Everyone craves an ice cold brew or six when the dog days arrive. But which to choose? When the mercury rises, even the most devout barley beverage evangelists gag at the thought of a rich, heavy Doppelbock, Imperial Stout, or Double IPA.
“In the summertime when the weather is 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.
Here are three “summertime” suds we get jiggy wit when it’s “Time to sit back and unwind.”
Summerbright Ale: Comes with a fun, sun-face logo that hints as to what this Breckenridge Brewery’s 4.5% ABV seasonal is about. Lemongrass aromas emanate from the pint glass on this dark-yellow colored ale. It smells like a “summer breeze.” Light, sweet malt flavors open up with nice orange and lemon yeast notes following. The finish is fruity and clean, with some faint hop bitterness and wheat in the background. Watery in a good way, and the quintessential lawnmower beer. Tastes like a Belgian Wit/Cream Ale/Pilsner hybrid. Perfect for the beach, and it makes us feel fine…
Colette Farmhouse Ale: Denver’s Great Divide Brewing Company brews up this 7.3% ABV Saison in honor of the Belgian Farmhouse Ales that workers have enjoyed for centuries. A thick, white foam hat covers this highly carbonated and gorgeous hazy, straw-colored elixir. If it’s “summer in the city,” this sophisticated Colorado knockout would fit right in. The nose, not surprisingly, is all spicy citrus-y yeast notes. Exotic yeast flavors are found throughout. It starts out tart initially then gets funky and fruity, with banana and lemon mostly. The finish is dry biscuit malt and slightly bitter, with some heat from the alcohol evident as well. Complex, medium-bodied and deliciously chewy, it’s refreshing yet full of character. We could sip this one each and every one of those “endless summer nights.”
Summer Love Ale: This all American Blonde Ale brewed by Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing Company is quite beautiful. Eye-catching, effervescent yellow hues seek attention, especially on warm “summer nights.” Musty pine scents waft across the nose as the glass lifts. Distinctly Bavarian sweet herbal malts are noticeable first, with a nice citrus bite mid-sip. The finish is filled with earthy, pine, and lemon hop notes but not over done. Hop-filled and slightly dry for a summer seasonal, but in a good way. It’s like a light German IPA with some American influence. Summer Love had us a blast, I’m sure you will too.