My 3 Go-To Summer Beers

My 3 Go-To Summer Beers

“Summertime and the living is easy.”  Love me some summertime.  Love me some Gershwin.

When the temps hit a certain point, what I’m looking for in a beer shifts.  For example, that heavy bourbon barrel stout somehow doesn’t quite go with bright, sunny days and warm, humid nights.  Still a great beer and I will drink it again when there is frost on the pumpkin, but not come June, July, and August.

So, where does my tastes wander?  Too many places to include in one blog post, but I’ll start with three beer styles that have become summer rituals for me:  Hefeweizens, Kolsches, and Pilsners.  [Disclaimer:  I’ve been known to drink these styles year round but I definitely drink them more often and more consistently during the warmer weather months.]

Hefeweizens

Hefes are south German wheat beers [weissbier].  As a rule the wheat grain bill is at least 50% and usually higher.  The yeast used in hefes often produce a banana and clove sensation on the tongue.  Sometimes the sensation is that of bubblegum.  Sometimes, depending of course on the hefe, I catch a hint of green apple.  Hefe, by the way, is a German prefix that means “with yeast”.

Hefes are not known for hoppy bitterness.  The best hefes should be unfiltered which results in a nice cloudy appearance in the glass.  Some bartenders will put a wedge of lemon or orange on your glass to take the edge off the yeastiness which makes me wonder why you ordered a hefe in the first place.  The lemon or orange wedge, in my opinion, takes away from the beer’s taste.  As for the ABV, most hefes are wonderfully sessional coming in on average around 5%.

Kolsches

Kolsch was first brewed in Cologne, Germany, thus the name.  Kolsch used to be a more obscure beer style.  Thankfully, kolsch is showing up in more and more brewery line ups.

Kolsches are light to medium-bodied.  As for hoppy bitterness there is a range with most coming somewhere in the middle, not too malty and not too hoppy.  The mouthfeel will be dry.  Some beer writers refer to kolsches as vinous, that is “grapey”.  You can be the judge.

Pilsners

And now, pilsners. First brewed in the Austrian Empire’s province of Bohemia, pilsner is THE most popular lager in Germany and perhaps the world.

In the glass, pilsners will be very light in color.  Straw is one color descriptor.  Golden is another.  Pilsners are hopped with Noble hops.  Noble hops refer to the four hops originally grown in Central Europe — Terrnanger, Spalt, Hallertauer, and Saaz.  Noble hops produce an herbal or floral aroma and flavor.  It’s not unusual to experience a citrus like zest when drinking a pils.  This is one of the things that make it such a nice warm weather beer.

So, who does hefes, kolsches, and pils well?

I thought you would never ask.  A lot of breweries do, but I’m going to mention only three.

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier is rated consistently as the finest hefe on the market.  It’s good and I mean really good.  It looks, smells, and tastes the way a hefe should look, smell, and taste.  White foam.  Clove and banana aroma.  Yeasty on the tongue.  Did I say it was good?

A kolsch that is getting a lot of attention of late is Trillium Brewing’s [Boston] Sprang.  Sprang is brewed and available only in the spring and, like all of Trillium’s brews is currently only available in the Boston area.  So, if you have a New England beer mule, message me.  Trillium has plans to expand their distribution.  Here’s hoping they come our way.

Sprang is cool-fermented and dosed with Nelson Sauvin, a very unique New Zealand hop.  The lower fermentation temps slows the yeast’s metabolism which keeps the fruity phenols and spicy esters in check.  The Sauvin Nelson hops provide a flavor profile that includes concord grape, mango, and herbaceous white wine.  The other two hops are Citra and Sterling.  As you would expect the Citra provides the tropical fruit aroma that sings summer.

It was great seeing everyone at the fourth annual Hop Blossom Festival.  Thanks for coming out and supporting GooDogz and the local SPCA.

Cheers.

-Dan McCoig

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