Summertime Suds: Your Quintessential Guide to Craft Beer in the Sun
A cold beer on a summer day is like bacon and eggs. You can certainly have one without the other, but most of us can agree that each is better served by the presence of their counterpart. It’s sort of a yin and yang situation.
That said, given the sheer variety of beer out there today, it’s easier than it’s ever been to screw up that yin and yang, however simple it seems. For instance, you don’t really want to be the person to show up to the Fourth of July cookout with a 13.5% ABV Russian Imperial Stout bomber to share. No, save that for the colder months. This time of year, you’re going to want to bring something a bit lighter.
But don’t take our word for it. Take it from Phil DiCarlo, co-owner of the newly opened Craft Beer Cellar Fenway, one of the latest in a growing line of CBC retail shops selling an impressively curated portfolio of craft beer from around the world. With the temperatures now rising and the days getting longer, Phil was kind enough to give us the skinny on summertime suds.
Here’s his warm weather beer guide.
Session (IPA) – Left of the Dial, 4.3% ABV
Notch Brewing, Salem, MA
While breweries all over the country of late have jumped on the session beer bandwagon, Notch has made the style its core mission statement. And no beer in Notch’s impeccable portfolio quite exemplifies the style’s potential quite like its Left of the Dial IPA. Look forward to a delicious hop forward IPA absent the debilitating alcohol content that makes other IPAs less conducive to summer drinking. (Oh, and at 140 calories per, it’s not a bad beer to consider as you hone your beach body).
Phil says, “There are lots of great session beers across lots of different styles, but few breweries hit all the marks like Notch Brewing with their Session Saison, Session Pilsner and Left of the Dial Session IPA. Jack’s Abby Calyptra is another easy-drinking session IPL and a great summer choice.”
Wheat – Allagash White, 5.1% ABV
Allagash Brewing, Portland, ME
Let’s be real. If you’re reading this, you’re probably well familiar with Allagash’s famed White. Nonetheless, this legendary Belgian is worth a revisit in the summer months. Spiced with coriander and Curaçao orange peel, White is a well-balanced drink that will surprise craft beer newcomers and please longtime drinkers alike.
Phil says, “Wheat beers are great beers for when the weather gets hot. These beers are easy drinking because of their tangy juiciness and hint of spice.”
Fruit Beer – Camp Wannamango, 5% ABV
Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA
This summer, tango with mango. Harpoon’s fruity summer seasonal, Camp Wannamango, is a bright and fruity pale ale that balances the taste of its namesake fruit with malty sweetness and a light hop bitterness (at 22 IBUs, it’s just bitter enough to let you know you’re still drinking a pale ale, but subdued enough to make sure you don’t forget what time of year it is).
Phil says, “There has been a recent explosion of fruit beers on the market. Hugely popular Harpoon Camp Wannamango is a great summer drinking beer. Ommegang Rosetta is a cherry-flavored sour beer and was the recent Gold Medal winner of the World Beer Cup for Best Belgian Style Fruit Beer.”
Gose – Lost Nation Gose, 4.5% ABV
Lost Nation Brewing, Morristown, VT
The gose (pronounced goes-uh) style is enjoying a bit of a renaissance. While the German-born style was nearly extinct three decades ago, it has since come back with a vengeance. And good thing, as Lost Nation’s take on the style is one to seek out. Tart and citrusy with hints of salt, this dry and palpable offering is perfect for warm weather consumption.
Phil says, “Summer is a great time to drink Gose. These beers have a predominantly lemon tartness and strong saltiness. They are fairly low in ABV, in the 4-5% range. Some great Gose options are Sour Bikini (is there a better summer themed beer name?), Lost Nation Gose, and Boulevard’s Hibiscus Gose.”
Radler/Shandy – Del’s Shandy, 4.7% ABV
Narragansett Brewing, Providence, RI
Narragansett is most well known around these parts for its lager, which was famously enjoyed by the grizzled shark hunter, Quint, in the classic Spielberg film, Jaws. But this summer, be sure rotate Del’s Shandy, one of the brewery’s newer offerings, into your drinking repertoire. Brewed with Del’s frozen lemonade of Rhode Island, this shandy (a beer cocktail of sorts) is fast becoming a cooler necessity in New England each summer.
Phil says, “Some really great options for radlers are Stiegl Radler, Lemon Ginger Radler from Boulevard, Victory Cage Radler or Schofferhofer Grapefruit. Blueberry Shandy by Ipswich and Narragansett’s Del’s Shandy are two great Shandy options.”
Bonus: Cider, for the beer averse – Summer Blend
Downeast Cider House, Boston, MA
Diversity is important. So in between beers this summer, be sure to add some cider into the mix. Downeast’s Summer Blend is made with freshly pressed apple cider, lemon juice and ginger root, which combine to make a 4.5% ABV concoction designed for, in Downeast’s own words, “the beach, golf bag, lawnmower, picnic table and dugout.”
Phil says, “There are so many great choices in ciders depending on your style preference. Downeast makes a great Summer Blend Cider that has hints of ginger. If you like a naturally sweet cider, then Rekorderlig has great options like their Passion Fruit Cider. Far from the Tree is following up their hugely popular Strawberry Basil Cider with a Mango Jalapeño Cider in early summer.”
For more, be sure to check in with Craft Beer Cellar this summer, as the store will be hosting a number of tastings from great local and national companies alike:
Thursday, June 2 at 5:00 p.m. Two Roads Brewing
Friday, June 3 at 5:00 p.m. New Holland Brewing
Saturday, June 4 at 2:00 p.m. Goose Island Brewing
Sunday, June 5 at 4:30 p.m. Backlash Brewing
Friday, June 10 at 5:00 p.m. Far From the Tree Cider
Tuesday, June 14 at 5:00 p.m. Nauti Hard Seltzer
Thursday, June 16 at 5:00 p.m. Victory Brewing
Friday, June 17 at 5:00 p.m. Lord Hobo Brewing