Summer 2013 was a relatively mild one in Southern California, but already you get the sense that the upcoming season will be a scorcher. Tuesday almost reached into the triple digits in DTLA, giving us all the perfect reason to start planning for summer brews. It’s time to replace the porters, stouts, and ball-bustin’ triple IPAs with something easier on the palate. “Summer beers are getting lighter and lighter,” says Wes Jacobs of Select Beer in Redondo Beach. He predicts this will be the summer of American craft lagers and sessions, those highly drinkable backyard-barbecue beers low in alcohol, beers you can down without getting wasted or having your sensors overwhelmed. “The whole trend for the biggest, hoppiest beer has gone full circle,” he says. I decided to put some of our craft beer experts on the spot (one even felt inclined to check his cooler), to come up with a set list of perfect summer brews. Besides Wes of Select Beer, the list is courtesy of Danny at Stearns Liquor in Long Beach; Peter of Valley Beverage in Sherman Oaks; John from Galco’s Old World Grocery in Highland Park; and Stan at Lone Hill Liquor in Glendora. Cheers, guys.

1. Brauhaus Hartmannsdorf’s Ritterguts (style: gose). “This is a very cool, old-school German beer [that] originated in Goslar. Imagine a wheat beer that is salted, with also a bit of coriander. Salt is used because the local water sources at the time of its inception had a high salt content. It’s nice because the hops don’t stand out in this one. And it’s really hydrating, almost like Gatorade. You’re restoring some of the salts … you’re sweating out in the sun.” –Peter

2. The Bruery’s Hottenroth (style: Berliner weisse). “It’s tart and only 3.1 percent [alcohol], perfect lawn-mowing beer.” –Peter

3. Trumer Brauerei Berkeley’s Trumer Pils (style: pilsner). “It’s crisp, very clean, and has a bit of hoppiness. [Fun fact:] The brewery chose Berkeley because the water here was similar to the water in Salzburg.” –John

4. Brouwerij St. Bernardus’s St. Bernardus Witbier (style: witbier). “It’s herbal and slightly spicy, with some prominent pepper notes. It’s got amazing complexity, but it’s light at the same time.” –Peter

5. Modern Times Beer’s Black House (style: American stout). “This one comes in a can. It finishes clean and dry, with a nice coffee flavor. You don’t get a big, heavy mouthfeel like you normally would with stouts.” –Wes

6. Erdinger Weissbrau’s Erdinger Weissbier (style: hefeweizen). “I absolutely love hefeweizens. This one from Germany is very light and delicate, something you can just thoroughly enjoy without the frills.” [Editor’s note: The one shown here is the Hefe-Weizen.] –John

7. Brasserie Fantôme’s Printemps (style: saison). “They just released this beer, and the flavor profile has been known to change from bottle to bottle. Sometimes you pull orange or lemon.” –Danny

8. Brasserie Dupont’s Saison Dupont (style: saison). “It’s flavorful and has a lot of drinkability. It’s got a little more bitterness compared to other saisons.” –Stan

9. Logsdon Farmhouse Ales’ Seizoen Bretta (style: saison). “This is a really nice organic farmhouse ale. [Fun fact:] Bretta is a special bacteria that funks up the saison. [Logsdon’s Seizoen] recently won a gold medal in the Great American Beer Festival.” –Danny

10. Firestone Walker’s Opal (style: wheatwine). “This is a new saison from Firestone. It’s nice and crisp.” –Wes

11. Russian River Brewing Company’s Supplication (style: American wild ale). “Everything from this brewery is amazing. It’s a sour that’s got a great complexity and funk.” –Danny

12. Stone Brewing Co.’s Stone Go To IPA (style: IPA). “It’s classified as a session IPA. It’s hoppy as far as a session beer goes. And it’s almost tropical, with citrusy, piney flavors.” –Stan

13. Drake’s Brewing Company’s Aroma Coma (style: American IPA). “It has a lot of Citra hops, which have definitely been trending as of late. You get notes of mango, grapefruit, and tangerine.” –Danny

14. Bottle Logic Brewing’s She Shot First (style: American pale wheat ale). “It’s a hoppy wheat with a nice bite. Also has a great dry finish.” –Wes

15. Unibroue’s Éphémère (style: fruit). “When I think of summer beers I think of fruit beers. That sets the pace for me. This is a nice one from Canada.” –John

16. Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg’s Stiegl Radler (style: fruit). “It’s made with grapefruit juice, and sometimes they offer one with lemon.” –John

17. Brauerei Heller-Trum’s Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock (style: rauchbier). “This is a type of smoke beer. It has a nice balance, and you get smoky and woody flavors, even bacon to some degree, and it’s complemented by a nice maltiness as well. It goes well with grilled foods, generally speaking, more so beef and pork.” –Stan

Photos, styling, and animated GIF by Chris Rochelle

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