Summer can bring some of the best seasonal beers. Goses, hoppy pilsners, session IPAs and wheat beers of all variety seem to pair perfectly with a hot summer day in the sun. Summer beers also can feature some interesting adjuncts. The addition of fruit and flowery herbs can transform a year-round offering into the perfect match for summer, but it is a fine line to walk.
Avery’s summer seasonal Bug Zapper is an ambitious offering that doubles down on the adjunct additions. A sour ale dosed with mint, lime zest and ginger, it aims to be refreshing while providing a “finishing electric zap.” Avery is a hit-or-miss brewery for me, but when it hits, it typically hits big, which is why Bug Zapper peaked my interest.
Bug Zapper tastes like a beer version of a Moscow Mule—if the cocktail was made with cheap ginger beer and bottled lime juice.”
Appearance and Aroma
The beer pours a typical but appealing hazy golden-orange. A finger of white head quickly fades leaving behind a glass that isn’t very lively. Leaning over the beer reveals an initially off-putting aroma. Artificial lime tartness mixes with a chalky sweetness make for a smell that more resembles off-brand fruit candy than beer. Maybe it is the name playing tricks, but the mint and ginger combination gives off grassy, herbal hints of citronella in the aroma. Bug Zapper at least reminds me of summer in that way.
Raising the glass for a drink, the sweetness is much less pronounced, with tartness dominating the initial taste. It certainly is more of a beer-appropriate tartness than pure lime juice, with mint and ginger popping in the middle of each sip. At 6% ABV, Bug Zapper is medium- to light-bodied. Paired with a slightly drying finish, it could be a refreshing beer were it not for the flavor. The ginger and mint sweetness builds on the tongue as you drink, leaving Bug Zapper relegated to best-enjoyed-in-a-taster status.
The taste is complex, with several distinct flavor notes. Lime, mint and ginger are each recognizable, but in a way that feels very artificial. Bug Zapper tastes like a beer version of a Moscow Mule—if the cocktail was made with cheap ginger beer and bottled lime juice. While those are flavors I’m quite familiar with, they are not flavors I want in a beer.