"Perfect Together - Beer and Summer"
This month column was written by Bob's friend
It may be spring but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature since the
temperature hovered in the mid-80s which screams summer to me.
That got me to thinking of just what makes for a great summer brew?
What traditions are behind these seasonals? What foods work best
with these beers?
To me, great summer beers should be crisp, refreshing, and
food-friendly, with light to medium body and moderate alcohol, yet
still packed with aroma and flavor. Sound like an impossible task?
Nope, there are quite a few beers that fill the bill. One type that
does is wheat beer.
For practical reasons, most beers are made with at least some
malted barley. With a hard husk and relative lack of glutens, barley
performs poorly in the bakery, but is ideal for malting and beer
brewing. Wheat is the exact opposite: The grain has no encasement
and is rich in glutens and other proteins useful in bread making, but
it tends to gum up the brewing process. In fact, it's almost impossible
to make beer solely from wheat. Because of that brewers
discovered that including a proportion of wheat in the mash leads to
a highly desirable beverage, a lighter-bodied beer with refreshing,
thirst-quenching acidity which makes for a great beer style for the
hot weather evolved.
Ales of this type are often called "white" beers, witbier, or bière
blanche in Belgium, and weissbier in Germany. Belgian witbier is
one of my favorites. It's brewed from malted barley and raw wheat,
and spiced (mostly) with coriander and Curacao bitter and orange
peel. Hops come into play but subtly. It's a bright, refreshing style.
German wheat beers are called Weissbier and come from breweries
like Schneider, Franziskaner, and Weihenstephaner. While there are
various styles of Weiss or Weizen (wheat), including the oxymoronic
Dunkelweiss (literally "dark white"), The style's fruity and spicy
elements, ranging from fresh apples, banana, and gum to cloves
and nutmeg, make for great drinking.
For some, including my good friend Bob, a few of those flavors,
especially banana, are not very appealing. If that's you try staying in
the top-fermenting ale family and enjoy a Kölsch. It's a fresh,
light-bodied, and slightly malty golden ale indigenous to Cologne,
Germany/. Essentially, it's an ale that looks and drinks like a light,
flavorful (bottom-fermenting) lager. Because it's light, balanced, and
full-flavored, Kölsch works across the entire summer menu.
Also consider a Belgium, "farmhouse" brew - a Saison. Using hard
water, heavy hopping, and high-mashing temperatures, this very
dry, crisp, and highly carbonated style has more alcohol than most
typical summer beers but it's great nonetheless.
Lastly, go for a summer classic, pilsner. It's the world's most popular
beer style. In many cases, however, it's also the most watered down
and insipid. To quote Garrett Oliver: "Pilsner was invented in Czech
Bohemia, perfected in Germany, and turned into mass-market fizz in
America." So when going for pilsner be sure it's from a craft brewer.
That's it from me. Thanks Bob, it's been a blast writing this!
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My thanks to Matt for this month's column.
See you next time to
"speak about beer".
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