It’s officially summer tomorrow, and time for a new crop of light, refreshing summer beers. Blue Paddle from Colorado’s New Belgium Brewery fits that bill. It’s a Czech-style Pilsener and the first lagered beer New Belgium produced. The nose is grassy with peach and a bit of apricot. The middle is malty and has a surprisingly heavy body. Not too heavy, but I’d call it a medium bodied beer. There are notes of toast and grain and a very bready finish. This is a definitely a malt-forward beer, with the hop notes deep in the background. This is probably a bit rich and heavy to be a proper lawnmower beer, but it’s a properly good Czech Pilsner.
I give it a 4.2 out of 5.
Last weekend we hosted an engagement party for friends, and so not personally knowing most of the attendees, I had quite a variety of beer on hand to cater to various tastes. Sorting through the leftovers I found I still had a number of bottles of Samuel Adams Light, my offering for those wanting a low-calorie option. I haven’t yet reviewed this beer, and as the Boston Beer Company is, by most measures a craft brewery, it’s time to fix that. So, there’s nothing wrong with this beer, per se. It is a light beer. It isn’t brewed with adjuncts, so you get a reasonable caramel malt nose and flavor, but it is as light as the beer. The finish is more mineral water than anything else. It’s certainly palatable, and would be a fine refreshing beverage, but there’s really nothing to set it above any of its macro-brewed counterparts.
I give it a 2.5 out of 5.
We are coming to the last few winter seasonals for the year, and today we have Piercing Pils from Dogfish Head. Now, a Pilsner is a bit of an unusual choice for a winter seasonal, and Pilsner isn’t one of my favorite styles in any case, but I’m keeping an open mind. Dogfish Head calls this both a Perry-Pils hybrid, and a Czech-style Pilsner, and to those ends it has been brewed with pear juice, White Pear Tea, and spice Saaz hops. The result is delicious. The head is long lasting and creamy. The nose is light and smells faintly of apple, pear, and ground wheat. The middle is superbly balanced between sweet pears and bitter herbs, both of which fade into a toasty finish that also adds a bit of lemon. The body is light and crisp, and the alcohol is a moderate 6.0% ABV. This is a really fantastic beer, and I’d be happy to drink quite a lot of it. Pity it’s a seasonal.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
My favorite beer that the reviewers love to hate, Shiner Ruby Redbird by the Spoetzl Brewery of Shiner, Texas, while a beer of only modest acclaim by the authorities one might fine on the Internet, is also one of the few brews to make it onto my Five Best Beers for Summer list recently. To me, this beer is light, well-carbonated, and loaded with tangy citrus which makes it just about a perfect liquid refreshment for a hot summer afternoon. The scent is bready, and there is a bit of spice, and the middle is all grapefruit. There’s some ginger, which shows up a bit in the finish along with some toasty malt and a bit of bitter grapefruit rind, and just a little astringency. It may not win any awards, but it’s one that I’ll reach for without any hesitation, summer after summer.
I give it a 4 out of 5.
Yuengling is widely regarded as a “craft-y” rather than a craft brewer both because of it’s size, (over two million barrels annually) and the fact that the recipe for their Traditional Lager uses an adjunct ingredient in corn. However, given that they’ve been a family-owned brewery ever since the company was formed in 1829, and since the recipe for Traditional Lager hasn’t been changed since the late 19th century, I tend to cut them some slack. The beer is a fairly mainstream style american lager. The head is fairly weak, and the scent is of toast with honey. The middle has roasted grain and quite a bit of sweet honey. The finish is slightly metallic, and the flavor of corn peeks through here. The transitions and overall flavor profile is very smooth and mellow, but not overly watery, and the body is light to medium. It’s a really nice lager, and I enjoy it as a malty break from the hop-bombs that I normally crave. This is a good lager, and a great into to start transitioning a beginning beer drinking away from the macro world.
I give it a 4 out of 5.
Ruby Lager is a red lager from Charlotte’s Old Hickory Brewery. It’s a fairly traditional malt-heavy lager with some neat flavors. The nose is super bready with some well-done toast. The middle is flinty, with molasses and a bit of lemon zest. The finish is pretty similar to the middle. The bottle claims a “nutty” finish, but I’m not tasting it, so it must be pretty subtle. All in all, a nice, but not great lager. One that I wouldn’t hesitate to order, but also wouldn’t seek out.
I give it a 3.4 out of 5.
Porch Rocker is another of the styles in this year’s Beer of Summer variety pack from Samuel Adams. It’s a shandie, which is a mix of beer and lemonade which is a nice refreshing combo but a style that seems to generally lack a bit when pre-blended before bottling. The flavors just don’t seem to mesh well, and there’s a bit of a back and forth tussle between the sweet lemonade and the malty lager. I’ll give this one a pass in future.
I give it a 1.8 out of 5.
I’ve got another light, refreshing drink on the menu today. New Belgium Brewing’s Shift Pale Lager is a hoppy, crisp lager and it is quite delicious. The nose has a lot of orange and floral notes. The middle has lemon and a bit of pine and bread, and the finish faintly reminds me of rye. This is a really well executed hoppy lager (though not nearly as hoppy as Samuel Adams Double Agent IPL) and I really enjoy it.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.