It's definitely summer, which fulfills practically everyone's requirement for a nice cold beer. The neatest thing about beer is that there are so many varieties and so many breweries, you can't ever get bored drinking it. This summer I turned to the 10 most wanted summer brews for inspiration....
Yes, there is such a list at RateBeer's special brew site, where beer-drinking connoisseurs go to chat about and rate the beers they drink. Members drop by from everywhere in the world and they are serious, very serious, about beer... using terms to describe the taste and texture of beer that might surprise the novice beer drinker.
For summer, they like the lighter beers like ales and pilsners, but even dark beers like stout come in ranges of dark, and the stouts of summer are not the kind you can cut with a knife, but fruitier and sweeter, with more carbonation than winter brews. Let's look at what's in RateBeer's top ten, as of today...
Number 1 Most Wanted Summer Brew: AleSmith YuleSmith Summer India Pale Ale
India Pale Ale is a favorite of summer and AleSmith beers are especially good in summer. The YuleSmith is described as an aromatic, sweet, dark orange to brown brew with floral, hops, citrus, pineapple and a variety of spices. Some include chocolate and carmel in the description; others remark about the malty qualities. Taste is so personal, isn't it? AleSmith's home is in San Diego. It's YuleSmith Summer India Pale Ale is available on tap and in bottles in these markets. (If you're wondering about the photo on the right, I could not obtain a decent photo of the Summer Ale, so the image is of the YuleSmith Holiday India Pale Ale.)
Number 2 Most Wanted Summer Brew: Pizza Port Hop 15
Another brew from San Diego -- San Marcos, actually -- the Port Brewing/Lost Abbey brewer is well known for its beer crafting, having taken home many international awards. With the Pizza Port, considered a double India Pale Ale, rich in flavors -- citrus, pine, grass -- heavy on the hops, with a clean, refreshing finish. The Pizza Port, named after Port Brewing's first pizza restaurant, is distributed mostly in bottles worldwide.
Number 3 Most Wanted Summer Brew: Avery The Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale
Avery Brewing is a Boulder, Colorado brewer, and the Majaraja is a spirited summer selection. Heavy on the hops, the beer pours a dark clear orange, and it has a strong taste. Sweet, with flavors of caramel and pine, and an unidentified fruity aroma. The Maharaja is available in bottles and on tap in the U.S. and in Denmark and Finland.
Number 4 Most Wanted Summer Brew:New Glarus Dancing Man Wheat
Brewed in New Glarus, Wisconsin, the Dancing Man Wheat is classified as a German Hefeweizen, a Bavarian wheat beer that is characterized by a cloudy pour and a banana and/or vanilla aftertaste. The raters like the dancer in this beer: the wheaty, spicy, "banana taffy," clove, and coriander taste. A thin to medium bodied beer, that pours a yellow golden and has a thick head. Available in bottles in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Number 5 Most Wanted Summer Brew: Buckeye 76 India Pale Ale
Another American summer brew, the Buckeye 76 is made by Buckeye Brewing Company in Lakewood, Ohio. A very dry, hoppy, citrusy clear light amber, the raters vote high for the grapefruit and peach, and many say a bitter finish. Only available on tap in Ohio.
Number 6 Most Wanted Summer Brew:Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti
Great Divide Yeti is a very dark pouring Imperial Stout with, as the name tells you, a rich chocolate aroma and taste. This is an unusual choice for a summer beer, but the reviewers didn't seem to care. Maybe it's the fact that the Yeti tastes a lot like a gourmet chocolate bar with a vanilla and cayenne finish. Available in bottles and on tap in several U.S. states.
Number 7 Most Wanted Summer Brew: Ottos Sumatra Stout
A dry stout from the Ottos Pub & Brewery in State College, PA, coffee lovers should really enjoy the Sumatra Stout. Described as "creamy and smooth," "pure black gold," bitter chocolaty, a hint of vanilla, "a mocha milkshake..." Sorry, no fruit here. But you should read the reviews yourself; they are among the most poetic I've seen. Unfortunately, this lovely is only available on tap at Ottos Pub & Brewery, and it doesn't seem to be on tap at this writing.
Number 8 Most Wanted Summer Brew: Fantôme Pissenlit
Don't let the fact that dandelion tea is the basis for the Pissenlit, which is usually made with barley malt and hops. ("Pissenlit" means "piss in the bed" in French, and uncooked dandelions are said to have a diuretic effect.) A peppy Belgian brew that pours amber, the flavor is described as acidic or very citric, depending on the reviewer. Orange makes a strong appearance as does spice. The Pissenlit is sold in bottles only in Belgium.
Number 9 Most Wanted Summer Brew: Founders Blushing Monk
Brewed by the Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI, this Belgian "razz" or fruit beer pours a hazy red that no one disagrees is distinctly raspberry in aroma and flavor. "Berry fruity." A medium body with not too much carbonation. Sweet with the bitter following of a berry. Check out the places it is sold in Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Michigan.
Number 10 Most Wanted Summer Brew: Lagunitas A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale
From the Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, CA, the name of this India Pale Ale and the provocative label are certainly is worthy of a high rating. Creativity lives in the taste as well. according to reviews. The "prickly carbonation" gives rise to a hoppy, fruity aroma, and a citrus, pine and floral hops taste with a subtle graininess and caramel finish. Available on tap and in bottles in several states.
I wish I had one of these Most Wanted Summer Beers right now. Writing this blog has made my mouth water. Well, I'll go check the fridge and see what we've got!
If you would like to see the whole list of top summer beers, visit RateBeer and check them out. Ratebeer has many lists of top beers all voted on by its thousands of international beer lovers. Read the reviews. They are really stunning.