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The brews of summer
The nation's first modern–era wheat beer was introduced in 1984

When I assembled this family of “Beers for Summer” it (finally) occurred to me that each shares a unique genesis. Except for import Samuel Smith, each is a thoroughly modern beer borne from a passion.

Each brewery founder began as a home brewer. Prohibition killed scores of small brewers, who never rebounded until much later in the 20th Century.

Today, nearly 1,800 small breweries are thriving –– in some cases struggling to keep up –– as more and more American palates embrace this new generation of brewers.

Locally, we have the talents of John Pinkerton at Moon River Brewing Co. John has crafted an interesting portfolio of regular offerings and frequent special brews, making his bar our own craft beer central.

Two local retailers, both locations of Habersham Beverage and World Market, allow limited “mix–your–own–six–pack” deals. It’s a great way to experiment with styles

Still need a starting place? Try these summer beers:

Anchor Summer Beer: The grandfather of the current American craft brewing industry, Fritz Maytag , started his brewing work in 1965 and in 1984 introduced this beer –– the nation’s first modern–era wheat beer. Light, crisp, and refreshing.

Highland St. Therese Pale Ale: Brewery founder Oscar Wong is a scientist by profession and a brewery founder by passion. From Asheville, NC, comes this classic, mildly citrusy pale ale.

New Belgium Somersault: Beers fans rejoiced when wildly popular Fat Tire arrived in Savannah a couple of years ago, but how many of you have tried this mildly hoppy brew that cavorts around the palate like a Russian gymnast, with subtle flavors of apricot and ginger?

Terrapin Sunray Wheat: Athen’s–based Terrapin brews a wheat beer with a local connection. Sunray Wheat is brewed with a touch of Tupelo honey from Savannah Bee Company.

Bell’s Oberon Ale: Vacationers to Michigan have raved about that state’s Bell’s beer for years –– and now the flagship, Oberon Ale, is available in Georgia. It’s a wheat ale fermented with Bell’s signature house ale yeast, mixing a spicy hop character with mildly fruity aromas.

Samuel Smith’s Organic Strawberry Ale: If you told me I’d like a fruit beer –– much less strawberry –– I would have laughed out loud. But the reality is I love this English–made, certified organic strawberry ale with roots reaching back to 1758. The 18.5 oz. bottle is perfect to share.