Recently, I made mistake of claiming that "summer is here" only to be corrected by my
know-it-all well-intentioned co-worker, "Well actually, this year summer doesn't officially begin until June 20th" to which I replied, " Sierra Nevada's Summerfest Ale is out; thus, summer is here". You see, while some may rely on almanacs, astronomy and NASA drawings (see fig.1) to determine when seasons begin and end, true boozers utilize a more practical and far more sophisticated method to gauge the seasons --beer (see fig.2).
Each year, towards the end of May, rich vanilla stouts and heavy porters give way to light,
crisp lagers and ales flavored with citrus, berries and rainbows. A good summer beer is typically crisp and light. Hefewiezens, pilsners and pale ales are popular not only for their flavor and light to medium body but also because you can drink them like it's your job whether poolside or at the beach.
Fortunately, with the increasing number of new craft beer brewers emerging each year, the number of summer beer options are endless. I stopped by Fort Lauderdale's Riverside Market, recently voted in New Times' Best Of Edition for the "Best Beer Selection",
to get schooled on summer brew by owner Julian Siegel and Aja, a
cheerful summer beer enthusiast and devoted member of the Riverside
crew. Put on your beer goggles (like you ever take them off) and check out the list of this year's summer beer stand-outs.
Magic Hat's Pistil- A potent, earthy summer ale brewed with dandelion flowers.
Peak Organic Brewing Company's Summer Session Ale- A bold yet refreshing grassy wheat ale with citrus top notes.
Brooklyn Lager's Summer Ale- A fresh, zippy lager that you can drink all day--responsibly, of course.
Virgin Island's Island Summer Ale- Biting yet refreshing, this summer ale is an excellent option if you're an IPA fan looking to trade up for the summer.
Sierra Nevada's Kellerweis- Sunny and light, this beer was best described by a friend as "the spirit of the Coppertone baby captured in liquid form".
Shiner's Ruby Redbird- Shiner's refreshing grapefruit and ginger lager is one of Riverside's bestsellers.
Magic Hat's Elder Betty- Magic Hat's cloudy, "weiss-style" elderberry ale is perfect for those looking a medium-bodied beer and would make a fine addition to any barbecue.
Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy- I'm predicting that Leinenkugel's tangy shandy, a light Weiss beer with lemonade will become the unofficial beer of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Dogfish Head's Tweason'ale- This popular gluten-free, sorghum beer with fresh strawberries and honey is a new summer favorite for both the gluten-intolerant and gluten-indulgent.
Virgin Island's Mango IPA - If you're an IPA fan, this unusual tropical mango beer is a terrific choice. It's slightly heavier than the other summer beer options but it's a nice compromise if you just can't give up that bitter, hoppy flavor.
This season, summer beer options abound. Which one will be your favorite?
Already have a favorite summer beer? Add it to the list in the comments section. Cheers!