Summer is a great season. It’s warm out, you can sit outside and grill, you can go on your rich friend’s boat (because owning a boat is for suckers, have you seen how much it costs to refuel a boat?), and you can watch crappy baseball outside of your home market thanks to MLB.tv.
It truly is a wonderful time, and after the winter we had (are still having), places like Chicago and New York really start to feel like the vibrant, world-class cities they are during summer. People are out and about, especially weirdo crust-punk kids (‘sup Wicker Park), and just straight enjoying life.
With all the positive things that summer brings, summer beer seasonals have been a real downer in the past. Many breweries eschewed putting out an inventive or even mildly tasty summer brew, instead opting to focus on fall and winter seasonals. IMHO, that shit’s weak. Summer is the perfect time to drink beer, and as loyal beer consumers, we should be rewarded for dealing with winter every year with awesome, tasty, mindbending summer beers. NO, YOU’RE BEING UNREASONABLE!
While I don’t think we’ve reached the point of summer beers dominating the top of Beer Advocate’s rankings (imperial barrel-aged strawberry wheat anyone?), we are definitely getting closer to summer being allowed to sit at the grownups table when talking about seasonal beers. Here are a couple you should check out before, during, and after you watch the Phillies play this summer.
Bell’s Oberon: Here in the midwest, it can’t officially be summer until you’ve had your first glass of Oberon. Orange slice is optional, but I’ll think you’re a huge disappointment if you choose to affix one to your glass…and if we don’t have the approval and acceptance of strangers on the Internet, what do we really have? As a noted future midwestern beer blogger, I took the tour of Bell’s facilities in Kalamazoo, Michigan a few years ago. It is an extremely impressive facility, and one of the interesting factoids I learned was that Bell’s brews Oberon to coincide with baseball season. The reason that it’s available in Arizona, Florida, and Puerto Rico year-round is due to the fact that you can always play baseball there. It’s also available year-round in parts of southern Alabama because Roll Tide, that’s why. Oberon is a hazy orange beer, with hints of wheat and orange peel. As of this year it comes in cans too, so you can take it to the pool and throw it at unruly children (because bottles would get broken glass everywhere, idiot).
21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat: For my birthday (August 1 for those planning ahead on presents) a few years ago, I wanted to see the Phillies play in person. Luckily for me, they were in San Francisco that weekend and my lovely fiancee, nee girlfriend, gamely indulged me. We boarded a plane west and imbibed some of the finest beers and wines the west coast had to offer. On the day of the game, we stopped by their brewpub, mere blocks away from the ballpark and tried their summer seasonal.
It happened to be one of the finest summer beers I had ever tried. At the brewpub, they put a big ass-slice of watermelon on it, and despite my prior claims about fruit on beer glasses THIS WAS AMAZING! It was delicious dipped in the beer, and it was delicious by itself. I guess I just like watermelon more than orange. The beer pours a light straw color and tastes solidly of watermelon. The haterz on Beer Advocate will tell you this beer needs more hops (they say this about everything, the idiots) but this is not true. This fruity wheat beer is perfect the way it is. And if you needed to ask, the Phillies lost the game to the Giants. I did get this awesome t-shirt from a panda though, so, not all bad.
Dogfish Head Festina Peche: This is a strange beer. When I was first getting into craft beer right after college, I honestly tried beers based on name and labeling. I was not, nor am I now, a smart man. The first time I tried this (because I had heard of Dogfish Head, and no other reason) I did not like it at all. There is no hop presence, it is kind of sour, and there is a good amount of peach flavor to it. These were not things I was accustomed to as a novice craft beer drinker. Trying it again many years later, I realized how wrong I was. This Berliner Weissebier is excellent for a relaxing night on your back porch. The sourness that I originally thought was a defect, turned into my favorite aspect of the beer. It is slightly tart, and the peach flavor is definitely noticeable without being overpowering. If you’re looking to try something different, or get into sour beers (which I highly recommend), give this beer a try. Or don’t, I don’t care what you do.
Here are a couple more summer beers to try during your next BBQ or indoor video game session (I’m not going to judge you if you like A/C better): Victory Summer Love (which I happen to be drinking right now, don’t mind the spelling errors!), Point Nude Beach, Goose Island Endless IPA (RIP Goose Island Summertime), and Hinterland Cherry Wheat.
Really, as long as you aren’t drinking Summer Shandy, we’re cool.