What makes a great summer barbecue beer? First, it needs to be cool and refreshing to provide relief from the heat. Second, it shouldn't be the center of the meal, but a complement. Third, it should be low enough in alcohol so you can responsibly have a few. Lagers fit the bill, which is why Budweiser is so ubiquitous. Here are three local lagers (all in cans, perfect for camp barbecues) that will make you forget the Clydesdales.
Payette Brewing Fly Line Vienna Style Lager, $1.60-$1.90
This pale golden pour is topped by a brief, thin head. You get notes of bread, floral hops and subtle malt on the nose with a touch of fresh cut hay. The oh-so-easy drinking palate is a mix of light hops, creamy malt with bits of citrus and apple on the finish. Bring on summer.
Sockeye Lucky Peak Pilsner, $1.60-$1.90
Another light-golden brew with a thin head, it has bright citrus on the nose, with sweet malt, grain and a surprisingly overt hit of pine-laced hops. More citrus on the palate (sweet lime and orange) and lightly toasted malt, it finishes with soft, just bitter hops on the finish. Eminently quaffable.
Woodland Empire Old Boise Lager, $1.20-$1.50
Caution is advised when pouring this hazy straw colored brew—it's topped by an explosive, three-finger head with exceptional persistence and beautiful lacing. The mix of aromas includes sourdough bread, corn flake, sweet malt and light hops. The malt flavors are balanced by green apple with a touch of hops on the finish. You'll want more than one.