The ultimate summertime beer pairing cheat sheet

Cookouts, concerts, pool time — all better with beer.

Even the worst things about summer are better because of it. Like mowing the lawn. Every. Single. Weekend.

And depending where you are, summer may be short-lived.

(Hello from Chicago!)

So you gotta maximize — with beer, of course.

We asked one of our top beer experts to pick the best beers for everything we’re planning this summer. Daniel Imdieke is a trade brewer at MillerCoors and one of only 13 Master Cicerones in the world.

He’s got beer pairings for picnics, porch parties, float trips and more. That way you’ll be able to make the most of every minute of summer. Even if you use a push mower.

Here’s what to drink

summer beer BBQ

... at a barbecue

If you’re about to get down on burgers, brats, rich sauces and hearty sides (and we hope you are) — “a hoppier American amber ale or American pale ale with a bit of a malt backbone are great choices,” Daniel says. The caramel malt notes are just made for everything you can throw on a grill.

Daniel’s picks: From our beers, definitely Leinenkugel’s India Pale Lager, brewed with five bold, citrusy, resinous hops that finish crisp and clean. And Pilsner Urquell, a good call if you don’t know what’s being served. It also comes with a cool story to tell as the world’s first golden beer.

summer beer concert

... at a concert

You know you’re seriously into beer when you match it to the music. (Looking at you, Daniel.) If it’s a mellow vibe, grab something you can sip on, like a Flanders red or American sour — known for their fruity, tart, wine-like flavors. For a show that’s gonna rock, get some aggressive hops going with an American IPA.

Daniel’s picks: Crispin Pacific Pear Cider. “One of my favorite ciders of all time!” he says. Crispin Pear is fruity, floral and lightly sweet but with a dry finish — like a riesling but more sessionable. For a louder show, go Coors Banquet or Miller Lite.

summer beer float trip

... after a float trip

Not too sweet or too hoppy is right-on after a day on the river in a tube, canoe, kayak or raft (aka float trip — which you already knew if you’re from Missouri). 

Daniel’s picks: Leinenkugel’s Grapefruit Shandy — “liquid sunshine,” he calls it. Or Blue Moon Belgian White Belgian-Style Wheat Ale.

summer beer picnic

... on a picnic

You’re probably going to share a bunch of small plates — breads, cheeses, dips, charcuterie, sandwiches — so you’ll want a beer with a big range of flavors. Like a saison, with fruity notes from citrus to peach to grapefruit, spicy peppery flavors, and floral and grassy hops. “Saisons have the complexity to be a companion to everything in your picnic basket,” Daniel says. “Plus they have a crisp, refreshing quality that’s great when you’re outside.”

Daniel’s pick: Peroni Nastro Azzurro. This European pale lager has a refreshing, floral hop aroma that’s made for the outdoors. It also has a firm, clean bitterness that stands up to cured meats and rich cheeses. And the Peroni brand is about as stylish as it gets, so your picnic is automatically cooler than everyone else’s.

summer beer yardwork

... after yardwork

Whether or not you’ve heard it called a “lawnmower beer” (a real thing), you’ve for sure had one. Because there’s no better reward than an ice-cold beer after mowing the lawn. American pale lager is our favorite style.

Daniel’s pick: Miller High Life. He likes the lightly sweet malt character, high carbonation and “bit of hay-like grassiness to pair with the lawn clippings.” (This guy is good.)

summer beer pool

... by the pool

Lounge with an easy-drinking, flavorful Kölsch. It’s lightly fruity, not too hoppy and finishes crisp like white wine.

Daniel’s pick: Saint Archer Blonde Ale, available in California an awesome Kölsch-style beer with fun notes of apples and black cherry, subtle floral hops, and club-soda-like dry spritziness.” See you at the pool, like, now.

summer beer dinner party

... at a dinner party

One of Daniel’s favorite styles to match with food is Belgian tripel, and an outdoor dinner party is the perfect reason. “A tripel’s complexity stands up to wine but has the refreshing quality of beer,” he says. “It’s usually a hit for drinkers of both,” he says. 

Daniel’s pick: Bet he shows up with elegant-yet-approachable Pilsner Urquell. “People tend to fall in love with it pretty quickly,” he says. He’ll also bring a bottle or two of Leinenkugel’s Big Eddy Royal Nektar (a braggot or malt mead-style beer brewed with Wisconsin cranberry blossom honey) or the latest Crispin barrel-aged cider (currently rum-cask-aged Crispin 15 Men). Both are outstanding with dessert or as a nightcap — because who wants summer to end?