A can of Banded Brewing's Wicked Bueno, a Mexican-style lager. Credit: Emily Burnham

On those steamy days, where you’re always a little sweaty, when you’ve just mowed the lawn or caught that fish, you know what feels great? An ice cold beer. Is there any beverage more pleasurable in hot weather? Maybe, but we’ll argue there isn’t.

You’re lucky, though. You live in Maine, the best beer state in the country. Again, you could argue, but we think we make a pretty solid point. There is a dizzying array of Maine beers out there, but you want something that’s lighter, maybe fruity, definitely lower percentage in alcohol, and easy drinking.

To that end, we’ve put together a list of Maine beers, and a couple ciders, that fit all those requirements. They’re (almost) all less than 6 percent alcohol by volume, and they’re all wicked tasty. The only task you have is to find them — we recommend contacting your local beer purveyor, or the breweries themselves, and asking where you can find cans, bottles or growlers closest to you. That’s part of the charm: these are all special, in their own unique ways.

It’s pretty safe to say that this summer, we’re all going to be spending more time at home, or at camp, or on the water or the trails. Staying busy, sure, but the good kind of busy. Yard work, paddling, barbecuing, gardening, napping in hammocks (that’s work, right?). Here’s to staying safe, and still having fun. Cheers!

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Fruity beers

Orono Brewing Co., Key Lime Fruit Pie. 5.5 percent ABV

This new release from OBC walks a delicate line between fruit beer and Berliner Weisse, which is a slightly sour type of wheat beer. OBC packs it full of lime, marshmallow, vanilla bean and graham cracker flavor, and captures the essence of a slice of Key Lime Pie. Drink it ice cold for maximum effect, and expect more beers inspired by baked goods from OBC this summer.

Foundation Brewing, Cobbled Stones, 5 percent ABV

Another beer inspired by a summer dessert — this time peach cobbler — this 2020 release from Foundation combines the essence of peach and apricot with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and almond. Are you one of those people that likes to eat dessert first? Here’s your chance to do it, in beer form. And at 5 percent ABV, it’s, as they say, “sessionable.”

Barreled Souls Brewing Co., Superman Punch, 4.9 percent ABV

This beer has proved divisive: it is a salty, sour, gose-style beer, that is literally brewed with Tropical Punch Kool-Aid. Some people can’t get past its electric red color, and some people go gaga over its powerfully fruity flavor and effervescent mouthfeel. Try it for yourself and see if you’re transported back to a simpler time, when Kool-Aid was part of a healthy summer lunch.

Marsh Island Brewing, Puckercrush, 5.7 percent ABV

You want tart? You can get tart — really tart — with Marsh Island’s Puckercrush, a fruited kettle sour positively exploding with fresh blueberry and raspberry flavor. It’s a delightful magenta color and perfect for fruit lovers, and it’s a very good gateway beer for those not typically too fond of beer in general.

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Lagers and Pilsners

Banded Brewing Co., Wicked Bueno, 4.3 percent ABV

Do you love that famous Mexican beer that, in 2020, it seems weird to say the name of? Try Banded’s Wicked Bueno, a Mexican-style lager that is, for our money, a superior Maine-made replacement. Crack one open after a long, hard, hot day of doing yard work. Ahh. Instant relief. Muy delicioso.

Bunker Brewing Co., Machine Czech-style Pils, 5.2 percent ABV

Though it may be the most commonplace beer style when it comes to mass production, a great pilsner is actually hard to perfect. Bunker Brewing has done just that, however, with its crisp, clean, easy-drinking Machine Czech-style Pilsner. It’s topped off with a slightly spicy hop finish for a pleasant little kick at the end.

Oxbow Brewing Co., Northern Lager, 4.5 percent ABV

It’s golden. It’s malty. It’s lightly floral, without an overwhelming hoppiness. Picture yourself, legs dangling off the dock at camp, a cold beer in hand, watching the sun go down. That’s where this beer is at. It’s summertime, and the living is easy.

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Ales and Pales

Allagash River Trip, Belgian ale, 4.8 percent ABV

If wheat ales can sometimes rest a little heavy, Allagash now brews up a satisfying alternative to their flagship White Ale. River Trip is bubbly and hazy, laced with grapefruit flavors, yeasty aromas and soft hoppiness. Hoppiness is just one letter away from happiness. Coincidence? We think not.

Rising Tide Brewing, Maine Island Trail Ale, 4.3 percent ABV

One of the hoppier brews on this list, the Maine Island Trail Ale (MITA) has a bit of a cult following among Maine beer lovers. It’s packed with citrus and pine hop flavors, but clocks in at a highly manageable 4.3 percent ABV. It’s one of the best pale ales Maine has to offer, and you’re actually helping the state by drinking it: a portion of the proceeds of MITA benefits the Maine Island Trail Association.

Atlantic Brewing Co., New Guy IPA, 6 percent ABV

The longest-running beer on this list, Bar Harbor’s Atlantic Brewing has been making this brew since 2012, and with good reason: it’s really tasty. It’s a no-nonsense American IPA, from an earlier brewing era when it was less about huge hop flavors and more about making a well-balanced beer. You definitely taste the hops, but you also taste all the other stuff that makes a good IPA.

Bissell Brothers Brewing, Baby Genius, 4 percent ABV

The Bissell lads made this beer with the express purpose of you having more than one and drinking them during the summer. It’s smooth, hazy, a little fruity, a little bready. It’s the ideal session ale. What else do you need to know? Get your paws on a 4-pack and drink it next to the body of water of your choosing.

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Ciders

Norumbega Cidery, Cyser, 6.7 percent ABV

Yes, this is a bit higher than the 6 percent ABV cutoff we mentioned earlier. But Norumbega’s cyser — a cider made with both apples and honey — is just too delicious to leave off the list. Even with the rich honey sweetness, it remains dry and drinkable, with a pale golden color like liquid sunlight. It’s a bit magical, to be honest. A must try.

Ricker Hill Hard Cider, Maniac Gold, 5 percent ABV

Cider lovers won’t find a more reliable and tasty variety than Ricker Hill’s Maniac Gold, made from McIntosh apples from Ricker Hill’s family-owned orchard in Turner. It’s just amazingly, wonderfully, irresistibly apple-y. We recommend popping one open in August, just as apple season starts in Maine, to enjoy the full effect.

Watch: Here’s a look at Maine’s bustling craft beer scene

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.