The old saw is that it isn't the heat, it's the humidity. Well in Boise, it is the heat and now that July has arrived, 90-plus-degree days are the norm. To make things worse, thunderclouds typically roll in late afternoon, threatening rain but seldom providing that relief, holding the heat in so that the overnight low temp hovers near 80. Time to stock up on more summer brews while offering a word of thanks to William Haviland Carrier, the clever fellow who came up with air conditioning.
Two worthy summer ales come from two of the bigger players in the world of craft brewing. Don't let their size put you offSamuel Adams Summer Ale from the mega-micro Boston Brewing Company is a light and lovely quaff with smooth wheat and oaty malt flavors backed by the barest touch of spice. The hops are mild and the finish clean with a light kiss of citrus. Serve very cold as the perfect reward for surviving another day of heat.
A national distribution deal with Budweiser and the opening of a third location pushed Washington's Red Hook Brewery up a notch from micro status, but they are definitely on track with their Sunrye Summer Ale. Lightly sweet malt, a nice crisp bite of hops, exceptional balance and a clean crisp finish make this a completely refreshing ale.
Full Sail Brewing in Hood River, Oregon, originally offered their IPA on a seasonal basis. It's now a part of the core group, but this India Pale Ale makes a beautiful match to the summer heat. It has the big hop profile you expect from an IPA but without the mouth puckering bitterness. The malt component is smooth and creamythe finish is long and silky. A light touch of lemon helps make this one a real thirst quencher.
The slightly twisted folks at Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma, California, (read their labels) thought we all might need a bit more summer refreshment, so their #10 Crispy Summer Ale comes in a 22-ounce bottle. It's a bit heavier and more complex than most, with a spice component that is very Belgian in style. There's an understated malt sweetness and a nice hop attack that builds slowly. It's all backed by bright citrus and creamy spice on the finish--a nice change of pace that's surprisingly refreshing.