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Stave off summer heat with this Bradenton beer guide

John Steinbeck once said, "There is nothing in the world like the first taste of beer," and he never weathered a summer in Florida.

Hot days are here again, and a cold draft sure can help make them drift by a little quicker.

Boozy beers such as stouts, porters and double IPAs have their merits, but they do not fare too well on sweltering days.

Rather, it is best to stick with a light ale, a wheat beer or something fruity with a low ABV (alcohol by volume).

With refreshment in mind, here are some Bradenton beers that will leave you feeling lighter than air.

3 Keys Brewing Beer Flight 2
Vegetarians can chow down on nachos, “Kentucky Beer Cheese,” spinach and artichoke dip, burgers (substitute beef for a vegan patty) veggie pizza or a vegetarian waffle sandwich at 3 Keys Brewing and Eatery in Bradenton. Ryan Ballogg rballogg@bradenton.com

3 Keys Brewing and Eatery

Ghostface 'Nilla

For hot weather, 3 Keys Brewing founder Jeff Douglas recommends Ghostface 'Nilla. It's a vanilla cream ale brewed with Madagascar vanilla beans with an ABV of 5.5 percent that goes down smooth.

Pair with: 3 Little Piggies Pizza, featuring pepperoni, pulled pork and thick-cut maple bacon, drizzled with house made barbeque sauce.

3 Keys Brewing beer flight
Try a little bit of everything with a truly Floridian flight at 3 Keys Brewing and Eatery. Ryan Ballogg rballogg@bradenton.com

Billy Fred Session IPA

This beer is named after Douglas' grandfather who served in World War II, and it recently won a silver medal at the New York International Beer Competition. The judges were probably impressed with its bright and tropical, fruity profile, courtesy of Citra hops.

"Session IPAs are hot right now because they have the same taste as a West Coast IPA, but they're lower in alcohol," Douglas said.

The ABV on Billy Fred is 4.7 percent.

Pair with: Any of 3 Key's signature burgers, which are crafted with local beef raised on grass and spent grains from the brewery.

Suns Out Buns Out

Suns Out Buns Out is a New England IPA, an East Coast take on the IPA that is growing in popularity. "They're hazy, juicy, not as bitter as West Coast IPAs," Douglas said. "They're very floral and easy drinking."

Pair with: 3 Key's Buffalo chicken waffle sandwich.

3 Keys Brewing stein wall
At 3 Keys, patrons can order a custom beer mug and have it stored for future use on the back wall of the taproom. Ryan Ballogg rballogg@bradenton.com

Pink Sky at Night

Pink Sky at Night is a tart and tangy raspberry Florida Weisse beer. Florida Weisse beers are a Florida version of the Berliner Weiss (a traditional German sour beer). The difference is that Florida Weisse's are fermented with fruit, often tropical and locally grown.

Pair with: A salad, such as 3 Key's bacon chicken ranch salad.

3 Keys also offers craft ciders created by co-owner Cathy Douglas. Try Little Fat Granny, a tart cider made with Granny Smith apples.

Visit: 3 Keys Brewing and Eatery, 2505 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton. 3keysbrewing.com.

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Darwin's Summadayze IPA is available on draft in the taproom and on store shelves throughout Florida. Darwin Brewing Co.

Darwin Brewing Co.

Summadayze IPA

This beer has summer in the name for a reason. It is made with four varieties of hops (Nugget, Cascade, Columbus and Zeus). The result is a tropical cascade of flavor. According to Darwin's website it is "designed for daily drinking in Florida."

Pair with: Lomo saltado (Peruvian tenderloin stir fry).

San Juan

San Juan is Darwin's take on a Helles Lager, a traditional German beer style. Helles means bright in German, and this beer fits the bill with fruity notes and a subtle sweetness from German malts.

Pair with: Seafood, citrus flavored dishes, ceviche or light barbeque.

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A beer flight at Darwin Brewing Co. Darwin Brewing Co.

Lemongrass Lager

A lager brewed with lemongrass and ginger, this beer tastes crisp with just a hint of sweet, and the ABV is only 4.9 percent.

Pair with: Baked fish with lemon and black pepper.

Cran-Lemon Witbier

This wheat beer combines cranberry and lemon for a sweet and sour, or "agridulce," experience. The ABV is 5 percent.

Pair with: A grilled summer vegetable salad.

Visit: Darwin Brewing Co., 803 17th Ave. W., Bradenton. darwinbrewingco.com. Darwin doesn't serve food, but food trucks visit often, and outside food is welcome in the taproom.

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The Good Liquid Brewing Co. is Bradenton's newest brewery, and there is something for every taste on the tap list. Pictured is a glass of Kumquat and Sour Orange Gose. Ryan Ballogg rballogg@bradenton.com

The Good Liquid Brewing Co.

