Refreshment Meets Flavor
As we move into those hot days of August nothing is a refreshing as a
quality beer. The big question is which one? Here are some of my
thoughts on a few beers to try as the temperature rises.
Wheat beer styles such as Belgian witbier and German weiss have a
natural affinity with warm weather. The best ones are light and
refreshing without being watery, have a bit more carbonation than the
norm and most important, pack delicious flavors.
Witbiers are generally known for their fruit aroma and flavor qualities
from the addition of coriander and dried curacao orange peel. There
are usually more spices added to the mix that are closely guarded
secrets. Blanche de Bruxelles is a nice example of the style that is
about 40% wheat, which adds extra carbonation and a hazy body.
This is an unfiltered beer, so the cloudiness is natural.
One good example is a beer that several states banned in the 1990s
when its name was Manneken Pis ("Little Man Piss") and its label
depicted the famous Brussels fountain of the same name. The brewery
changed the name of the beer and was able to keep the image on the
label. If you try this beer expect some biscuity malt followed by lemon
and orange notes in the nose. The color is pale straw topped with a
rocky white head. The malt profile is very nice -- accenting the flavor
of light malts is something not commonly found most U.S. brews.
Despite a refreshing carbonation, the smoothness of a really good
witbier should still be impressive. The best of the style are quenching
without being prickly, and the malt and spice flavors shine. In general
the finish is clean with a touch of lemon tartness.
As for US made summer beers you can't go wrong with Harpoon
Summer. In fact this is one I actually look for in a can for easy chilling.
The beer itself is Kolsch style. It's an ale, but it has the characteristics of
the lagers that make for such light drinking in warmer months. It pours
nice and golden with a clean taste that hints of lemon, but the citrus
21st Amendment's Bitter American is an American style pale ale that will
quench your thirst time and again. And you can drink a few since it's
only 4.4% ABV. The taste is clean with some bready malt up front
followed by with green pine hops. Orange and grapefruit notes come
out in the middle and lead to a crisp refreshing finish.
Dogfish Head Festina Peche is in the style of Berliner Weisse, a tangy,
acidic brew made with lactic yeasts that generally clocks in at a
session-level ABV. Dogfish makes theirs with peaches, but all sugar is
gone by the time the delightful beer hits your lips, giving you the
summery fruitiness without any cloying sweetness.
Lancaster Brewing's Summer Kolsch is another great refresher and can
usually be had a more modest price than the others I've mentioned.
This beer features a good lime bitterness and crispness that blend into
a s subdued drying finish.
Now I admit that these summer beers are not on my top list of all-tme
great beers and that I'd be at a loss without heavy porters and stouts
year round. After all, it's air conditioned in the pub. But sometimes
refreshment value trumps complexity. That's not to say that the
beers I've recommended can't hold the attention of the most
discerning of beer drinker. They can and will. Just judge them for
One of the great things about beer is the chance to enjoy different
flavors that correspond to the changes in the year. Which is
something the wine lovers can't really say!
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