Many of us (especially those interested in backyard grilling) don’t want to wait until the end of June for summer to begin. They use Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer and the kick-off grilling season strong. If you live in the northern hemisphere, the days are growing longer, the sun is shining more often, and the weather is fairly warm (if not downright hot and humid). Perfect weather for a backyard barbecue. And we know that no barbecue is complete without beer.
Crispy, refreshing, easy to drink beer. The kind of beer that pairs just as well with grilled meats and veggies as it does with backyard games and standing around talking about your local sports team and their faults or triumphs.
While countless beers fit that bill, we selected eight crushable craft beers that are fairly widely available at your local grocery or beer store. These pilsners, lagers, and Kolsch-style beers are all solid picks for venturing to a neighbor’s backyard barbecue. If you’re hosting, fill your cooler with any of these and you’ll be sure to be the most popular griller in the neighborhood.
Since we don’t want you to go out and have to buy eight different beers, we decided to blindly taste each one and rank them in terms of refreshment, crisp flavor, and how they complement grilled/ summery foods. Keep reading to see how they all stacked up.
- Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower
- Victory Prima Pils
- Jack’s Abby Post Shift Pilsner
- pFriem Pilsner
- Ballast Point Longfin Lager
- Ommegang Idyll Days Pilsner
- Bell’s Lager of The Lakes
- Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils
Part 1: The Tasting
Lemon, wet grass, yeast, and an indistinguishable herbal smell greeted my nostrils upon nosing. But the citrus aroma was by far the strongest. The palate continues the surprising citrus trend along with cracker-like malts, and some grains as well. The finish is pleasantly bitter without much hop presence.
Freshly baked bread, lemon curd, wet grass, fresh hay, and light, floral hops are prevalent on the nose. There’s more of the same on the palate with more bready hops that move along to slight wintry spices, sweet yeast, pepper, dry hay, and floral hops. The finish is crisp, dry, and memorable.
The nose is highlighted by aromas of citrus zest, herbal, grass, hay, and light floral hops. The palate continues this with citrus peel, caramel malts, fresh bread, Noble hops, and a finish of sweet honey and spicy, slightly resinous, herbal, floral hops. A sublimely complex yet refreshing beer.
On the nose, I found notes of pepper, fresh-baked bread, sweet malts, and floral, slightly piney hops. Sipping it brought forth notes of honey, Noble hops, bready malts, and slight citrus zest. The finish is dry, subtly bitter, and refreshing.
The nose is malty with some freshly cut grass and lightly floral hops. All-around a fairly muted nose to say the least. The palate continues this trend with an almost adjunct-like sweetness that moves along to more malt presence and some herbal, floral hops.
Not a bad beer, just a bit watery and boring for me.
While fairly light, the nose is loaded with flavors like cracker-like malts, lemon zest, and herbal, slightly floral hops. Drinking it revealed bready malts, slight wheat flavor, honey, more citrus zest, and finished with a sweet, malty ending with very little bitterness.
Overall, a well-rounded albeit light beer.
On the nose, I found sweet grains, citrus zest, herbal hops, and wet grass. The palate was similar to the nose with a grainy sweetness followed by freshly cut grass, some floral hops, and a slight fruity backbone that didn’t emerge long enough to make much of an impact. It felt like this beer was just lacking a little bit in the overall flavor department.
The nose is all wet grass, light malts, and very floral hops, but not much else. As lighter beers go, this one is really surprisingly hoppy. The palate consists of more freshly cut grass, and floral piney hops with a dry, bitter finish. All in all, not a bad beer. It just leans a little too heavily into the grassy, floral hops for my liking.
Part 2: The Ranking
8) Bell’s Lager of The Lakes (Taste 5)
Average Price: $11.50 for a six-pack
With a name like Lager of the Lakes, you can bet this is an easy-drinking beer, perfect for the outdoors. While this 5 % Czech-style pilsner with a nice mix of caramel malts and floral hops is supposed to be enjoyed next to a body of water (or while you swim in it), it’s great in a backyard as well.
