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5 tips to ace your beer game this summer

Whether you opt for your usual, or are on the hunt for new beers worth trying, our experts' tips will help you get the most out of your brews
People sitting around a table drinking beer

Some things are hard to beat, and relaxing with a cold beer in the sunshine is one of them. But is there a way you can make your beer even better?

Whether you’re puzzling over the best beer choice for a barbecue with friends, or branching out from your usual, we’ve got the lowdown on choosing, serving, and storing your booze this summer.

We got four beer experts in to Which? HQ to assess 30 supermarket beers for our summer 2022 taste test. While we had them in, we quizzed them about all things beer-related for some insider tips.

Find out how to get the best out of supermarket beers below, and to see which beers came out top in our tests head to our guide to the best summer beers.

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1. Know your options

Man choosing beer from a shelf

If you’re looking to branch out from your usual this sunny season, then lager lovers could try a traditional golden ale or a slightly stronger pale ale. These have more bitterness and aroma from the increased amount of hops. 

If hoppy flavours aren’t your thing, we uncovered some top-notch fruity and citrussy beers in our tests, which our experts thought would be great for the beer hesitant. 

There’s a tendency to feel that lighter and brighter beers are more pleasant during the summer, but it can sometimes also be nice to enjoy a cold dark beer, especially if it’s a good food match with what’s on the barbecue.  

It’s worth experimenting with different types to see what really floats your boat.

Pimm's vs Asda Summer Cup vs Sainsbury's - find out how cheaper own label summer punch measured up to the big brand in our head to head taste test

2. Serving tricks to try

Beer being poured into a glass

While some glasses suit different styles of beer better, having the right beer is more important than having the right glass to go with it. 

Our experts did warn however that whichever glass you pick needs to be properly clean. Bubbles sticking to the side of the glass is a sign the glass isn’t completely clean, which can affect the taste of your beer. 

Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle when pouring and don't fill your glass all the way to the brim. This is to allow space for the head, which adds to the aroma and flavour of your first sip - and to make sure half of it doesn't end up all over your arm while you're carrying it.  

While a hot summer's day may call for a nicely chilled brew, trying your beer at a warmer temperature can unlock more flavour and aromas. Don’t serve it warmer than 10°C, though.

Stock up on the best food and drink this summer - we've covered everything for day to day staples and party favourites

 3. Store beer properly to maximise flavour

Beer bottles standing up in a fridge

It’s important to keep your beer in a cool, dark place all year round, but especially in summer. Bottled beer, even in brown bottles, is susceptible to UVA and UVB rays breaking down compounds in the hops, which then become ‘off’ flavours. 

Store corked bottles on their side and crown caps standing up - this means only a minimal amount of beer inside is exposed to the air trapped in the bottle, which will lead to less oxidation. 

Need more fridge space? See our guide to the best fridges

4. Think about what you're eating

Food and drinks on a table outside

Some beers will work better with some foods than others, but our experts suggested aiming to pair the intensity of the beer with that of your food. 

So, opt for a light beer with a light dish, or vice-versa. 

If you're feeling fancy, you can also look to cut through, complement or contrast flavours - sip a citrussy beer with barbecued sardines or pair a sweeter beer with salty halloumi. Alternatively, a big, bitter IPA would work nicely with sweet, sticky barbecue fare.

Get geared up for summer with our pick of the tastiest barbecue food including the best pork sausages, best beef burgers, best vegan sausages and best vegan burgers 

5. Don't settle for sub-standard low alcohol options

0% alcohol Heineken beer on a shelf

The body that alcohol brings to a beer - particularly pale beers - can be hard to replace, but our experts say things have come a long way since the early days of low-alcohol options, so there’s no excuse for low alcohol beers not to taste great. 

The no/low beers in our taste test were a mixed bunch, but a few excelled - so if you're on the hunt for a tasty alternative, check our best beers guide.

Looking for ways to cut the cost of your shopping bill? Find out the cheapest supermarket based on our our monthly price analysis

Which? beer taste tests

Beers featured in our Summer Taste Test

We asked a panel of four independent beer experts to taste and rate 30 beers available in supermarkets. They tried IPAs (Indian Pale Ale), traditional golden ales, no/low alcohol beers and flavoured beers. The experts didn’t know which beers they were tasting and each expert tried the beers in a different order (within a designated category).

We uncovered some well-balanced Best Buy ales, great-value fruity flavoured beers and some to steer clear of. 

See the full selection, and our recommendations, in our guide to the best beers.