Summer 2023 started mild with temperatures ranging in the 70s and 80s. But last week’s scorching sun led me to seek out a good beer for sipping on the back porch — a lighter brew that lingers in the 4 percent to 6 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) range. This list includes a kölsch, pilsner, lager and radler, as well as a wine-beer hybrid crafted by Clark County brewers to help cool off when the weather turns mean.
Kascadia Kölsch 4.8 percent ABV
54-40 Beer, 3801 S. Truman Road, Unit 1, Washougal; 360-844-5932
This crisp, food-friendly beer from 54-40 Beer in Washougal was the gateway to light beer for me. The first sip proved this style didn’t have to be like the skunky, weak, mass-produced lager that splashed in big red Solo cups at college parties in the 1990s. This German-style beer made by 54-40 has a full honey flavor but is light and refreshing enough to sip outside on a hot day.
Luv Ya Lager 5 percent ABV
Barrel Mountain Brewing, 607 E. Main St., Battle Ground; 360-342-8111
Barrel Mountain’s Munich Helles-style lager won a gold medal at the Washington Beer Awards in 2017 and a bronze in 2018. This classic brew features a light, toasted malt flavor melded with Tettnang hops. These hops are mainly cultivated around Tettnanger on Lake Constance in Germany and give beer a mild aroma and slightly spicy flavor.
The People’s Pilsner 5.5 percent ABV
Brothers Cascadia, 9811 N.E. 15th Ave., Vancouver; 360-718-8927
Czech-style pilsner was first brewed in 1842 by Bavarian brewer Josef Groll at a brewery now known as Pilsner Urquell. Brothers Cascadia’s pale gold, clear, Czech-inspired lager follows the classic malt-forward style that gives the beer baked bread notes.
Pink Shandy Dropper 6.2 percent ABV
Doomsday and The Heavy Metal Pizza & Brewing Co, 809 MacArthur Blvd., Vancouver; 360- 258-1691
The above beers may be characterized as Yacht rock (like The Doobie Brothers) or smooth jazz (like Kenny G), but this brew is pure Metallica. This rattling radler-style beer combines the punchy citrus and stone fruit of the Sabro hops with pink grapefruit to create a buzz that feels like Dave Mustaine playing a guitar solo on your tongue. Also, an ABV of 6.2 percent is on the high side for a style that originally was made in Germany with two parts beer and one part lemonade or lemon-lime soda.
Rosé Gone Wild 5 percent ABV
Fortside Brewing, 2200 N.E. Andresen Road, Vancouver; 360-524-4692
This gluten-reduced wine-beer hybrid gives drinkers the citrus and light berry of a rosé with the effervescence and slight bitter flavor of a beer. I like to serve it chilled in a wine glass. Fortside’s taproom often has this summer sipper sloshing around its slushy machine. It’s a good backyard party drink because it satisfies beer and wine drinkers as well as those seeking something with reduced gluten.