Lemon Wit Shandy

This beverage combines the ultimate two refreshers, beer and lemonade. Good Liquid owner Sandra Krail says this one is a hit with beer drinkers and non-beer drinkers alike.

Watermelon Wheat

This beer is created with no less than 117 pounds of puree from fresh Florida seedless watermelons. "The fresh fruit gives it a fresher taste," Krail said. You won't find a watermelon beer this flavorful from a big name brewery at the store.

Good Liquid Snooty Tribute
A tribute to Snooty the manatee in the taproom at The Good Liquid Brewing Co. Ryan Ballogg rballogg@bradenton.com

Blonde Milk Stout

Milk stouts are typically dark and thick beers with milk sugar added for creaminess, but this is a totally different take. "It's almost like drinking an iced coffee," Krail said. The beer is light and frothy with notes of vanilla cream.

Key Lime Sour IPA

This hopped sour IPA, blended with real Key Lime juice, starts out tasting like an IPA but has a delightfully surprising sour finish.

Up next: Also, keep an eye out for Good Liquid's take on Kölsch beer around the Fourth of July. Kölsch is a beer-style hailing from Cologne, Germany. It's made like a regular ale with top-fermenting yeast, but then stored cold for several months like a lager. The result is a crisp, clean and slightly sweet beer that offers the best of both styles.

Pair with: Krail says any of Good Liquid's beers would go great with grilled foods during a hot spell. The brewery does not have a kitchen, but there are food trucks on site over the weekend and patrons are welcome to bring their own food anytime.

Visit: The Good Liquid Brewing Co., 4824 14th St. W., Bradenton. thegoodliquidbrewing.com.

Motorworks Brewing Pulp Friction
Motorworks Brewing's Pulp Friction, a grapefruit IPA available by the glass, can or growler. Ryan Ballogg rballogg@bradenton.com

Motorworks Brewing

Pulp Friction

This American IPA packs a powerful grapefruit smack. "It's just bursting with citrus flavor," said Barry Elwonger with Motorworks Brewing. "It kind of replaced mimosas in my diet." It is available on draft in the taproom as well as to-go in growlers and six-packs.

Pair with: "I personally love to drink it alongside a salad with a citrus vinaigrette dressing," Elwonger said. "I've also had it with salmon topped with a mango chutney."

Cruiser Kölsch

"It's a really nice, light German-influenced hybrid lager," Elwonger said. It comes in at an ABV of 4.8 percent and is set for release in cans in early July.

Pair with: "I'd put it up against brats and burgers for grilling season," Elwonger said.

Lavender Ale

You won't find lavender beers at many breweries, and they offer a unique tasting experience. "We're one of the only breweries in the country playing with food-grade lavender on a production scale," Elwonger said. The beer is on draft at Motorworks for spring and summer, and a one-time can release is coming soon.

V Twin Vienna Lager

This American Beer Association award-winner could be compared to some domestic drafts, but the quality ingredients used to brew it take the flavor to the next level.

Pair with: This is another good one to pair with grilled foods at cookouts.

Visit: Motorworks Brewing, 1014 Ninth St. W., Bradenton. motorworksbrewing.com.

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Naughty Monk Brewery is a good spot to try innovative takes on traditional beer styles in the Lakewood Ranch/Bradenton area. Naughty Monk Brewery

Naughty Monk Brewery

Naughty Lager

Naughty Monk is known for offering sound takes on traditional beer styles, and the Naughty Lager is no exception. "It's a four percent American light lager, real easy drinking," said Curtis Dille, head brewer with Naughty Monk. It's a good one for fans of traditional American domestic beers.

Naughty Blonde

Naughty Blonde is a bit heavier on the alcohol with an ABV of 6 percent, but still refreshes with a light malt sweetness and notes of orange and coriander. It's also on tap at restaurants throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Naughty Monk beer flight
Try a bit of everything that Naughty Monk has to offer with a flight. Naughty Monk

Blood Orange Hefe

This is a refreshing take on a classic Hefeweizen, chock full of blood orange puree with an ABV of 4.1 percent.

IPA Hefeweizen

Combining beer styles is a growing trend in the world of craft beer, and Naughty Monk's IPA Hefeweizen does it seamlessly. "It's kind of like a New England style IPA, but we've added quite a bit of wheat to it," Dille said. "It's juicy."

Up next: Dille is also in the midst of brewing some beers just for summer, including two Kölsches, one traditional and one with honey added. Saisons and Berliner Weisses are also on the release schedule for July.

Pair with: Dille recommends pairing Naughty Blonde with hot wings from the grill. Nearby restaurants Cleveland Kitchen and The Granary deliver to Naughty Monk, food trucks stop by on Sundays, and guests are always welcome to set up a spread on the picnic-style tables in the taproom.

Visit: Naughty Monk Brewery, 2507 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Bradenton. naughtymonkbrewery.com.

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