THE SUMMER beer season is upon us and you're still not ready to show off your six-pack?
Can't fit into last year's keg? Didn't achieve the proper shade at your friendly indoor drinking salon? Ashamed of your can?
You need Joe Sixpack's Summer Shape-up Plan!
1. Clear out your winter brews. Sipping those heavy ales is like wearing an overcoat in August. Move 'em to the auxiliary fridge and don't worry - they're hearty enough to last till next fall.
2. Go shopping. Summer fashions are on the shelves. This year's hot trend: Belgian-style wheat beer.
3. Stick to your diet. Remember, summer beer is best when it's fresh, so don't bulk up on extra cases. You don't want to be stuck with last year's look in '09.
4. Pump up. There's nothing better than fresh draft beer at a party, served from a cold keg. Look for a sixtel - it's just one-third the size of a half-keg and serves about 50 12-ounce cups of your favorite ale.
5. Have a summer fling. Go ahead, try a fruit beer or a heady hefeweizen. Don't worry, you can go back to your old ball-'n-chain after Labor Day.
Pull on your sneakers and get active this summer. (Remember, always stretch for the opener before engaging in vigorous exercise.)
Cyclists traditionally fill their bottles with a radler (or shandy). Try Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, or make your own: one part Radeberger pilsner to one part lemonade.
Dunk Anchor Summer into a bucket of ice water, then tell your lazy kid to cut the grass.
_ Poolside lounging
Don't risk cutting your bare feet on broken bottles, grab a can of Sly Fox Royal Weisse or Dale's Pale Ale.
You won't get lost on your way to second base even after three or four bottles of Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer Ale (just 4.5 percent alcohol).
A Belgian-style saison will stand up to anything that Kingsford can burn. Try Heavy Seas Red Sky at Night or Fantome Saison.
Sweat-busting refreshment is your goal, but you won't sacrifice flavor with these varieties.
Thanks to the success of Hoegaarden and Blue Moon, Belgian-style white beer is one of the most popular offerings on summertime tap lineups. It's not hard to see why: the murky ale's cool, fruity goodness slices through your thirst and pleases the palate.
Try Allagash White, River Horse Double White, Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat, Blanche de Bruxelles, Weyerbacher Blanche, Victory Whirlwind Wit, Philadelphia Brewing Walt Wit or Legacy Midnight Wit.
_ Blond ale
Light, airy, and it goes down easy - talk about stereotypes. Some blonds offer something memorable, though. Try Brasserie Thiriez Blonde, Great Divide Samurai, Bell's Third Coast or Clipper City Gold.
It's hazy, hot and humid and it's only half-past eight - hand me a hefeweizen. The cloudy, aromatic German ale sure beats O.J. Try Hacker-Pschorr Weisse, Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier, Schneider Weisse or Ayinger Brau Weisse.
_ Munich dunkel
A dark beer in the summer? Absolutely. Dunkel is richly flavored with roasted malt, but with a light, easy-to-drink body and no more alcohol than your standard yellow lager. Try Warsteiner Premium Dunkel, Ettaler Kloster Dunkel or Penn Dark.
Beer freaks often ignore this golden refresher because it's too light or just reminds them too much of BudMillerCoors. You can rediscover the style with a sampling of some of America's best pilsners, brewed in our backyard. Try Stoudt's Pils, Victory Prima Pils, Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, Troegs Sunshine Pils or Dock Street Royal Bohemian.
Think of this one as an ale version of pilsner - clear, golden, lightly hopped and exceptionally easy to drink. In Cologne, Germany, where Kolsch originated, the beer is properly served in tall cylindrical glasses that, in the words of one brewery, "make it easy to order another one and hard to count." Try Reissdorf Kolsch, Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale, Blue Point Yellowtail Pale Ale or Pyramid Curve Ball.
Dogfish Head Festina Peche: A peachy twist on tart Berliner weisse.
: A peachy twist on tart Berliner weisse.
Lagunitas Sirius: A strong (7.5 percent alcohol) cream ale, perfect for the dog days of summer.
La Rulles Estivale: A light-bodied Belgian with American hops and Orval yeast.
Founders Rubaeus: A raspberry beer that will put hair on your chest.
Lancaster Rare Rooster Summer Rye: A pale ale with a crisp, tangy finish.
Troegs Dreamweaver Wheat: Aromatic and ripped with muscular flavor.
Let's see your summer form Thursday at Triumph Brewing (117 Chestnut St., Old City), when I'll be tapping the first wooden barrel of Triumph Hefeweizen. The foam spews at 6 p.m., and it's just 3 bucks a glass. Info: 215-625-0855. *