Food & Drink » Winesipper

Brew for Summer

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Forget May flowers. With this roller coaster weather ride we've been on--one week in the 90s, the next seeing high temps struggling to push pass 60 with nighttime lows hovering near freezing--it's hard to predict which plants will survive. Same goes for picking the right beer. But since the summer brews are here, and they're forecasting highs in the 90s the week this comes out, it's time for something light and refreshing.

While it doesn't have the word "summer" on the label, most breweries offer up a special release for the season. Many are lighter-styled ales with a crisp hit of hops, and most are eminently quaffable, if a little less than memorable. Sierra Nevada, best known for their Pale Ale, bucks the trend a bit by bottling a true pilsner-style lager, exactly what I crave as the warmer weather settles in. Their Summerfest is a citrusy mouthful with flavors beautifully balanced between creamy malt and lightly bitter hops. A hit of toasted grain bolsters the finish that is otherwise refreshingly crisp and clean.

Hefeweizen is another choice that just screams summer. On the domestic side, it's hard to beat Widmer's take on this intentionally hazy beer, and it's especially good on tap. But if you're looking for something new and bit more exotic, Kapuziner Bavarian Hefeweizen is a worthy contender. A slightly spicy take on the style, with hints of clove backing the fresh citrus and tropical fruit flavors, this is a delightfully different hefe. Should be a great match with Thai or other Asian cuisine.

While we have no shortage of great breweries out West, it's nice to see some craft selections from east of the Mississippi make their way into our market. Michigan's Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales specializes in Belgian-style brews offered in champagne-sized bottles. That seems particularly appropriate for their Bam Bière Farmhouse Ale with its explosion of long lasting, oh-so-tiny champagne-like bubbles, which create a thick and creamy head that looks something like stiffly whipped egg whites. Dry hopping makes for a very aromatic nose, and the spicy malt flavors are rich but not overwhelming with that big hit of citrus I look for in a summer quencher. Bottle-conditioned brews this good don't come cheap. Expect to pay about nine bucks a bottle, but if your budget allows, this one is worth it. :