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Summer Suds

Summer: the brief weeks of sun, fun, BBQs and beer. We all strive for a balance of enjoying the heat while keeping cool by going to the beach, pool or by staying indoors with the A/C blasting.

The best summer beers that quench my thirst and keep me cool are goses. These beers are easygoing, tasty and refreshing.

We eat more ice cream, drink more lemonade, and sip more beer. The thirstier we get, the more we crave a cool one. Unfortunately, those days at the beach, a BBQ or on the back deck can also mean cold beer gone warm quickly. While it might be tempting to drink beer freezing cold, what some beer drinkers fail to realize is that beer isn’t supposed to be served out of a frosted mug, nor should there be ice cubes (in a plastic bag!) floating in a pitcher. Drinking beer at a very cold temperature takes away flavor. I suppose for some not so good beers, that’s the point. Craft beer however, is made to be enjoyed –  from the hop aromas to the caramel maltiness and hints of other scents and flavors. Brewers carefully craft their beers with a blend of malted barley (or wheat, rice, sorghum, etc.), hops, yeast, and water so that you enjoy their flavors to the fullest.

Across the pond, as friends who have gone to the U.K. have told me, beer is served at a warmer temperature than the American taste buds are accustomed to. While it may seem warm, the correct serving temperature depends on the particular style of beer served (much like wine). For instance, the serving suggestion of porters and stouts is 50° to 55° F, thus more commonly consumed during the colder months. India pale ales, bitters and brown ales are also best served at warmer temperatures compared to hefeweizens, lagers and pilsners, best served from 39° to 45° F. How cold is too cold? While I don’t expect you to carry a thermometer with you when you drink, if your beer is so cold it’s practically flavorless, my best guess is it’s probably below 39° F.

The best summer beers that quench my thirst and keep me cool are goses (e.g. Sierra Nevada Otra Vez), sours (Dogfish Head Sea Quench Ale), Berliner weisses (Ithaca’s Cayuga Cruiser), fruit beers (Middle Ages’ Apricot Ale) pilsners (Lagunitas’ PILS), and Mexican type lagers (Grupo Modelo’s Modelo Especial, Negra Modelo, Oskar Blues Beerito). These beers are easygoing, tasty and refreshing – perfect for the summer. While IPAs can pack a hefty hoppy punch, there are others that are delightfully smoother with a wonderful hop presence – such is the case with Founder’s All Day IPA and Stone’s Go To IPA.

If you still crave something very cold to drink, why not choose an iced tea, water with lemon, or a slushy? Once you’ve cooled down enough, then drink a beer. Let your mood guide you to what kind of beer you want to drink; then, quench your thirst and give your taste buds a treat to the wonderful craft. Beer is always a great and satisfying choice this summer, so ditch that frozen mug and drink craft beer the way it’s meant to be! Cheers!

Gloria Rakowsky