Stephanie’s Summer Suds Shortlist

| July 13, 2008 | 5 Comments
  • 5 Comments

markbeer.jpgI think beer is getting a little out of control. It all started with the Bud Light Lime, which is an okay idea, I guess. I mean, I’d much rather jam my own lime slice down the long neck of a Corona, but for the lazier out there who don’t mind the taste of artificial lime mixed in with their frat beer? God bless. Yes, they say it’s “100% natural lime,” but they had to stabilize the juice for shelf life and filter it for clarity, so not sure how much natural is left.

However, Michelob has really gone overboard with their Ultra flavors, because Lime Cactus? Pomegranate Raspberry? TUSCAN ORANGE GRAPEFRUIT? Are these beers or wine coolers? Look, if you didn’t want your mass-produced, skanky beer not to taste like mass-produced, skanky beer, here’s a tip: stop making mass-produced, skanky beer!

Meanwhile, there are a ton of summer sippers out there just waiting to be quaffed. Here’s my shortlist of summer suds:

Wailua Wheat, Kona Brewing Company (Kona, HI): Made by Kona Brewing in Hawaii and raved about here. In a nutshell, it’s hoppy and fruity but not fruity like a fruit beer. The passionfruit is more of a kiss than a belt across the mouth. Also? It was featured in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. (You know you drink a lot of beer when you can recognize a beer by the neck label on a small television screen.)

Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema, Anderson Valley Brewing Company (Booneville, CA): I discovered Summer Solstice on a hot San Diego taco night. The spiced meat released the cold, creamy soul of the beer. If a root beer float were made with actual beer, it would be Summer Solstice.

Mothership Wit, New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, CO): Bright, white, and organic, Mothership is brewed with both wheat and barley malt along with a feisty dabble of bitter orange peel and coriander.

Skinny Dip, New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, CO): The bikini-friendly answer to New Belgium’s classic Fat Tire. Skinny Dip is lower in calories and alcohol content but just as big and hoppy in the mouth. The light smudge of kaffir lime makes you happy to be alive.

Golden Monkey, Victory Brewing Company (Downington, PA): Spiky and weird, the beer bubbles in this pour are pure Belgian-style tripel. It sparkles in both your mouth and belly with a yeast-ful power that batters back even the stickiest of temps.

Sam Adams Summer Ale (Boston, MA): A wheat beer brewed with grains of paradise and citrus peel, making it lovely with an overstuffed lobster roll and a walk on a singing beach.

Boddingtons (Manchester, UK): The head on this beer is so thick, the ads in the UK show men shaving with it. It might be a bit on the hearty side for summer, but the bitter back-of-the-tongue thrill gives me happy goosebumps in any season.

Racer 5, Bear Republic Brewery (Healdsburg, CA): Unashamedly hoppy, this is definitely a beer for all seasons, but something about the heady strength makes it ultimate refreshment on a sweaty day or heavy night.

Magic Hat No. 9 (Burlington, VT): There’s a strange but wonderful hint of summer stone fruit in this pale-ish ale, which the brewery itself calls “impossible to describe because there’s never been anything else quite like it.” I long for my East Coast life when No. 9 was stocked in my fridge and pray Magic Hat makes its delicious way West some day.

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Category: Bay Area Bites Food + Drink, beer

About the Author ()

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for CNN.com, MSNBC.com, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED's Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED's Emmy-award winning show "Check, Please! Bay Area." Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater's Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called "hilarious" and "the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn't think he or she wants to read a popular science book." Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport
  • http://www.gastronomie-sf.com Fatemeh

    I love this post, Steph! From those of us who savor a cold one on a hot day just as much as we do a big, rich red with a rare ribeye, THANK YOU!

    I do want to add two to your list — one local, and one recently discovered.

    21 Amendment’s Watermelon Wheat is a thing of beauty, even for those of us not typically partial to wheat beers. As of this month, you can find it in local BevMos.

    The other is Mannekin Pis by Brasserie Lefebvre is another Witbier, essentially a Blanche de Bruxelles. HOWEVER, the best analogy I can offer is that drinking the Mannekin is like drinking an icy-cold Moscato d’Asti on a hot day. Lots of floral notes, easy-drinking, and a measly 4.5% ABV.

  • Kelly

    Oberon by Bell’s Brewing out of Kalamazoo is one of my favorites. It’s a little like Blue Moon, but lighter and not fruity, really. I think it has more alcohol in it too. Actually, I really like all of Bell’s beers, but I don’t know how available it is outside of the midwest. It’s so popular in Michigan that two stores we went to were sold out on the 4th.

  • http://www.lifebeginsat30.com jen maiser

    The Ultra flavors really had me befuddled the other day – enough so that I backed Tivo up twice to figure it out. At first I thought they were malt liquor type, Zima drinks. That’s gross enough, but I think that flavoring beer is grosser.

  • http://mastercheesemakerbook.com James Norton

    I survived five Boston summers on mint juleps, Murphy’s red ale and Magic Hat #9. I miss Magic Hat #9. A lot. Hard to imagine a beer packing a hit of peach and not sucking, but there you go — it was pretty subtle and the whole package was so crisp and refreshing.

  • http://www.grubreport.com Stephanie

    F — thanks! And thanks for the recs. I’ll have to check those out, although I’m a little scared of Watermelon Wheat. I’m not a big fan of watermelon in general.

    Kelly — I adored Bell’s when I was at school in Ann Arbor. You guys have something special there.

    James — I think what makes No. 9 so special is the apricot flavor (I’m pretty sure it’s apricot and not peach, at least, according to their website?) is dusky and not sweet at all.