Bottle and Tap: 3 easy-drinking craft brews for summer 

click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo

It’s been pretty nice in SA of late, but there’s no fooling the natives. Texas weather may fluctuate by the minute, but those batrillion-degree summers invariably begin in May and burn on until Thanksgiving (at least). Breweries know it, too, rolling out enough saison and weissbier barrels to keep your backyard ‘cue/Guadalupe float from going dry. It’s a given that SA will down enough Bud Light and Shiner Bock this summer to replenish Canyon Lake, so we’re turning our attention to three more unique beers that stand to see you through the next season and a half.

Victory Brewing makes its intentions obvious with its seasonal offering. Brewed by request of Philadelphia’s tourism organization Visit Philly, the Summer Love Ale purports to capture everything awesome about summertime in that particular city. This beer is labeled a golden ale, but the inclusion of three different varietals of hops places Summer Love somewhere closer to session IPA territory. Though there is some lemongrass (and, unfortunately, something akin to strawberry fruit snacks) in the aroma, Summer Love smells like there are still little flecks of Tettnang hops hanging around in the glass. Grapefruit and lemon are apparent at first sip, giving way to a seriously herbaceous quality that brings to mind several middle school summers spent mowing the grass. Like any passable summer ale, it goes down easy, but the lingering yard clipping flavor and overall chalkiness of the finish suggests this beer is best paired with a cheesesteak to really foster some brotherly love.

Looking closer to home, a six-pack of Real Ale’s Four Squared is my ideal for a lazy float along the river or a languid afternoon of shooting the breeze on the back porch. A blonde ale also, Four Squared levels up on Real Ale’s recipe for their trusty Fireman’s No. 4 recipe with some additional dry-hopping and a heftier helping of malted barley. Thus fortified, the Four Squared boasts a bready body and a hoppy overlay that balances the ale rather than utterly overpowering it.

Despite all this golden estival goodness, there are those stout stalwarts who keep the fridge stocked with the heavy stuff year-round—reflective, perhaps, of their devotion to all things Scandinavian, bleak and frostbitten. For such mead-mongers, III Floyds, Surly and Real Ale’s collaborative effort Blakkr Imperial Black Ale earns its hails immediately. Not for nothing does this beer have an Amon Amarth song for its promotional video—it’s profoundly dark and deceptively heavy (9 percent ABV). Despite the opportunity for palatal brutality, Blakkr goes down easy. It recalls nothing so much as Sierra Nevada’s Wet Hop Ale in corpsepaint—a piney, hoppy bite yields to a surprisingly creamy, dark-fruit-and-licorice mid-point before ending, like the best Darkthrone songs, in bitterness.

Better still–these brews are widely distributed and can be found at Central Market, area HEBs and Spec’s.

More by Lance Higdon

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