When I asked for the summer beer recommendations, one friend simply suggested “a lot.” Yes, very clever. Here are six beers particularly good for summer.
Anchor Steam Beer, Anchor Brewery
When I worked at the New Pioneer Co-op as a bagger and cashier so many years ago, I was intrigued by this bottle. This was before the huge rise in microbrews (which then grew so popular that they were bought by major brewers and the brews became not-so-micro), so there was novelty to a beer you couldn’t buy at a gas station.
Steam-style is the only beer style native to America, invented, at least the story goes, by European immigrants living on the West Coast (it uses a lager yeast yet doesn’t ferment under refrigeration the way a lager does). Anchor is the only brewery that produces it commercially, mostly because they own the trademark.
Oberon, Bell’s Brewery
Last summer, when I was working for The Tampa Tribune, I covered a craft beer expo. It was a popular event to cover; Jeff Houck, the paper’s food writer, and Rommie Johnson, editor of the paper’s Friday Extra entertainment section, had press credentials, too. And cover might be the wrong word since it ended up getting about a single paragraph in the paper.
So while it might just have been an excuse for the three of us to drink on the job, we did get some great beer out of it, including Oberon, from Michigan’s Bell’s Brewery. I did spend much of my afternoon elbowing drunk Floridians wearing “beer wenches want me” T-shirts out of the way to get more of this this fruity and well-hopped wheat ale out of the freebie Samuel Adams glasses. Still, it couldn’t make up for the number of times I overheard someone say they were “just here for the beer.”
Odd that I had to go to Florida to try this Midwestern brew.
Dogfish Head 60-minute IPA
Dogfish offers three different IPAs, short for India Pale Ale because it was traditionally produced to last the long ship voyage from Britian to India and so needed to be heavily hopped. Each version is named for the length it is boiled when still raw wort (the state before it is fermented). The 60-minute version is the least alcoholic (since less water is boiled off than the 90-minute and 120-minute brews).
Boulevard Ales Smokestack Series Saison
I like all four of Boulevard’s Smokestack Series ales but because of Iowa’s arcane alcohol laws, which treat high-alcohol beers like hard liquor despite having alcohol content similar to wine, makes them harder to find.
The brewery’s Saison is light and wheat-y and therefor the most summer-y. But really, if you find a place that has all four you should buy one of each.
ESB, Red Hook
Readily available, reasonably priced and reliably decent, Red Hook’s ESB (which the brewery used to label “Extra Special Bitter” until it learned was a turn off to mass-market beer consumers) is as good a stand-by as any.
Pabst Blue Ribbon
Everyone — even beer snobs — have a favorite cheap beer. PBR is the beer of my childhood. OK, teenage years.
It was the beer of choice for us hard-core punk-rock kids. (One night, drinking under a train bridge, I impressed my future sister-in-law with my ability to vomit and then return to drinking. Classy.) So it’s nostalgic for me.
What else do you like for summer?