Seasons are the perfect reset button. Moods and feelings get to begin again as the weather shifts its focus. Seasons signal the end of one thing and the beginning of another.
Fall is the beginning of school. It’s when memories take us back to getting a new pair of shoes or pants or the return to campus. Memories creep into focus with the smell of rotting leaves.
But beer has ruined seasons like cable news has ruined news. By trying to be first on the market with their seasonal favorites, breweries have pushed that same seasonal beer into irrelevance. Octoberfest beers now come out in August, sitting on shelves and tempting us with the end of summer and the sun. By Halloween, we see Thanksgiving and Christmas beers. The liquor store was once a safe-haven from the shilling of holiday nonsense, sticking strictly to the most relevant holiday in sight, selling it. They’ve now become big box stores trying to get you to buy Valentine's Day nonsense the day after Christmas.
But, thanks to global warming (or climate change, whatever you want to call it), record temperatures in May made me thirst for a summer beer. I wanted something refreshing and light that wouldn’t carry with it a bag of hops, haze or fill my stomach with dread.
I felt like I was dying in the heat. The air was thick and I had yard work to do. I couldn’t be out downing a few bombastic IPAs as I mowed the lawn. I needed something that wasn’t water or a Corona. After surfing the aisles and the coolers at one of my local spots, I decided on a six pack of Brooklyn Brewing Company’s Summer Ale.
Summer beers were some of the first beers that set me on my path into craft beer – specifically, Sam Adams’ Summer Ale. The lemon zest notes, the bit of hops and the crisp, cool finish. It allowed me to dip my toes into anything except for college thirty racks.
By the time I rounded out and expanded my horizon, Brooklyn was on my list of breweries that pushed me and made me take notice of variety and possibilities. Picking up Summer Ale was easy because of that. I knew I was going to get a good beer that would be balanced and enjoyable. I also knew it wouldn’t have any adjuncts or be a lemonade cooler.
What summer beer should be is crisp, clean and refreshing.”
Brooklyn’s Summer Ale can be a trusted alternative to Sam Adams Summer Ale. Its malt backbone is bread-like but dry thanks to British 2-Row barley, a relative to the common American 2-Row, with a light bitterness and subtle notes of flora aromas mixed with a solid blend of grapefruit thanks to the Ahtanum and Cascade hops that are balanced by Amarillo.
It’s easy drinking with plenty of flavor. It won’t knock anyone out or run wild on Untappd and in beer trading circles, but that’s not why it’s brewed from March to August. Sometimes you just need a beer when it’s hot out that won’t set you back.
Craft beer’s summer default has become synonymous with “session beers” and tropical fruit beers or the kettle sour (Goes with [insert fruit note here]) movement. But what summer beer should be is crisp, clean and refreshing.
And craft beer should lead that charge and push back against the syrupy beers that flood the market with adjunct flavors. Summer should be a time when you enjoy yourself and enjoy your beer without feeling like a Goliath has rested in your stomach. It’s a time when hops shouldn’t be suffering in a warm can in the sun. It’s also not great for hangovers, oh the horrible sun pushing against your eyes as you try to wake up from the fetal position on the cool bathroom floor.
I sat back in my patio with my Brooklyn Summer after mowing the lawn and enjoyed the few moments of silence in my busy neighborhood. I was freshly showered after completing most of my yardwork check list. The sun was setting. I flicked on the string of lights I had installed last year and stared off into the distance for the few minutes of peace I had before returning to my family. I wanted nothing less than to enjoy this beer without thinking about the juiciness or the mouthfeel or the malt bill.
I enjoyed the stillness.