Hold the piña coladas. When you're out on the deck, near the pool, gathered 'round the campfire, or down at the beach, nothing really satisfies the palate on a summer afternoon quite like a good, old-fashioned beer. But just because you're kicking back with a cold one doesn't mean it has to be some low-grade bargain-bin domestic swill. Here's a list of robust all-American brews that you'll want with you throughout the season. As well, they're all "session beers," which means they have less than 5 ABV—still tasty enough for any occasion, but not boozy enough to bring the good times to an early end.
Above, left to right
Mission St. Blonde Ale
The supermarket chain Trader Joe's is tight-lipped about the sourcing of its in-house beer brands, but we did learn that the tangy, caramel-tinged ale from Steinhaus Brewing is actually made by Firestone Walker, a small-batch brewer in California.
American Session Ale
Chris Lohring of Notch in Massachusetts studied the tradition of session beers (the Brits coined the term) and is creating an American legacy to match, turning out ripe, ultraclean beers like this one.
Oregon's Full Sail uses springwater from nearby Mount Hood and grains from local farms in its ales, its IPAs, and this light, berry-hinted lager.
Long Haul Session Ale
The siblings behind Illinois' Two Brothers Brewing Co. used milk tanks from their grandfather's old dairy farm to ferment their first batches of hefeweizen. Now they brew 10-plus varieties, including this sweet, mineral-driven style.
Joe's Premium American Pilsner
This sharp, hoppy pilsner from Colorado's Avery Brewing is a departure from more challenging beers like its coal-black, 15.1 percent alcohol Mephistopheles' Stout.
Klsch Style Ale
Missouri's Schlafly Beer turns out this crisp, golden klsch that's just as flavorful as the boozier pale ales and stouts for which it's known.