It has been a wacky spring in Boise. But if you've lived here long enough, you know there is no such thing as a normal valley weather pattern. Highs in the 80s one week; highs in the 50s the next. Though it's been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, the weather is warming and the real heat is around the corner. And just to prove it, the first few seasonal summer brews have already hit the shelf. All three featured this week are lagers: a pounder in a can from Colorado, a German-style entry from Oregon and a perennial favorite from California. All three weigh in at a heat-friendly 5 percent alcohol.
New Belgium Shift Pale Lager
This beer pours a light gold with a thin white head and offers soft wheat, herb and hop aromas with fruity touches of earth. Light bodied in the mouth, this brew has a definite suppleness up front that is nicely balanced by crisp citrus. Fruit-laced malt plays against drying hops on the finish with a touch of lemon zest.
Ninkasi Helles Belles
A one-finger egg-white head tops this pale, straw-colored beer. The aromas are a floral mix of fresh grass, cracker and subtle fruit. An homage to the German lagers brewed in Bavaria, this beer's flavors revolve around lightly bitter, heady hops, backed by creamy pale malt and smooth, just-sour fruit. This beer is refreshingly dry and delicious on the finish.
Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager
This brew pours a slightly hazy, faint yellow in the glass with a thick head that collapses quickly, leaving a nice lacing. The aromas are fairly subdued, with touches of herb, lemon, grass, biscuit and subtle hops. This California classic offers a mouthful of flavors, including deftly balanced malt, light hops and refreshing citrus.