On the Rocks

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Summer Beers, Make Me Feel Fine

By Chef Rick Martin


I admit it.  I am the beer drinker that gravitates toward big, heavy, over-hopped, barrel-aged epiphanies while overlooking the sessionable summer selections.  I find it difficult to extrapolate on the character and nuances of this seasons beers.  I am one that can knock down a six pack of lawnmower beer du jour and somehow be able to turn off the usual sensory evaluation that takes over my brain and annoys those in company.  Rather than fill this space articulating the fine details of summer beer flavors as I do their burly cousins, I thought it better to discuss the hot-weather advantages of this welcoming family of beers.  


Carbonation

Usually when I talk about carbonation I’m harping on the extraordinary benefits beer has when paired with food.  Effervescence is perhaps the first trait your overheated brain notices in a summer beer.  Carbonation accentuates the refreshing profile of lighter beers by emphasizing minimal hops, de-emphasizing body, and by highlighting the quenching components of wheat malts and lager yeasts.  


Ales vs. Lagers

Many think all summer beers are light lagers.  Not so.  Lagers certainly possess what we like to consider the quintessential, easy- drinking characteristics due to their cool fermentation temperature and low residual sugar.  This and the fact that a disproportionate amount of beers sold in America are light lagers leads me to believe that refreshing qualities and lack of noticeable flavor are what most consumers look for in a summer brew.  Don’t forget the ales.  When asked, the most notable summer beer examples people would cite are ales.  Wheat beers, blondes and white beers are all ales.  


Shandys, Radlers and Wheat Beers

Drink them all and decide which is your summer treat.  I favor them all.  


Finally, Cans

The most amazing advancement in Craft Beer packaging over the last half century has been the return to the can.  Thank you brewers.  Cans not only preserve beer quality and fresh hop flavor, they provide those of us summer, outdoor frequenters an easier way to buy, pack, sneak and recycle our favorite craft beers.  Not only does a cooler hold more cans than bottles, cans get cold fast.    


Enjoy the summer whatever you may drink.  And don’t forget to stop by the store for Thursday beer tastings.