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Cornelius News

Summer Brews: Hot spots for a cold beer

Flight of beers at Royal Bliss Brewing Co.

Story and photos by Jason Benavides

June 10. When the season starts to heat up, I look forward to the summer lights…beer that is. If you’re a seasonal drinker like me, stouts are a thing of the past and the golden ale reigns king for the summer. I’m no stranger to beer but I’m also no expert so I asked Dave Gonzalez, head brewer of Lost World’s Brewing Co., for his thoughts on the subject.


“Generally, summer beers are lighter ales and lagers—or even a beer with tropical notes.” He continues to say a successful summer beer is “one that looks, smells, and tastes good, taking into consideration the summer heat.”

Big T and DK from The Brew Buds craft beer podcast also shared some knowledge with me saying “a summer beer should be an easy-drinking light lager, pilsner or session. Think of a refreshing drink you would enjoy after mowing the lawn or sipping on the beach. Nothing that would fill you up.”

Cornelius and Lake Norman have so many great craft beer options I can’t mention them all, so I’ve done my best to highlight a few and get some additional expert picks as well. No worries if you’re not into light beers—I won’t judge if you down a porter in July—but hopefully there are few surprises here that will pique your interest. Cheers!

Oh, Zappy Days, Hazy IPL

Ass Clown Brewing Co.

10620 Bailey Road E, Cornelius. 704.997.8490

Ass Clown has the largest selection of beers around but make no mistake, they still value quality before quantity. The seemingly endless list of beers makes picking one summer standout a daunting task.

My pick

Oh, Zappy Days, Hazy IPL

The Zappa hops make for a strong tropical aroma. Notes of mango, passion fruit and pine can be found in the smooth body of this lager.


Employee pick: Sam Spicer

Taste Receptor, Hazy Double IPA

“There’s no better blend of hops and pineapple. Taste Receptor is a fruity IPA “without being too sweet.”

Swell Rider, Session Ale

D9 Brewing Co.

11138-C Treynorth Dr., Cornelius. 704.457.9368

D9 has made quite a name for themselves due in part to their innovative sour selection. Since opening in 2014 their “exciting and original crafted ales” have made them a community hit.

My pick

Swell Rider, Session Ale

I’ll give a nod to newcomer Tacky Toucan. The grilled pineapple sour almost swayed my pick, but I have to follow my nose. Swell Rider is still the one for me. I’d drink this tangerine session ale in summer, winter, breakfast.


Employee pick: Katy Talbert, Taproom Supervisor

Into the White

The super refreshing staple white ale is perfect for being outside. “Drinking it makes me wish I was on a boat.” Me too Katy, me too.

Yardly Working Honey-Lemon Kolsch

Eleven Lakes Brewing Co.

10228 Bailey Rd. Suite 201, Cornelius. 704.998.9017

Eleven Lakes celebrated their five-year anniversary in May. Success can be attributed to the attention to detail in their beers and the family feel inside the taproom. You’ll find live music and events weekly.

My pick

Yardly Working Honey-Lemon Kolsch

Yardly Working is a newly released kolsch that I was immediately drawn to. It’s extremely light and goes down smooth.

Employee pick: Stephanie McKinley

Southern Hospitality, New England IPA

A “light and refreshing” tropical IPA with a hoppy finish. The Mosaic and Citra hops add a pine finish.

Dream Weaver, Cream Ale

King Canary Brewing Co.

562 Williamson Road, Mooresville. 704.862.4440

This Mooresville brewery grew out of a remodeled house overlooking Lake Norman. Four years ago Andrea Gravina and late husband Matt opened the doors to a now thriving business.

My pick

Dream Weaver, Cream Ale

This was a surprisingly light cream ale with a subtle hint of peach added for sweetness.


Employee pick: Nic Tallmon, Taproom Manager

Stud Puffin, New England Pale Ale

The recently crowned flagship brew is “super drinkable and perfect for lake season. Drink 1 or 2, you’ll finish the 4 pack.”

Pro tip: Mix Dream Weaver with Stud Puffin.

Emmer Cherry Wheat

Lost Worlds Brewing Co.

19700-D One Norman Blvd., Cornelius. 980.689.2467

Lost Worlds has multiple award-winning beers on tap and founder Dave Hamme was recently named entrepreneur of the year by Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce. Even with all the high honors the taproom and beer garden make for one of the most chill spots in the hot summer months.

My pick

Emmer Cherry Wheat

The “taproom favorite,” Cherry Wheat has a light, almost tart citrus flavor that gives it the edge over other options like Kama IPA and Morleys Hefeweizen.


Employee pick: Chris Sturm

Equator Island IPA

“Nice Summer beer. Juicy with a hoppy kick, perfect for a hot summer day”

Pro tip: Mix Emmer Cherry Wheat with Equator Island IPA.

Kettle Fog, Hazy IPA

Primal Brewery

16432 Old Statesville Rd., Huntersville. 704.947.2920

Primal Brewery has a great German-inspired beer garden that pairs perfectly with your choice of summer beer. They feature a steady rotation of food trucks, live music and special events year round.

My pick

Kettle Fog Hazy IPA

I thought the flagship lager, Lawn Boy would easily be my pick, but the hazy IPA won me over. The light and aromatic Kettle Fog is the clear winner.


Employee pick: Addy McGowan

Blood Orange Pale Ale

This citrus delight is “great on a hot summer day.” When this seasonal brew is on tap, get it while it lasts.

Blair’s Honey Blonde Ale

Royal Bliss Brewing Co.

7532 Royal Bliss Court, Denver. 704.951.8388

Family-owned and operated by Larry and Ginger Griffin, Royal Bliss Brewing Co. celebrated their two-year anniversary in March. The refined yet approachable business plan along with Brewmaster Chris Wertman’s passion has launched Royal Bliss beyond expectations. Another reason for success is the on-location kitchen run by former EEZ Executive Chef Bobby Lamby. The seasonal menu, live music and variety of beer make for a great summer destination.

My pick

Blair’s Honey Blonde Ale

I’m all a buzz for this blonde. The subtle touch of sweetness makes this light ale a winner on a warm day. The seasonal release won’t last forever, try it bee-fore it’s gone.


Employee pick: Madison Goodin, Director of Brand & Marketing

Heart of Berries

This fruit sour that was recently brought back by popular demand uses actual berry puree. Heart of Berries is on tap through summer.

Ass Clown Brewing Co. taproom