Friday Top 5: Beers of Summer

With the daily temperature peaking at 105 most days, we can tell that summertime is upon us.  When this season hits, I always look forward to all the summer-release beers that show up on the shelves.  Many beer companies take advantage of their customer’s need for a refreshing brew during the summer heat, and beer is definitely the best way keep cool and unwind after a long, hot day.  I enjoy looking around hoping to find a cheery and delightful depiction of a summer paradise on the label, and give it a try.  Good summer beer isn’t just light and drinkable, but is easy to pair with barbeque and poolside sipping.

Several ATH folks and friends gathered around to conduct a summer beer taste-testing session, and selected 11 beers to complete our ratings.  We realize this does not encapsulate every single summer seasonal, but we grabbed what we could find.  We were served a sample, discussed the flavor, created a nickname and rated it as follows: Great Summer Beer, Average and Never Again.

5. Sam Adams Summer Ale – “Citrus Highlife”

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As you can see from the ratings, the majority thought this one was a typically average summer beer.  It has the citrus tastes that most crave, combined with the carbonation and lightness of a lower grade beer.  I found out that it has a rare pepper from Africa that was first used as a brewing spice in the 13th Century.  Maybe our mediocre descriptions spoke too soon.

4. Leinienkugel Summer Shandy – “Lemonale”

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In case you are in my position of never drinking a “shandy”, it is actually a mixed drink made from beer, usually a Pilsner. This explains the natural lemonade flavor in this beverage; with a lemon dominated aroma from the moment the bottle is opened.  One of our taste-testers expressed that they “could drink the shit out of it all day.” I agree.

3. New Belgium Somersault – “Kurt Russell’s Pale Ale”

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We had an additional taste-tester come into the picture during this time that immediately named this one due to its combination of intensity and smoothness.  It’s quenching, not overly complex and simply sweet.  Someone even called it “firefly nectar”.  Overall it has great drinkability with great fruity tastes.

2. Brooklyn Summer Ale – “Two-Shake Heffy”

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The first sniff and taste are what led to this nickname.  It’s definitely a wheat beer known for its hop bitterness, and we caught that right away.  It has a very clean taste, a fair amount of carbonation, and overall a nice summer drinker even thought we expected more citrusy flavors.  It is also available in a can, which has become a growing trend for specialty beer.

1. Shocktop Belgium White – “Orange Crush”

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This beer was the most pleasurable out of our selection, and we were surprised that this was our top rated.  Most everyone was satisfied with the citrusy taste and blissful aromas of wheat.  Majority agreed that we would drink this fairly light beer on any summer day in any given situation.  They offer this one in a can as well, so pick up a sixer that next trip to the river.

Our taste-testing selection also included: Shiner Ruby Redbird “Grapeshit Sassafrass”, Blue Moon Honey Moon Summer Ale “Ghost Beer”, Pyramid Curve Ball “Lonestar Summerstock”, Saint Arnold Summer Pils “Champlain”, Cantina “The Bonnabrew”, and Sierra Nevada Summerfest “Bitter Not Have That Beer Again”.  Let us know what other summer seasonal beers we should take a poke at, maybe round two is around the corner…

7 comments

  • Great Top 5 Mair! I like that ATH is branching out into Beer Blog territory. Much more exciting than music anyway.

  • Nice Top 5. If anyone else needs me to drink beer for scientific purposes, let me know. I am always game.

  • Those are some great suggestions. I gotta check out the Brooklyn.

    I have been partial to Narragansett Summer Ale (which might not be available in the ATX) & Sixpoint’s Sweet Action.

    You also can’t go wrong with Modela Especial!

  • Good list. I’m also disappointed w/ Shiner’s Ruby Redbird offering. Pity.

    If its available in your area, give the new Tallgrass Halcyon Unfiltered Wheat a try. Local liquor store guy said it just came out in April. Similar to Shock Top but they use tangerine instead of orange. Like Leiney’s Shandy, I could drink the shit out of Halcyon all day. (www.tallgrassbeer.com)

  • A top five beer list on an Austin blog and none of the top five featured are local beers?
    Live Oak Hefe-Weizen beats every beer on that list, and it’s brewed in our own backyard. The Jester King Drinkin’ the Sunbelt is a phenomenal summer beer, as is the (512) ALT and the Real Ale Hanz Pilz.
    Did any of these great beers even have an appearance at the tasting?

    This is essentially the same as putting together a top five best summer music list and only listing songs and artists featured on the top 40.
    Yuck.

  • Hey Chris.

    Thanks for the comment. I will admit that we are by no means the expert that you are for local beer. This top 5 was a spur of the moment idea and we had to use what was available at our local HEB. I’m sure you are aware that a grocery store like HEB doesn’t have a huge local beer selection. This was really a way for some friends to get together and try out some new beers while commenting on each one and being in good company. Isn’t that a big part of the joy in drinking?

    As to the beers you mention, I actually really enjoy all Live Oak beers, Real Ale products and the (512) ATL, but are those really summer beers? I would say not at all. Maybe it could be argued that the Hefe-Weizen is… I am not familiar with the Jester King brand, where could I pick some up?

    Also, Shiner was represented, but did not taste well, or is that too commercial for you? St. Arnold out of Houston is here as well, but also did not taste well.

    Maybe you’d like to do some writing for us? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the top local beers via ATH article or even a rebuttal article.

    Also, did you happen to read our top local beer top 5 by author raygun?
    http://austintownhall.com/2011/06/10/friday-top-5-local-beers/
    He would be considered the biggest beer expert on staff.

    Thanks for reading.

    P.S. Also really glad to know about the site you maintain. Looks like a great resource for our readers to find and seek out local beers. Would love to talk about collaborating in the future.

  • Great top, love the Brooklyn Summer Ale I would love to try it out in one of these beer towers: http://www.thebeergiraffe.com/en/what-is-a-beer-tower/

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