When it comes to hot weather, I'm basically a grumpy old man, yelling at summer to get off my lawn, while counting down the days until the first day of fall. (96 days, as of today.) Instead of warmth and sunshine, I live for sweaters and cold weather, while enjoying an aggressive number pumpkin-spiced coffee beverages.
Given that I am in a minority with my opinion, however, I have grudgingly agreed this year to try and look past my inevitable sunburns and frizzy hair to find the silver lining. Thankfully, finding that silver lining didn't take long.
Through the rigorous scientific research of dockside bars and the backyards of friends who are lucky enough to have a waterfront view, I have learned that drinking beer outside, by the water, is awesome.
This may seem like an obvious "Duh!" to you guys, but the novelty of bayside beer drinking has not worn off for me yet. When we lived in the District, most of our bar-hopping adventures included picturesque views of asphalt, cab drivers honking at pedestrians and the occasional expletive-laden fender bender. You could get yourself a waterfront drinking view in southwest Washington, but that required taking a bus and two different Metro trains. Boo.
So in honor of my newfound, albeit limited, appreciation for hot weather, here are the four beers I will be enjoying this summer by the water:
La Folie by New Belgium — 7% ABV
Part of their Lips of Faith series, New Belgium's La Folie is a thirst-quenching sour brown ale, made in the Belgian tradition of the Flemish Oud Bruin style. Now, I know what you may be thinking. "Sour" typically has negative connotation, especially when it comes to food and drink. But when it comes to beer, "sour" often translates into "super delicious goodness."
La Folie in particular smells and tastes like black cherry with a hint of warm brown sugar. There's also a subtle note of oak, as this beer is barrel-aged for up to three years. Though tart, its effervescence and balanced tart/malt finish makes it perfect for hot days, as it packs a lot of flavor without being too cloying.
Dead Rise Old Bay Summer ale by Flying Dog — 5.6% ABV
It didn't take long for me to learn from my Annapolis-born, Eastern Shore-bred husband that Old Bay is the solution for almost all of the world's problems. So when Flying Dog announced the release party for their new Old Bay beer, Dead Rise, would be on our wedding anniversary, our Virginia road trip was immediately canceled, and we celebrated four years of wedded bliss at the Frederick-based brewery.
This beer is awesome for two reasons. First, it benefits the Maryland Department of Natural Resources "True Blue" initiative, which allows restaurants and other food establishments to show their support for local commercial crabbers by only serving Maryland crab meat. Factors Row downtown is a sterling example of a True Blue-certified restaurant. Second, this savory, spicy brew is what I like to call the perfect companion beer. It's good on its own, but it positively sings around the right food — Old Bay-crusted crabs, for example! It's not an Old Bay bomb, however, so if that's what you're looking for, you will be disappointed.
Enjoy By 07.04.14 by Stone Brewing Company — 9.4% ABV
Several times a year, California-based Stone Brewing Company shines a spotlight on the importance of fresh beer with their "Enjoy By" series. (As the name implies, it needs to be enjoyed by July 4 for maximum freshness.) Some consider the series to be a bit gimmicky, but I still think it's fun. The latest release of this imperial IPA recently hit shelves in Maryland, and some are calling it the best Enjoy By to-date.
Having already broken into one of my bottles, I can say hopheads will love this beer. It pours that classic yellow-orange hue with a large, pillow-y head. It's got a strong earthy, piney, resinous aroma, backed up by a clean, citrus taste that has a nice bitter finish. And if you have a chance to try it on draft at Lures Bar & Grille in Crownsville before the keg kicks, do.
Allagash White by Allagash Brewing Company — 5% ABV
I know some craft beer nerds might consider this to be a little too obvious, but I'm choosing to highlight the Allagash White because it's consistently a crowd favorite and for good reason. Rob Tod founded Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine, almost 20 years ago after realizing the American craft beer market was missing out on the classical Belgian styles he had come to love and cherish through his travels. And in 1995, Tod sold his first batch of beer — the Allagash White, a nod to the witbier, the traditional Belgian white.
Wheat, coriander and Curacao orange peel come together to create a lovely, warm flavor profile, but yet the beer is still bright, crisp and refreshing. In my experience, the Allagash White is perfect for those who are new to craft beer, because it has mass appeal without sacrificing quality.