Germany and fun in the sun are not usually associated with one another. Nevertheless, anyone who's brought a six-pack of light lager or wheat beer to the beach has enjoyed the influence of Germany's long and celebrated brewing tradition, albeit indirectly. With some notable exceptions, German beers tend toward the refreshing varieties perfect for sweltering Central Florida summers. Here are a few that swerve from the beaten path, sure to wow your beach bum drinking buddies when they're cracking open the same old pilsners.
While technically an ale, the kölsch incorporates aspects of lager brewing to create a dry, hay-colored beverage effervescent and refreshing enough to fool even the experts. The differences are most pronounced in the finish, wherein the kölsch tones down the lager's natural bitterness, leaving the palate with the doughy flavor of good, yeasty bread. Reissdorf and Freigeist Ottekolong represent the crème of this wonderful beer while its inventor, Sünner Brewery, has recently released their original kölsch to the Central Florida market for the first time. Although an authentic kölsch must be brewed in Cologne, Germany, JDub's Poolside from Sarasota is as authentic a reproduction as you could hope to find this side of the pond. Just think of the name as instructions for drinking.
This bright, lemony ale has a low ABV and light, refreshing palatability that make it perfect for bouts of daylong, sun-soaked drinking. A welcomed alternative to the more familiar spicy, semisweet wheat beers that have skyrocketed in popularity since the beginning of the 21st century, the flavor of the Berliner weisse can range from delicately tart to pucker-your-face sour. While such a description might intimidate the craft novice, a couple of sips is all it takes to adjust to the acidity and cool down with this delightful brew. Bayerischer Bahnhof and 1809 top the list of Berliner weisses exported from the homeland as the Evil Twin Nomader Weisse from Brooklyn and Orlando's own Redlight Cimarrones take this incredible beer to new heights.
Gose is the odd duck of German beers. The redheaded stepchild of the Berliner weisse, this tart, cloudy ale is brewed with salt and coriander to create a truly unique but shockingly refreshing drinking experience. This ancient and once-popular beer completely disappeared when it fell out of fashion and its sole producer passed away in 1966. Fortunately, his secret recipe was uncovered a couple decades later, and the gose's revival has grown slowly ever since. Recently, certain esoteric corners of the American craft beer movement have taken an interest in the style. While the authentic Ritterguts and Bayerischer Bahnhof Original Leipziger Gose are perfect for those balmy Florida nights, stateside twists on the unusual elixir include Anderson Valley Highway 128 Blood Orange Gose out of California and 7venth Sun's Or It Gets the Gose Again from Dunedin, brewed with cucumbers and truffle or sea salt, depending on availability. Be warned: Both of these beers are elusive and much sought after, so if you find a tapped keg or a few cans tucked away in the back of your favorite beer depot, my advice is to consume all you can as quickly as possible, but you know, please, like, drink responsibly, or whatever.