You wine drinkers have probably heard or used the phrase, “rosé all day.” Well, with the first official day of summer only hours away, I would like to offer up my own phrase: “summer ale all day”.
I credit Pete’s Brewing Company, one of the first craft beers to hit the market way back in 1986, with blazing the summer ale trail with Pete’s Summer Ale, which included a hint of lemon, unheard of and bordering on heretical for that time in beer history.
Fast forward to present day and summer ales are a nice annual accompaniment to the hot, hazy days of summer. They are session ales (lower alcohol) at heart but with a plethora of light, refreshing citrus compliments such as lemon, lime, and orange. A dedicated reader shared a recent article with me from our competitor, The New York Times, highlighting the movement where folks want lighter tasting beer and flavor. Summer ales fit that bill—and who doesn’t like flavor?
Two Roads Lil Juicy: Two Roads in Stratford, Conn., makes great beer. Their Lil’ Juicy (5.2% abv) is a fantastic session IPA with notes of tropical juicy fruits, orange, lemon-lime and florals. I highly recommend this beer for the aforementioned hot day at beach or backyard BBQ.
Their “big boy” version, Two Juicy, is an unfiltered double IPA that kicks all the juiciness up several notches and logs in at 8.2% abv.
Decadent Ales Citra: Also in my top percentile is Decadent’s Citra (4.8% abv), which is a really terrific full-flavored citrusy session ale (more on Decadent Ales later in the column).
Captain Lawrence Effortless Grapefruit IPA: You may be thinking, “Grapefruit in my beer? That is going too far.” But hold on, aside from grapefruit being chock full of vitamins, this beer strikes a perfect balance between the hops and grapefruit and clocks in at a sessiony 4.5% abv. I’d suggest kicking up your golf cooler several notches and bringing this delicious “swing juice” along for the next round.
Sam Adams Summer Ale 2019: For as long as I can remember, Sam Adams has always produced an annual satisfying summer ale with ingredients differing slightly from year to year. This year’s version is a Citrus Wheat Ale (5.3% abv) brewed with lime, orange and lemon peels, grains of paradise, and lemon puree. There’s a lot going on in there, and once I looked up what “grains of paradise” were, I agree that this mélange of spices giving off a peppery/citrus flavor works well in this brew.
(Also congrats to the recent merger announcement of Sam Adams and Dogfish Head breweries!)
Brooklyn Summer Ale 2019: Kudos also to Brooklyn Brewery for both longevity and quality. To me, their Brooklyn Lager (5.2% abv) is the gold standard of American Amber Lager. But I digress. Let’s get back to the beach with some of their Summer Ale (5% abv). If you’re just not into fruit in your beer but don’t want something watery, this is refreshing pale ale is the answer.
All of the above are available in cans, making them easy to pack into the car and schlep to the beach.
Field Trip – Decadent Brewing Taproom
My lovely soulmate and I took a field trip to Mamaroneck recently to visit the Decadent Brewing Taproom and it was awesome! Located on Hoyt Avenue and adjacent to Half Time Beverage, Decadent’s taproom has a cool, open, sleek stainless steel design that includes tall ceilings, a long bar, and plenty of seating.
How about the beer, you ask? I must admit to having a misguided preconceived notion about Decadent’s offerings. I’ve kept an eye on their beers for a while now but some of the names of their beers made me hesitant to jump in. Examples include “Peanut Butter French Toast with Banana and Strawberry” and “Orange Cream Pop.” I should not have judged a beer by its label!
I can vouch that the flavors in several of their beers are more subtle than expected, well balanced, and delicious! With almost 20 beers on tap to choose from, we worked through a nice variety in convenient and very cool 4-ounce tasting glasses. All the brews we had were excellent and it inspired me, as a homebrewer, of the endless possibilities for flavors that go well in beer.
But wait, there’s terrific food as well! The Hapa Food Truck has set up residence inside the taproom and delivers its unique blend of American Street Food with Traditional Asian Pacific Cuisine across a broad and appetizing menu that includes crispy cauliflower, many kinds of tacos, and quite possibly one of the best burgers I’ve ever had: The Hapa Burger: grass-fed beef, Vermont cheddar, pork belly, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato, house aioli, all on an optional gluten-free bun. (I’m keenly aware of the obvious irony of me washing down a gluten-free bun with beer...)
It was definitely an all-around fantastic outing. Visit Decadent at 139 Hoyt Ave., Mamaroneck (decadentales.com).
Brew & Co (532 Bedford Road, Bedford Hills, 914-666-3600, brewandcompany.com)
Brew & Co continues its program of Beer Enlightenment with these upcoming events:
• Nightmare Brewing Tap takeover, June 21, 5-10 p.m.
• Schlafly Tap takeover July 11, 5-10 p.m.
• Food trucks every Friday
• Cask night (TBD; stay tuned)
Vista Beer & Beverage (204 Oakridge Common, South Salem, 914-533-0100, vistabeerandbeverage.com)
Now under new ownership, Vista Beer & Beverage is a very clean, inviting, well-organized store with a vast selection of suds and knowledgeable staff. If that wasn’t enough, they have started their tasting/taps program where they will host complementary, fresh, tap tastings each Saturday and Sunday.
Next up: June 27, Troegs mania, where you’ll be able to check out the awesome Pennsylvania Troegs brewery’s offerings.
Vista is also starting a Brewery Tour program. Stay tuned.
The Katonah Beer Man
Hit me up on the email machine with comments or ideas for future columns at TheKatonahBeerMan@gmail.com.