Bell’s Lager of the Lakes does the trick if you simply want a crushable beer without much substance. Otherwise, swim to more flavorful waters.
7) Victory Prima Pils (Taste 8)
Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack
This 5.3% pilsner is brewed with Pilsner malt, Tettnang, Hallertau, Spalt, and Saaz hops. This crisp, slightly floral, highly refreshing beer is a tribute to the German pilsners that came before it.
Victory Prima Pils is a popular beer for drinkers who want an American beer that plays off of European flavors. For an easy drinker, it’s a little one-dimensional for my palate.
6) Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower (Taste 7)
Average Price: $8.50 for a six-pack
Like a handful of the beers in our ranking, the name suggests what the beer is for. This Kolsch-style beer is perfect for a mid-afternoon break from mowing or as a backyard sipper. Brewed with Hallertauer hops from Germany and special Kolsch yeast, this beer is known for its crushable, slightly fruity, floral flavor.
All the hallmarks of great summery beer are there. It’s just that the flavors in Fancy Lawnmower are a little watery and muted for what appeals to me.
5) Ballast Point Longfin Lager (taste 6)
Average Price: $9.50 for a six-pack
San Diego’s Ballast Point is well-known for its iconic Sculpin IPA. That’s all well and good, but it means that some of its other beers don’t get the recognition they deserve. One of those beers is Longfin Lager. This German-style helles lager is simple, clean, and highly drinkable on a hot day.
Ballast Point Longfin Lager is the kind of beer that tastes exactly like you hope it would. There’s a nice mix of malts and hops, but it could use a little more flavor overall.
4) Jack’s Abby Post Shift Pilsner (Taste 1)
Average Price: $9.50 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
It’s right there in the name: Post Shift Pilsner. You don’t want to drink something heavy and dark after a long day of work. You want to stand out (or more likely sit in a gravity chair) in someone’s backyard and throw down a few of these crisp, easy-to-drink 4.7% sessionable pilsners.
It’s clear Jack’s Abby Post Shift Pilsner was crafted to be crushed. This is a flavorful, well-balanced beer that I’ll drink any time after a long day of work (or at a backyard barbecue while I toss horseshoes).
3) Ommegang Idyll Days Pilsner (Taste 2)
Average Price: $10.50 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans
This 5% unfiltered Belgian-style lager is brewed with Saaz hops from the Czech Republic, floor-malted barley, flaked corn, and Belgian pilsner yeast. This year-round beer is rustic, crisp, and well suited for drinking while you stand in a circle in a backyard talking about how powerful your grill is.
When it comes to unfiltered lagers, it’s difficult to beat the flavor profile of Ommegang Idyll Days. It had everything drinkers would want in a summery beer.
2) Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils (Taste 4)
Average Price: $9.99 for a six-pack
This beer’s name might be a mouthful, but it’s also one of the most beloved pilsners on the market. This 4.7% sessionable pilsner has been available since 2009. It’s brewed to pay tribute to the German and Czech pilsners that came before it with pilsner and honey malt and Saaz and Aramis hops.
When it comes to a classic European-style pilsner it’s hard to beat Mama’s Little Yella Pilsner. It’s a crisp, refreshing, and one of the most well-balanced pilsners available everywhere.
1) pFriem Pilsner (Taste 3)
Average Price: $3.99 for a 500ml bottle
pFriem is one of those breweries that seems to produce nothing but bangers. Its classic, crisp pilsner is no different. Brewed with Gambrinus & Weyermann German Pilsner, Cara Foam, and Acidulated malts as well as lager yeast and Perle, Saphir, Tettnang, and Spalt Select hops, it’s known for its crisp, refreshing, multi-dimensional flavor.
I’m not surprised that pFriem’s Pilsner took the top spot. It’s one of the most complex pilsners I’ve ever had. It’s sweet, spicy, floral, and multidimensional yet still crushable and thirst-quenching. A perfect pilsner.
There are no bad beers on this list. There are, however, some I like much better than others. Still, each and every one is crushable, thirst-quenching, refreshing, and perfectly suited to be paired with grilled meats and veggies, yard games, and good times with friends and family.