With temperatures above 90 degrees, now seems like a good time to discuss options from our beer aisles for the summer beer season. Here are three selections that give craft beer drinkers some variety not only in flavor but also in packaging.
“Refreshing” is always one of the buzzwords when talking summer options. However, you also need a beer that is flavorful and light and able to quench your thirst. That is all you need for the onset of summer. And a little sunscreen couldn’t hurt either.
Let me first state that I am a big fan of ginger. Its unique citrus character is the foundation for many of my favorite Asian-themed dishes I cook at home.
But would I want to drink it? As hypothetical questions go, I would be wary of that one as it sounds more like a dare. But now, a new ginger beer is in our market and to enjoy it isn’t much of a challenge.
A few years ago, there was a rise in what I call “old time” sodas; sarsaparilla, birch beer and ginger beer. That experience was nearly enough to put me off for keeps. These beverages were based on that old time western theme, because when I think of the old west, naturally my mind defers to their understanding of refreshing soft drinks.
The problem for me is that ginger beer has a great opening, but then kind of goes off the rails. The start is a big citrusy explosion, right on schedule. However, on that mid-palate, it gets very spicy and peppery. It’s a big piquant bite that only makes me purse my lips and shake my head. It isn’t just spicy, it becomes almost hot. It’s something I just can’t get my head around. That was it. I was done with ginger beers. Or so I thought….
It might be a contradiction in terms to advise someone to hurry up and savor something. However, if I find myself behind that person in line somewhere, I might be singing a different tune.
This sense of urgency can be traced back to a specific beer, its unique character and its suddenly abrupt and unwelcome departure.
The beers from Scandinavia never cease to engage and inspire me. From the complexity of the grain profile in their stouts and porters, to the chewy richness of their malts or the tongue-lashing brightness in their choice of hops. They always keep me interested. We have a small section for these beers and I can often be found going on to no end about the region and their offerings with customers I meet in the aisle until they finally say, “Yes, that is very interesting, but I was just looking for a Pinot Noir.”
The Norwegian Brewery Nøgne-ø is a magnificent example of what is being exported from that region. They have been producing some of the more interesting and ambitious beers in the craft world for years now. Their Imperial Dunkel Wit wowed me when I had it for the first time a few months back. It was so complex with a barrage of ever changing flavors. I was floored by it and just couldn’t shake it the memory. So I did what most beer managers would do, I bought as much as I could find so I could preach the gospel and hand sell it to my customers.