Three tasty craft beers for summer: Summerbright, Summer Love and Colette Farmhouse

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Colburn

“In the summertime when the weather’s high” anything light, refreshing, and drinkable — with some flavor and character — makes an excellent choice. The aisles at the local beer mart are actually loaded with solid beach brews. Styles like the Belgian Wit, American Cream Ale, Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Helles Bock, and American Pale Wheat Ale all make the grade when “School’s Out”. Many reach for a solstice-celebrating seasonal. And why not? There’s certainly an abundance of these on the shelves. Any brewery worth its salt releases a special offering, usually around the time when the “Boys of Summer” start playing for real. Traditionally a good percentage of these brews are garbage though. Thirst quenching and non-offensive perhaps, but they’re generally watery and lack any resemblance to quality. It can be a “Cruel Summer” when throwing hard-earned dough at mediocre hooch disguised as craft beer.

Read more: Three tasty craft beers for summer: Summerbright, Summer Love and Colette Farmhouse

Beer Noir reviews: Behind the 8 Ball Stout and A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale

A tale of two beers.

The Strip’s always beautiful at sunset. Tall palms seductively sway from the cool evening breeze just like the gals down at the Go-Go. The large sign on the hill reminds me that this is the place where dreams come true, where fortunes are made, where stars are born. Fact is though, this town is merciless: It will break you down, chew you up, and send you back from where you came — penniless and broken. For every star that makes it, a thousand don’t and some of those end up with concrete boots and a tarry demise. Sometimes just wakin’ up with your dignity and a nickel in your pocket feels like an accomplishment. Sometimes, just wakin’ up does… I feel like I’ve been walking this boulevard of broken dreams for days. A sign reading “Craft Beer Here” draws me toward the door. I walk in. A friendly voice asks, “Hey stranger, you lookin’ for a Blonde tonight?” I tell him, “No Sam, I’m lookin’ for something with a little more personality. And make it a double.” He nods and says, “Well, in that case, I’ve got A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ just for you chief.”

Read more: Beer Noir reviews: Behind the 8 Ball Stout and A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale

Retro brew is cool: Five good canned craft beers for the patio

What was once dated and lowbrow is now new and trendy. Canned beer has traditionally gotten a bad rap. Childhood memories of tin-wrapped cheap swill still abound in my clouded head. Back in those days (the 70’s and 80’s) the shelves in the Midwest were lined with cans of Miller High Life, Schmidt (with the wildlife), PBR, Blatz, Schaefer (they actually still make that stuff), and of course the king himself — Budweiser. It was all relative though, beer was beer and it was mostly cheap swill. There was no Dogfish Head or Rogue — choices were limited. The upscale brew at that time was Michelob, and if you were suave and had the funds, the night could belong to Michelob in a bottle.

Read more: Retro brew is cool: Five good canned craft beers for the patio

The Easter Bunny grabs a few beers: Aprihop, Big Easy Imperial and Alpine Spring

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Colburn

Gluttonous feasts and getting together with family and friends are part of this festive day. Of course, something needs to wash down all that grub, especially with family. Wine is served and is often the fermented beverage of choice, usually a box or three of Franzia Blush could be found at our family Easter gala growing up. But beer is a great addition to the dinner table as well…especially if Franzia Blush is the vino of choice (and they should be reading more TaylorEason.com).

Read more: The Easter Bunny grabs a few beers: Aprihop, Big Easy Imperial and Alpine Spring

Three great Irish beers for Saint Patty's Day: Guinness and Murphy's Stout

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Colburn

Stouts — dark ales usually brewed with roasted barley — have been hand-crafted since the 18th century in Ireland. Originally billed as “Stout Porters,” these raven-colored elixirs are basically strong, roasted porters. Most beer geeks associate these delicious black brews with the Emerald Isle. They are far and away the most popular barley beverage in the land of Leprechauns.

Read more: Three great Irish beers for Saint Patty’s Day: Guinness and Murphy’s Stout

Valentine's Day beers 2012: Ommegang Seduction and Aphrodite

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Colburn

Cards, candy and flowers are, of course, traditional Valentine’s gifts. Chocolate and berries (usually strawberries) are also commonly given and complement each other, much like those famous pairs. But beer makes a unique and tasty gift on this romantic holiday. Last Valentine’s Day we paired a decadent Rogue Chocolate Stout with the sugary raspberry flavors of St. Louis Premium Framboise Lambic (see last year’s article). This year we explore a pair of aphrodisiacs released by a respected Cooperstown, NY brewery.

Read more: Valentine’s Day beers 2012: Ommegang Seduction and Aphrodite

Beer n' pizza: Two great tastes for a Super Bowl score

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Colburn

With the football game and socializing at parties, hosts need some delicious yet simple fare to complement the suds. Grilling or barbecue is always a solid choice, but in early February, it’s not a realistic option for many parts of the nation. Beer and pizza go together as well as…well… beer and football. Combine all three and every fan will be happy, regardless of the score. This year’s Superbowl has cities with wonderful, drinkable brews. To commemorate this historic event, we’ll recommend two distinct beers from a brewery in each town, Boston and New York. The beer styles chosen from each brewery pair well with pizza, a lager and an IPA.

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Wild West Brew Review: Shiner Bohemian Black Lager, Billie's Chilies, Lucky U IPA

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Colburn

We might not have all those fancy New York beers down here in the desert southwest but we like ours just fine. In fact we think they’re just dandy and I’ll bet a handful of silver dollars you will too. You see, when you’re out on the range on a cold evenin’ and settle down for the night, you want a drink that’s gonna help keep you warm as a horned toad on a sunny rock.

Read more: Wild West Brew Review: Shiner Bohemian Black Lager, Billie’s Chilies, Lucky U IPA

Sam Adams Infinium: A Champagne-like brew for New Year's Eve celebration

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Colburn

This bubbly barley beverage is a collaboration between famed microbrew Sam Adams and the planet’s oldest brewery, Germany’s revered Weihenstephan. Their goal was to create not just an innovative brew, but an entirely new style of beer. Sam Adams suds guru Jim Koch claims (in many videos) that it took over two years of ambitious tasty development to achieve this challenging objective.

Read more: Sam Adams Infinium: A Champagne-like brew for New Year’s Eve celebration

The 2nd annual winter brew challenge: Eight solstice suds tested

As the mercury drops and the cold nights get longer, beer drinkers across the land reach for rich and hearty brews to warm the soul. Breweries everywhere, of course, realize this and release their cold-weather winter offerings, usually called Winter Warmers, Christmas Ales, or Winter Ales/Lagers. These seasonal suds can be of any style but generally utilize roasted and crystal malts to achieve a darker, richer flavor profile. Some of these malt-forward, substantial beers are spiced and most are well above 6 % ABV (Alcohol by Volume). Speaking from experience, many do indeed elicit a warming feeling. Last year, eight winter seasonal beers were reviewed and many made the grade. This year, in the 2nd annual Winter Beer Challenge (see the 1st annual tasting), a new crop of eight solstice suds step up to the plate vying for some holiday attention.

Read more: The 2nd annual winter brew challenge: Eight solstice suds tested