We here in the Hudson Valley are blessed with the gift of great craft beer. So what should you have at your summer picnic or Fourth of July cookout?

The warm weather demands a beer that's delicious and, most importantly, refreshing. Now, some people will like a heavy Russian Imperial Stout or something similar regardless of weather, but many of us would prefer something with a lighter body and crispness at the sip. In no particular order...

  • Newburgh Brewing Company: Saison (Newburgh) - This one is one of my favorite beers in general. Newburgh has been around since 2012 and, while they've expanded their line of beers to include some really incredible and interesting unique beers (they've got one that mixes coffee beans into a sour ale!), at their heart they make good, solid, sessionable beers. This one is a perfect example of a beer that's got tons of flavor, but a low ABV and a body that won't slow you down and stop you from enjoying a couple of them.
  • Keegan Ales: Hurricane Kitty (Kingston) - You can't make a list of the best beers in the Hudson Valley--for any occasion--without including Keegan Ales. They've been around for over a decade and they've established themselves as an institution in Hudson Valley brewing. For all you IPA lovers out there, this one has a great hoppy flavor without the intense bitterness of some IPAs out there. A little bit of caramel flavor balances out the hoppiness and the relatively low ABV (only about 5.5%) will make sure you aren't dehydrated while standing over that grill.
  • Captain Lawrence: Sun Block (Elmsford) - This one is really interesting to me. It's a wheat beer, which often get categorized as very floral, light, and to some, off-putting and unaggressive. This flips that description on its head by being incredibly hoppy for the style (but not compared to most IPAs), with that great grapefruit and citrus flavor that lets you know this one is definitely a summer beer. Sharp, crisp, refreshing, and finishes with a bit of a tangy flavor.
  • Sloop Brewing Company: The Sauer Peach (Poughkeepsie) - Probably the most controversial choice for this list, not at all because it isn't an incredibly well-made beer; I think everyone who has ever had a Sloop beer can tell you they're some of the best brewers around. But sour beers certainly aren't for everyone. I love them, but I'm someone who literally eats lemons, so take that as you will. To me, this tastes like a more tart version of peach pie in a lighter-bodied beer that I could drink all day. One of the few beers that I could drink every single day and never tire of.
  • Brown's Brewing Co.: Cream Ale (Troy) - This one is not only local and delicious, it's actually an award-winner. This beer brought home the Best Hudson Valley Beer award at Tap New York this year and one taste will tell you why. Incredibly refreshing and drinkable, but with a real creamy profile that gives it enough body to let you know you're drinking a beer that was made with care. A great beer for any time, but there's something special about hanging out outdoors enjoying this one.

Well, there you have it! Start making your plans now and of course, don't forget to stock up on these beers that we're lucky enough to be able to enjoy nice and fresh.