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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beer Tasting Notes {Battle of the "Summer" Beers}

I take great pleasure in seasonal beers: a good seasonal embodies and elaborates on the spirit of each season, in turn.  They capture the season's essence and infuse your spirit with the flavors associated with it.  When imbibed out-of-season, they make you nostalgic for the time you are savoring with your tongue.  

In short, seasonal beers are awesome.

If you haven't already figured this out about me: I love summer.  Hot days filled with barbecues, swimming, gardening, fairs, farmer's markets... wildflowers all over... warm breezy nights lit with string lights and lanterns... good times all fueled by good craft beer.

There are a number of summer seasonals, and I decided to compare some of them.  Here we go!

Big Sky Summer Honey Ale
Big Sky's summer seasonal pours a light honey-yellow and has a fleeting thin foam layer.  It has a very lemony-citrus nose and a very mellow (almost absent) pale malt flavor with a faint honey finish.  It's light bodied and dry.  Sessionable at 4.7% ABV, but  light almost to the point of being a little boring for a craft beer.  

Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager
Summerfest pilsner-style lager pours a light golden-yellow with a fizzy fleeting collar of foam.  I smell hay and spicy hops.  The first sip harbors flavors of dry pale malt and the telltale citrusy hops prevalent in Sierra Nevada's brews.  It has a pleasant herbal, biting, lemony hop finish.  It is a thirst quenching session beer at 5% ABV.

Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat
Summer Honey (formerly known as Honey Moon) pours a hazy sunny golden with a thin head that diminishes to nothing. It smells like a wheat field on a hot summer afternoon, with a touch of citrus hiding at the edges.  The honey flavor is prevalent throughout, with a light malt middle.  I don't detect a lot of hop flavor, except in the orangey-citrus flavor at the edges.  Summer Honey is the sweetest beer of the bunch.  I have a penchant for this beer (I have a sweet tooth, so sue me), and drink it every summer.  Very sessionable at 5.2% ABV.

Anchor Summer Beer
(inserting previously posted tasting notes... because I'm lazy... and I want to be done with this post so I can go have a beer already)
Sunshine in a bottle!  This 4.6% ABV Pale Wheat Ale pours a hazy golden honey color like a lazy sunshiney day, with a perfectly clean white head of foam like a single perfect cloud in the summer sky.  It has a light citrusy wheat flavor and is very light bodied, which makes it very sessionable and thirst-quenchingly perfect for a hot summer night (or day).  It has a very faint hint of honey, as if a bee dipped its toes in to cool them off for a spell.  Bliss.

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema
This is a very unique beer experience.  Summer Solstice is a cream beer, and to me the mouthfeel outplayed the flavor.  This was my first cream beer, and the creamy sensation of teeny tiny spicy bubbles partying on my tongue was a trip.  It poured a clear orangey color, and smelled sweet and malty.  I tasted hints of tart orange rind and sweet caramel malt.  Medium bodied.  5.6% ABV, and because of the overwhelming (but not unpleasant) mouthfeel, I wouldn't call this a session beer.



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