The biggest of the big brewers is Anheuser-Busch, the St. Louis-based giant. (Your corner brewpub would like to sell in a year what Anheuser-Busch sells in a single afternoon during baseball season.) It now offers a range of specialty craft-style beers under its Michelob label. One of the best of these is Michelob HefeWeizen. This is a surprisingly elegant brew, with a creamy presence on the palate, great balance, and fresh, fruity tones. Add a slice of lemon and you're ready for all the heat summer can dish out.
PINKUS ORGANIC HEFEWEIZEN ($3.50 per 17-oz. bottle)
Wheat beer is often associated with Bavaria, where the powers in charge once declared it a monopoly of the state. But northern Germany has its own Weissbier tradition. Johannes Müller and his wife started two yeast-driven enterprises - a brewery and a bakery - in the northern German university town of Münster in 1816. Although it sounds like the birthplace of the lovable television monster of the same name, Münster was actually famous for beer rather than for guys with bolts in their necks. Of the 150 brewers that set up shop in Münster since the year the Müllers arrived, today all except Pinkus have disappeared.
The Pinkus-Müller brewery is still a family-operated business, with a well-known pub frequented by Münster's thirsty university students. The company is committed to organic methods, and makes this Hefeweizen with certified organic grain. The brew has a honeyed nose that leads, as in many northern German wheat beers, to refreshingly tangy citrus flavors on the palate.
HOEGAARDEN WIT ($6 per four-pack)
Belgium probably produces more styles of beer than just about anywhere else, from the great abbey ales and wild-yeast lambics to fruity kriek and bottle-aged gueuze. Some of these are an acquired taste, but one Belgian beer that just about anyone can appreciate is wit, Belgium's answer to Germany's Weissbier. Belgian brewers, however, love to flavor their versions with spices and other aromatics. Hoegaarden Wit was the creation of Belgian brewing enthusiast Pierre Celis. Determined to revive the wit style, he set up a brewery in the mid-1960s in Hoegaarden, a town that had once boasted one brewery for every 100 citizens.