Today I thought I’d make this blog a little more interactive, seeing as how we have no comments or discussions from our many (read: 6) followers. The topic for today is summer beers. I can’t think of a seasonal that I look forward to more than craft summer – crisp, light, often citrusy with medium hop profile, their arrival on shelves and taps in early May is the true harbinger of the warm, pleasant weather to come. At least for me it is. There’s an indescribable feeling that I get when that very first pint of summer ale touches my lips and coats my taste buds. Some might call it alcoholism in the works; I prefer to leave its mystery be and just enjoy it.

So what I want to know today is, what are YOUR favorite summer beers? While the style is mostly the same for most seasonals (light, crisp, hoppy Kolsh or Weizen, with exceptions, of course), the taste, profile, and quenchability of each individual brew is as unique as the craft breweries that make them. Below are my top 5, which are most definitely NOT set in stone, and often change week to week:

  1. Sam Adams Summer Ale – Maybe it’s because it’s the most widely distributed summer ale, or maybe it’s because of the unique, clean light hop profile accentuated by citrus peel and the very unique Grains of Paradise, but I just love this beer. On any warm, humid summer day, if you offered me water or this, 9 times out of 10 I would tell you to fill up the fish tank and give me this beer. Goes very well as a session beer too, especially when you’re drinking outside with friends on your porch, at the beach, or at one of the many patio bars in Bay Ridge and Park Slope. Outstanding, even as Sam Adams has continued to grow beyond official “Craft Beer” status.
  2. Dogfish Head Aprihop – I don’t know if this beer is officially considered a summer seasonal, but it really doesn’t matter because it is such a unique and unbelievably delicious brew from perhaps the most innovative mad scientist craft brewer on the planet – Sam Calagione’s Dogfish Head. An IPA with a HUGE nose of apricot tamed by an enticing hop aroma, this beer tastes almost exactly how it smells – delicious, a bit heavy yet refreshing, with heavenly apricot notes on the tongue that swirl away to a sharp hop bite on the backend. Definitely not a session beer at around 8%, but you can’t tell me that one of these doesn’t quench a parched throat on a hot night.
  3. Goose Island Summer Ale – Finally had a chance to enjoy this wonderful take on the Kolsh style the other day at Ski Bar. Very light and refreshing, with a nice mouthfeel and a crisp finish. I’m not usually a big fan of Goose Island stuff, but this might make me think twice about writing off Chicago’s biggest brewery.
  4. Brooklyn Sorachi Ace – This American saison brewed with the rare Sorachi Ace hop recently replaced the excellent Brooklyn-Schneider Hopfen Weisse in 22oz bottles, and is an exceptional example of a light, citrusy, high alcohol summer brew that is more a “reward beer” than a session beer. Of course, the $12 – 18 dollar price tag would probably tell you that in the first place. If you can find this on tap, it’s definitely worth getting, but the bottle refermented version is perfect to pop open on a hot summer night spent on your porch, opposite a medium rare burger in your other hand.
  5. Coney Island Albino Python – Another beer that is technically not an exclusive “Summer beer” per se, but I couldn’t leave it off this list, because no summer is complete, at least for me, without spending an entire day sitting at Beer Island on the Coney boardwalk drinking 6 or 7 of these uniquely spiced witbiers. As Santomarco pointed out to me 2 weeks ago when we were brewing, the taste of the Albino Python has morphed as of late, now reflecting an obvious upfront mint taste, which was not in last year’s version. Whether this was an intentional implementation of Schmaltz, or whether this is a result of this year’s hop harvest, it definitely lends the beer an even more unique, if not more polarizing taste than before. I still like it, but I wouldn’t mind if the next batch harkens back to the 2009 version.

So again, we’d like to know, what are YOUR favorite beers to sit back and enjoy this summer?

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