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Craft Beer To Beat the Heat

Lemonade and summer go hand in hand, just like the big lemon shaped kiosks and the state fair. Who doesn’t love a refreshingly tart drink during the dog days of summer? Now’s a good time as any to savor and explore sour beers and tart cocktails.

One of the most common beer concoctions you’ll see on the shelves is the shandy, which is typically a low-alcohol beer mixed with lemonade. Try Dundee’s or Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, as well as Traveler Curious Traveler Shandy and Sam Adams Porch Rocker. Even better, make a fresh shandy yourself: mix 1 cup sugar, 3 cups water, 1 cup fresh lemon juice, 2 fresh mint sprigs, and chilled beer of your choice. Make it and you’ll be hooked all summer long.

Not a lemon fan? There are other tart beers out there that are sure to please!

European brewers have been making sour beers for centuries, brewing in similar fashion to brewing’s beginnings thousands of years ago. German Berliner Weisse, Belgian Oud Bruin, Flanders Red, and Belgian Lambics are different types of sour beers worth investigating. Particularly interesting is the lambic, a beer so unique that it cannot be made anywhere else but in a region west of Brussels. Lambics are fermented by the action of naturally occurring, wild, airborne yeasts of the region, usually in wooden barrels. This spontaneous fermentation process contributes to the taste characteristics of the beer. While these beers do contain hops, they’re used primarily for their preservative characteristics and not hoppy tasting at all. Some lambics are blended with fruits such as raspberries and cherries to give it a sweet-sour profile. Another lambic, known as gueze, is a blend of old and new lambics that are bottled and aged for two to three years. This process gives the gueze a sharper sourness than that of an unblended lambic. Since they are rare and fermentation takes longer, some varieties may be harder to find and a bit more expensive than other beer choices. The pursuit and price is worth it, as these beers have a wonderful tart flavor that works well with cheeses, fruit, salads and dessert. A popular fruit lambic readily available here is Lindeman’s Framboise, a raspberry lambic that is fruity and tart.

American craft brewers experiment and interpret their own styles of sour in a number of ways. They experiment with a variety of yeasts, fruits and fermenting in steel and oak barrels. The result is a unique, American crafted sour. Some of these beers might be harder to identify if you don’t know what to look for, so you might have to do some investigative work. A great resource for looking up beer styles and breweries is www.beeradvocate.com. Some nice sours to try are Rosetta from Ommegang, a Flanders Oud Bruin, Southern Tier’s Cherry Gose, and Brooklyn’s Bel Air Sour to name a few. Once you’ve had a taste of these tart treats, you’ll be ready to pucker up! Cheers!

Lambic beer is so unique that it cannot be made anywhere else but in a region west of Brussels.

Gloria Rakowsky