Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer Beers 2010: The Pure Refreshers

The Beer Geekette yelled at me the other day about something I've posted and talked much about since. When I explained that Avery's hop-forward Joe's American Pilsner was my favorite summer beer in recent memory, she asked: "Can't you just enjoy something that isn't hopped, sour or amazingly strong?"

I thought about it, and the answer, truthfully, was "no." For the most part, a good beer should be like a good movie: Stacked with layers of complexity, throwing in a few surprises around selected turns and leaving an impression well after you've finished it. But then I began thinking that maybe a good beer sometimes could just be like a quality comedy: Pleasing without being challenging, satisfying without being sharp. And that's when I thought about a whole new breed of summer beers.

There are certain beverages out there made for the hot and sticky season that go down easy and leave you with a smile on your face. And to a few of them this column is dedicated - the lighter beers made with just enough heft to keep them interesting but still appealing to everyone.

1) Manana - Del Norte Brewing
No beer captures the enjoyment of the much belittled Mexican lager style more than this creation from Colorado's only all Mexican-style brewer. As an amber lager, it fills the mouth with a malty, slightly caramel feel but backs it with a smooth and deceptively easy body. Most beers shipped north from south of the border can only wish they were this enjoyable.

2) Newcastle Summer Ale
The wet-rope taste that defines the most mediocre English beers is gone from this creation, replaced by a citrus hop zing that is terribly easy on the mouth but tasty enough to maintain interest. It carries a slight more copper hue than many of its summer brethren, and the color reflects a commitment to more flavor than many breweries' summer renditions.

3) SummerBright Ale - Breckenridge Brewery
Poured with a hazy gold consistency and minimal head, the light citrus aroma in this seasonal from the Denver brewer belies a pleasant body. What you have is a slightly dusty but very refreshing golden ale with a background hint of lime that splashes up its personality just enough. This is a beer that cools you without challenging you, a summer edition that really should be sipped at a grill or after mowing the lawn.

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