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Summer beer recommendations

New Hampshire's Smuttynose Brewing Company's Shoals Pale Ale.

New Hampshire's Smuttynose Brewing Company's Shoals Pale Ale. Credit: Handout

Back to the picnic, this time with lots brewing.

And there are plenty of candidates for the cooler that don't take in Bud, Miller, Coors or Corona.

From New Hampshire: Smuttynose IPA, a citrusy, very refreshing mainstay that's terrific with spicy Asian food and ideal with a juicy hamburger. The Portsmouth brewery's Shoals Pale Ale is a tangy, hoppy alternative that's equally first-class. If you want something richer, look for Smuttynose's Old Brown Dog, an expressive riff on English ale that's fine with all grilled fare. These Smuttynose brews come in at $10-$11 for a six-pack.

Big and hopped up is Stone Levitation Ale, an amber-hued, dependable and spirited Californian that's a refresher on its own as a sipper, or with any chicken dish, cold cuts and hard cheeses. Figure $12-$13 for the Escondido brewer's citrusy six-pack.

Magic Hat comes through with a summer variety pack, an assortment that includes Magic Hat Pistil, a distinctive brew made with dandelion for a little grassy, tart flavor; and Magic Hat Elder Betty Ale, a hazy, bready thirst-quencher made with tart elderberry. The 12-pack from the South Burlington, Vt., brewer is $15-$17.

And for a classic wheat beer, sample an import from a great Bavarian brewery: the Ayinger Ur-Weisse. It's more complex than most, gilded and fruity, with a head like a pillow. Outstanding. A four-pack from Ayinger, which is about a half-hour from Munich, is approximately $12. A 16-ounce bottle, $3.50 or so. Find any excuse to enjoy it.

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