No better season for a cold one

W hile it may not be summer quite yet, summer beer is already hitting the shelves. You are undoubtedly still working your way through all those remaining winter and spring beers crowding your fridge, but there’s no time like the present to just ignore those leftover fridge turds and start sampling all that new, sexy […]

Summer’s beers


“SelfieBrau Berliner Weisse: you can really taste the Lactobacillus!”

By Tom Morgan

While it may not be summer quite yet, summer beer is already hitting the shelves. You are undoubtedly still working your way through all those remaining winter and spring beers crowding your fridge, but there’s no time like the present to just ignore those leftover fridge turds and start sampling all that new, sexy summer beer that is coming out. After all, at some point, you’re going to need to showcase some solid beer selections for that summer cookout or long lazy weekend get-together with friends that you’re already planning. So let’s get your summer beer knowledge sorted out and your summer beer game up to par. Because mixed six-packs of off-season and random leftover beers are for fall parties when no one is paying attention, not prime time summer events. Summer means it is time to bring the A game. With that in mind, here are some summer beers that will properly impress your friends.

First up are IPAs and IPA varietals. It wouldn’t be summer without a gratuitous overuse of hops in one form or another. I know that sounds sarcastic, but it’s not. Besides cloudy Northeast IPAs with tons of citrus and juice flavor and very low bitterness, there are a fair number of IPAs with actual fruit in them, as well as session IPAs. Basically, there is an IPA in one form or another for every palate out there. While bitterness was previously the definitive norm of the style, now hop flavor and aroma are performing the lion’s share of the work. Local NEIPA favorites include Yellow Springs Brewery’s Boatshow, and pretty much any of the numerous NEIPA offerings from Cincinnati’s Listermann Brewing Company. Gratuitous overuse of hops indeed. For fruited IPAs, classic examples include Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin and Dogfish Head Aprihop, but the fruit du jour of this year’s summer IPA bonanza is still up in the air. Mango, peach, blood orange, and grapefruit are always usual suspects, but here’s hoping for a fruit wildcard. Finally, session IPAs are your basic IPA meets lawnmower beer combination. I’m in love with Stone Go To IPA, but it is often harder to find on the regular. My consolation comes in the form of either Oskar Blues Pinner, which is dank and dreamy, or Founders All Day IPA. I’ve recently been grooving on Lord Hobo’s Session IPA, but that is in part because I like saying “Lord Hobo.”

Next up are Goses, Berliner Weisses, and Radlers. I’ve put these three together because all three are quintessentially summer-themed: bright, tart, crisp, and crushable, in part via the lower ABV found in most of them. While Goses and Berliner Weisses are sour beers via the inclusion of Lactobacillus, Radlers often have similar flavors through the use of citrus; traditional Radlers were a mixture of beer and lemonade. The main distinction between Goses and Berliner Weisses is the inclusion of salt in Goses, which mimics the water chemistry of the area in Germany where this style emerged. I understand that the idea of salt in a beer probably sounds weird to most of you. But try one. You’ll get over that Mr. Yuk face quick. Trust me. There is a reason the style is one of the darlings of craft beer right now. As with IPAs, there are numerous fruited versions of both Goses and Berliner Weisses that use fruit flavors and tartness to create a beer that goes down easy like Sunday morning.

Currently, Goses are ubiquitous in the world of craft beer. To use a time worn phrase, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting at least a half dozen of them. If I had to recommend a couple, I would start with Anderson Valley, both their regular and blood orange versions, and Victory’s Kirsch Gose with sour cherries, which is equally dreamy. But I’d also go sort through several of them yourselves. You’ll be happy to did. In regards to Berliner Weisses, classic examples worth trying include Bell’s Oarsman, which can be found in a can, as well as Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche, a version that includes peaches. A good Radler is a bit harder to come by. There is the classic Stiegl Radler, and Boulevard had a couple different versions last year, including Cranberry Orange and Ginger Lemon.

Finally, we’ve got any beer with “summer” in the name. In case you hadn’t noticed, American craft brewing prides itself in flaunting conventions and ignoring or breaking traditions, enough so that articles like this one often appear rather ridiculous given the number of beer styles that include “summer” in their name. You know, something about shaking up the status quo and being insouciant. Can I get an amen? No? Anyway, this particular designation covers all the rest of the possibilities, and while it may feel rather lazy on my part, you should experiment widely and broadly with these types of beers. I don’t know which of these beers I will end up liking, but I will give a shout out to Brooklyn Summer Ale, which is plain, simple, and delicious. And Sierra Nevada Summerfest Czech-style Pilsner deserves some love, as does Victory’s Summer Love, which is refreshing and unpretentious.

I hope this helps get your summer beer game rolling. Get out there, get sampling, and get your summer on!

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Reach DCP freelance writer Tom Morgan at TomMorgan@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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