By Adam Patrick Kindilien
Finally, it’s summer. Just yesterday I was shoveling a foot of snow off of my porch. Now I’m flip-flopping around in shorts and a T-shirt. All of this is enough to make me want to drink a beer — thankfully, I work in the restaurant business, so I have access to basically every beer, wine and spirit under the sun. If you don’t, I’m going to let you in on some of the secrets to good drinking this summer.
We all know the beers that will dominate the shelves and coolers of your corner liquor store this summer. Sam Adams Summer, Brooklyn Summer, Harpoon Summer, Narragansett Summer — noticing a trend here? My goal is to educate you on a few warm-weather nuggets you can take to the bank, and share with your friends.
When you’re talking summer beer, there are a few requisites. Low ABV (alcohol by volume, or the percentage of booze in your beer); not terribly hoppy and with a low IBU (international bitterness units — look for an IBU under 30); and a good balance between fruity esters, yeastiness (a bread-like quality), sweetness, mouthfeel and bitterness. With that in mind, here are a few to enjoy this summer.
Captain Lawrence Sun Block
(Elmsford, NY) (5.0% ABV) Something is different this year with the recipe — which, for me, has been hit or miss. The lemony Sorachi Ace hop shines through in a big way, pulling with it pineapple and tangerine tartness. The requisite Columbus and Cascade hops are there, but muted. The beer is dry-hopped (the process of adding hops to the beer after fermentation for aroma only) and unfiltered, complementing raw oysters and seafood ridiculously well. While it’s the most bitter of the bunch, the fruitiness stands out and helps with balance. I also find salty foods pair nicely here.
(Cooperstown, NY) (5.2% ABV) This is one badass beer. The Belgian version of the German hefeweizen is called Witbier, (translates to white beer), and Ommegang Witte is my favorite American-made witbier, by far. You’ll have to travel four hours north of Manhattan to check out their brewery, but it’s nestled in historic Cooperstown, so make a day of it and check out the Baseball Hall of Fame. Witte is exactly what a Belgian wheat beer should be: unfiltered, with notes of lemon, citrus, cloves, wheat and yeast. It finishes with some banana, pineapple and grassy flavors and is just sweet enough without being cloying. And I promise that Ommegang didn’t pay me to say this — although they can, if they’d like.
New England Brewing Scrumtrulescent Saison
(Woodbridge, CT) (5.6% ABV) Mildly sweet and not too dry, crisp notes of black pepper spiciness are balanced with lemon peel and a hint of hops. Spiced apple and grapefruit definitely shine through. This beer has an adequate carbonation and holds up well as it warms up (which tends to happen by the ocean, pool or the inside of your cooler). Super balanced and easy to drink.
Two Roads Brewing Via Cordis
(Stratford, CT) (5.2% ABV) This Abbey-Style Blonde is a joint collaboration be-
tween the brewers and some beer-loving professors from Sacred Heart University’s biology department. Using a proprietary yeast strain from an actual Belgian monastic brewery, they’ve developed a great summer sipper. There’s a cool balance between the esters (fruity flavors and smells) and phenolic compounds (spice, earthiness), as well as sweet and bitter notes. The taste here is deeper than you might expect from a blonde ale, while still clocking in at a sessionable alcohol level.
SixPoint Brewery Apollo
(Brooklyn, NY) (5.2% ABV) The Apollo is a kristallweizen, meaning a hefeweizen that is filtered and clarified. Other than that, it drinks like what you would expect an American-style hefeweizen to drink like. Banana, clove and coriander dominate, but if you stick around long enough you’ll get tropical fruit, bubble gum and almost a rum flavor. There’s no detectable hop bitterness at all, and while the beer is slightly thin (it won’t leave a lot of lacing on your glass, or the “head” that remains after a few sips) it’s super easy to drink. For some reason, this beer gets a bad rap, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one. This is not a beer for the beer geeks; this is the one you sip on the beach right before jogging over to the volleyball game.
The Bronx Brewery Summer Pale Ale
(Bronx, NY) (5.2% ABV) This American pale ale, which hit the shelves in June this summer, is as straightforward as summer beers come. Light, grassy, mildly yeasty, lightly bitter, this should be your standard go-to, and it fits well within the Bronx Brewery’s style of being accessible and to the point.
So there you have it, friends. Have a great summer and happy sipping! Cheers!