I recently went on a trip to Cedar City Utah, where I spent four days in sunny, summer-like weather. I even got a bit of a sunburn when I forgot to re-apply my sunscreen on the second day. So my dismay upon returning to the Manchester, NH airport in a downpour only increased when I realized that the chilly rains were going to stick around for days instead of hours.
I returned home and opened my fridge to see if there was anything there that could lift my spirits a bit for the upcoming week of pervasive gloom. I spied a bottle that I had picked up the week before – Somerville Brewing Company’s Happy Sol – and thought it would be a good start.
This beer has the base of a hefeweizen, and then has local honey from Massachusetts, orange peel and coriander. The beer is then fermented with the blood orange juice to give it its distinct flavor.
When I did a little research on the beer, I came across a blog entry on the brewery’s website describing the inspiration and the process of brewing this beer. It started with a visit to La Vigne Organics in California, where after touring and talking with the farmers about the ecosystem-based methods (completely pesticide, fungicide free) that the blood oranges stuck in their minds.
“As part of the dozens of pilot batches for this beer we tried many different types of citrus but always came back to the blood orange as adding the right amount of tartness and a distinctive flavor that sets it apart from other hefeweizens.”
When I poured it into my glass, the aroma of the oranges immediately brightened my mood. It poured a bright cloudy orange color and just looked warm and inviting.
The taste, too, brought me right out of the rainy gloom. There’s quite a bit of orange here – but not the overwhelmingly sweet kind – more of a assertive but balanced backbone. The hefeweizen characteristics – namely the banana like flavors and the coriander – play an important role here, too. What happens when I drink this is that I take a sip and immediately want to go back for another to let the sunny flavors wash over me. There’s just something that pulls you towards another refreshing yet slightly fruity sip.
Happy Sol isn’t a “fruit beer” by any means, but rather a hefeweizen enhanced by some fresh and interesting ingredients. I’m not sure if I can pick up the flavors that the honey brings to the picture, but it may just help all of the other flavors to harmonize a little bit.
Somerville Brewing Company (AKA “Slumbrew”) beers have been available in bottles for several months, and I hear that they are going to start showing up on draught in the state soon. I hope that if you see this little ray of sunshine in a bar or at a beer store you might give it a try and let the sun shine in.