Today’s topic for Friday Five is “summer treats”. If you’ve been reading my blog for more than five minutes, you know that’s going to lead me directly to beer. Honestly, an ice cold beer after a hot run is one of the most refreshing treats you can find. Here are five styles to go for this summer – they are all refreshing and are often what one would call a session beer AKA a lower alcohol beer that allows you to drink more than one. Do not, however, confuse these beers with light beers. They have way more flavor (and calories) than that.
- Wheat beers – Last year, wheat beers became my beer of choice when it’s hot out. There are a variety of styles within this category, but they all have a significant percentage of wheat versus barley. I find that most have a distinctive “wheat” taste to them. White beers, wit beers, hefeweizen and weizenbocks all fall into this category. Some of my favorites include Ommegang Witte and Hoegaarden Wit.
- Blonde ales – Blonde ales are generally light in color and don’t have a strong hop or malt profile. This means they are neither particularly bitter or heavy and sweet. They are an easy beer to drink and allow for drinking more than one. Some great examples are Shiner Golden Ale and Widmer Citra Blonde.
- Fruit beers – This isn’t exactly a style in the sense that the base beer can be a wheat beer or a blonde beer or some other version. What all these beers have in common is the addition of fruit (or fruit extract) into the beer. You name a fruit and it is probably out there – they range from New Glarus Strawberry Rhubarb to Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat Ale to 21st Amendments Hell or High Watermelon.
- Sour beers – Sour beers also encompass a variety of styles, but the main thing that they have in common is they are likely to make you pucker at least a little bit. My first experience with a truly sour beer was drinking Gueze in Belgium. In recent years, it’s become much more popular in the U.S. In fact, Wicked Weed has a second location in Asheville that is primarily sour beers! These often have fruit added as well. Some of my favorite examples are Otra Vez from Sierra Nevada and Briney Melon Gose from Anderson Valley and Sour Me This from DuClaw.
- IPAs – IPAs are all the rage right now. I admit that there are a lot of them that I don’t like because I don’t like Centennial hops. They taste like grapefruit to me (and I don’t like grapefruit.) Luckily, because it’s cool to experiment with IPAs, brewers have been experimenting with other hops. I’m totally in love with Citra hops and pretty much like any beer brewed with it. Our local brewpub, Mad Fox Brewing, makes the most amazing IPA with Citra, called Orange Whip. Definitely one to try if you ever get a chance.
Of course there is always the option of a Shandy or Radler, which is a lager mixed with lemonade or soda. These can be quite refreshing and really tasty if the base beer is good.
Do you have a favorite summer beer? Tell me – I’m always looking for new beers to try.