With the warm weather finally at hand, this is the time of year when I start to turn away from a heavy diet of stouts and porters and begin treating myself to beers of a lighter, more refreshing stripe. At the top of my list of summer beers are the pale ales. Crisp, light, refreshing and always seeming to have a twist of something citrus and bubbly.
This week I started to really see the summer seasonal brews seep into the market. What that means is there is sure to be a bunch of tasty pales packed with all the fruity and refreshing notes that make drinking ice cold beer in the hot summer sun all that much better.
Kicking off this week’s review is one you won’t be too hard-pressed to find if going to a beer store isn’t in the cards. Harpoon distributes up and down the entire East Coast, including New England and in Louisiana and Texas so chances are great you’ll be able to find this pretty tasty bottle of suds.
Right out of the bottle, you get smashed with a gust of mango and tropical fruits that, thankfully, translates into an equally fruity, tasty beverage. Although the mango and tropical fruits are loud and out front, the beer is by no means over sweet or Jolly Rancher-esque. The sweetness is cut by a dry hop punch that finishes sweet.
Another key subtlety to this beer is it’s light carbonation. There is just something about a slight fizz that makes beers like this all that much more enjoyable. It’s like drinking a sparkling mango lemonade that has just the right amount of sugar and sour.
I picked mine up in a six pack of bottles but this is also available on draft and in tall boys.
Citrusinensis Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing Company
If you are reading this in the not so near future. I am sorry but the beer you are reading about is no longer being brewed. As part of the 2016 “One Hitter Series,” this tasty bit of brewing magic is going to be gone before we know it so -after you read, like, share and follow this blog, of course- you should get up and go grab as many bottles as you can! I was only able to procure a single bottle but I will be looking for others for sure.
As soon as you crack the top on this bad boy, you are instantly hit with a citrusy gust from the bottle as this rather fizzy beers immediately starts to churn out its zesty esters. Pouring a clear, pale yellow with a very thin head, unless one were to read the label, blood orange would be the farthest thing from your mind. After a taste that all changes. You’re met up front by a nice pinch of citrus and hops before a smooth acidity washes over your tongue, bringing with it the blood orange juice pop the label advertises.
Unlike some pales that leave a dry, somewhat hoppy or malty taste this beer finishes just like a cold glass of lemonade. It leaves your mouth cleansed and tingly with the dry citrus tickle in the back of your throat. What’s also surprising about this beer is that, despite it’s heavy blood orange flavor and hop character, the taste is gone in an instant. No part of the blood orange flavor remains in your mouth no matter how big of a gulp you take. As soon as you swallow it, it’s gone. Which is convenient since after the first gulp is gone, you can take another and another until it’s time to get another bottle.
I really hope this sticks around throughout the summer. An inner tube, a Hawaiian shirt without the buttons and a coozie stuffed with a bottle of this sounds just about right when the sun is high and your time is free.
Loser Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
Brewery: Elysian Brewing
Where Citrusinensis offered a pale bursting with citrus zing and hops, Loser offers the complete polar opposite. Instead of sweet bitter citrus and floral hops, the backbone of this pale is found in a strong malt laced with a dry, hop bite.
Personally, I was disappointed with this beer. I picked it up having previously enjoyed Elysian’s Superfuzz, their summer seasonal which is also a blood orange pale. I wasn’t expecting a clone of Superfuzz but I was definitely expecting a more complex flavor than a malty pale with some hops.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm over this beer, the big thing I take away from it is that it serves an important purpose in this somewhat transitional style of beer in that it offers the opposite of what most of other breweries default to. So if you have tried the citrus packed numbers and aren’t a fan or just want to try something different, this is a great option. It’s still a nice, light bodied, easy drinking pale that will probably pair better with the grilled savory meats of summer than most other pale ales.
Come to think of it … I would boil off some brats in this stuff in a heartbeat. Hit them with a little dill relish and some spicy brown mustard. Oh, boy!
Style: American Pale Ale
Brewery: Maine Beer Company
Easily one of my overall top 10 favorite beers, Maine Beer Company’s MO is simply summer in a bottle.
Like Camp Wannamango, MO comes at you hard as soon as you open the bottle. Instead of tropical fruits, MO gives you a deep and complex mix of floral hops and citrus. When poured, it produces a dense white head that clings to the glass and laces well.
As you drink the beer, the heavy citrus and hops smell lends to an equally complex yet light and refreshing taste. The zesty hop smell actually gives little to no bitterness to the beer at all. Instead, it cuts through the citrus with a nice dry finish that wipes the pallet clean.
With it’s light yet complex taste, I’m looking forward to bagging a couple fish straight from the St. Lawrence and pairing this up with a good old fashion fish fry. The light flavors of the freshwater fish would go nicely with the equally light flavors of this truly amazing beer.
To find this beer, you may have to do a little searching. Although Maine Beer Company distributes in states all up and down the East Coast and toward the Midwest, chances are you’re not going to be able to find a bottle (yes a bottle, these beers don’t even come in six-packs) unless you go to a craft beer store and look there.
I hope you guys are enjoying what is shaping up to be a beautiful summer and thank you for taking the time to check in and see what I’ve been drinking lately. If you see any of these beers, please pick them up and try them. Summer is only as good as the beer you’re drinking so kick back, relax and try something new because no matter the name or container, it’s still just a beer.
I’m still up in the air about what next week is going to be so if you have any suggestions, please leave me a comment!