Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Yes, summer is a time to sip kolsches and pilsners and Mexican lagers and appreciate just how refreshing and well-made a lighter beer can be. But that doesn't mean that skilled artisans can't concoct uniquely warmer-weather-worthy beverages that come with just as much complexity as any indulgence you'd stand in line for at the Great American Beer Festival.
With that, then, here are five beers on shelves this season - some recurring favorites, others new introductions to the Colorado craft-beer canon - that should be discovered before we need to start wearing sweatshirts again.
1) Ratio Beerworks New Wave
The Strawberry Berlinerweisse has progressed from a pleasant summer diversion to one of the best beers made in Colorado, period. It comes on with just enough of a tinge to let you know that the Denver brewery has perfected the art of sour mashing, but you are struck most by the seamless blending of big fruit and a body that draws out the berry's acidity without pounding it too much.
2) Funkwerks Raspberry Provincial
Not quite a sour, this juicy and slightly tart offering is the embodiment of a fruit beer that doesn't feel at all like a starter beer and that won't disappoint you if you are looking for a complex flavor in a simple body. The fact it's migrated from a summer seasonal to a year-round selection doesn't change the fact that it's best sipped by the pool (as the above picture of my son demonstrates).
3) Call to Arms Old Old Wooden Ship
If there is such a thing as a summer sour, this is it. Just tart enough to poke your taste buds, but not heavy enough to leave any burn on your palate, this port-barrel-aged sour saison is heavy with the flavor of stone fruit and is likely to appeal even to people who shy from sour beers. Bonus: The limited-edition beer goes on sale at the brewery on June 14 at 3 p.m.
4) Epic Oak and Orchard - Strawberry and Rhubarb
This Denver brewery's evolving line of barrel-aging beauties hits a particularly summer note with a quite-tart offering whose acidity is offset for the most part by a flavor that truly brings to mind the filling of a pie you share at a picnic table. If the first taste is aggressive, the nose is more one of juice, and the sour ale settles down, evoking pre-alcohol memories even as it dazzles your taste buds.
5) Left Hand Peach Beerllini Radler
A new summer offering, this comes across more as a peach champagne drink at first, imbued heavily in the fruit flavor and possessing a bubbly but not over-carbonated body. But this isn't just a guilty pleasure drink; it's a tightly crafted burst of freshness with a surprising back bite of dryness. It may look hoity-toity in a flute glass, but you won't feel guilty enjoying it.