle. (4.5% ABV)
O.H.S.O. Brewery + Distillery, 4900 East Indian School Road, Phoenix, 602.955.0358, ohsobrewery.com.
Helles Deep Lager from Old Ellsworth Brewing Company
After spending the morning in u-pick farms and olive grove tours in bucolic Queen Creek, take afternoon shelter with a Helles Deep Lager at Old Ellsworth Brewing Company. The lightly malty quaff pays tribute to one of Munich’s historic brews and is hella good. (5.3% ABV)
Old Ellsworth Brewing Company, 22005 S. Ellsworth Road, Queen Creek, 480.935.2796, oldellsworthbrewing.com.
Mr. Pineapple Wheat Beer from San Tan Brewery
Aloha, Mr. Pineapple! San Tan Brewery’s zingy, tropical wheat beer is powered with plenty of pineapple juice harvested from Fair Trade farms in Costa Rica. (5% ABV)
San Tan Brewery, 8 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler, 480.917.8700, santanbrewing.com.
Orange-Ginger Saison from State 48 Brewery
Celebrate the torrid climate that created Arizona’s citrus industry with a pour of Orange-Ginger Saison at State 48 Brewery. The potent pale ale varietal is suffused with locally grown Cara Cara fruit and a dash of spicy, fresh-grated rhizome. (7.0% ABV)
State 48 Brewery, 13823 W. Bell Road, Surprise, 623.584.1095, state48brewery.com.