Your summer beer is stale, buddy
Time to change it out for a style with more punch
Liven up your beer menu with these three bottles. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune / June 18, 2010)
Nothing against the wheat beers of the world, but this summer, we're not giving up massive flavor. While we are sticking with reasonably lighter-bodied beers — because who wants to be weighed down by a barrel-aged stout or imperial India pale ale in the teeth of the heat? — we're also going bold.
Here are three styles that will keep us satiated all summer long by not weighing us down, but packing a flavorful punch.
Belgian IPA: Yes, we denigrated imperial IPAs as a summer beer a mere two paragraphs ago. But this increasingly popular style cleans up the weightiness of the hops and adds a thirst-quenching brightness with the yeasty Belgian character. Several breweries have taken a stab at this style, but my favorite so far is Great Divide Brewing's Belgica. Many Belgian IPAs don't have the guts to truly split the difference between being a traditional Belgian and an IPA. Belgica does it.
Black lager: A beer you can't see through in the middle of the summer? When it is a black lager, you bet. Many breweries save their black lagers for a winter seasonal, but a few have caught on that these make fine year-round beers. Port Brewing's Midnight Sessions Lager has a brilliantly medium-weight body, but dark, toasty, tobacco-like character. Would go great with some fresh-from-the-grill barbecue while retaining a reasonable lightness.
Sour beer: A wood-aged sour beer might not sound so refreshing, but New Belgium's Eric's Ale is just that. This pleasantly tart ale offers hints of summer from the added-in peach juice. Drinkable, tasty, and on a warm day, refreshing.