When I think of ginger, I usually think of two things. First, the little paper wrapped candies you can pick up at Trader Joe’s that are equal parts addicting and mouth-burning. Second, the strange yet ever-present pink stuff on the side of sushi plates. I don’t normally immediately think of beer. [Read more…]
Tag: Summer beer (Page 1 of 2)
As a craft beer drinker, I am always on the look out for the new, the novel, the hard-to-find. Sometimes, I forget that there are beers available that have been around a while and just work, no questions asked. When they are made by bigger brewers or show up on the shelf at the supermarket, it’s easy for me to find reasons to pass them by for the next newest release. While doing some beer and cheese tastings, I picked up a few lighter beers to use for research, and three of them gave me pause because they were just what I was looking for – but on an average day I might not have stopped to try them at all.
This past weekend, Sebago Brewing Company hosted a group of fifty beer bloggers and writers as part of a Beer Blogger’s Conference taking part in Portland and Boston, MA. Sebago Brewing sponsored a well-organized and impressive beer pairing event, to the delight of bloggers. The last pairing in the lineup was a surprise, as it came with Sebago’s new seasonal release the Bonfire Rye. Not officially released until the beginning of August, this beer was given to us as a sneak peek before being released to the public.
The label – which I assume is an example of the look and feel of the redesign – has a bonfire graphic element laid upon an edited photo of several friends sitting down in front of a bonfire behind that, an iconic summer scene. Well done.
It pours a dark copper, with a red undertone, with the color of the beer complemented by the new bottle labels. The aroma is of slightly spicy hops, but without a citrus or grassy feeling. It is very inviting, and not at all intimidating from a hoppiness perspective.
The taste struck me right away as something different than Sebago had brewed previously, as well as something different from other seasonals available in Maine. It is definitely a beer full of flavor, but somehow it is executed in a very balanced package. In addition there is an earthiness to it that comes in towards the end of the pleasantly-balanced hop profile that just adds a final complement to the flavor.
Described by owner Kai Adams as a beer that could “bridge” the seasons of summer and fall – this one is neither too sweet nor too earthy to be inappropriate for either season. One could imagine that it would even work in winter. At 5.7% ABV, this is also one that could go with – as suggested – friends and a bonfire, without worrying too much about things getting out of hand.
Bonfire Rye will officially be released on August 1st, and will be celebrated by a patio party at each of the Sebago Brewing locations starting at 4pm. This is a great chance to see the new face of Sebago, as well as to sample the town’s newest brew.
While you’re there, check out this year’s Hop Swap – a beer that changes its hop profile each year and is built on a malt base that stays the same. Hop Swap impressed me this year, and I greatly prefer it to last year’s which was a little bit thin, but still packed with hop flavor.
Many craft brewers have acknowledged the role that seasons play in the styles of beer that they brew, and summer is no exception. With the increase of the number of brands and individual beers available, I have been remiss in keeping up with all of the options available for summer beer enjoyment – and Peak Summer Session is one that I recently tried that is worth adding to your list.
Peak, like many other breweries, has several beers that they release only seasonally, and their summer beer is named, simply, “Summer Session Ale.”
Session beer is described as beer that is low in alcohol (though definitions vary, typically under 4.5% ABV), and thus you can safely have more than one in a “session” of beer drinking. While this beer comes in at 5% ABV, it is still low enough in alcohol to fit the idea of a session beer.
Peak Summer Session is described as a “summer wheat beer that marries a West Coast pale ale.” It contains locally grown wheat, and is dry hopped with Amarillo hops – not a typical combination. The beer is a clear but slightly golden color, and pours out beautifully.
The aroma of this beer delivers the hop’s citrus character without apology. I found myself double-checking whether lemon was an added ingredient or not – it wasn’t.
The taste is a very interesting combination that works. There is a lot of the wheat character to the body of this beer. The sweetness carries through, and then the citrus and lemony attributes come back at the back end. The best part is that it is simply refreshing, completely hitting the spot on a hot day, in a back yard, or while watching (hopefully legal) fireworks while at camp.
Tasting this made me wonder how many other summer beers I might have missed lately. When a lot of things are being released in large-format bottles, it is easy to miss some excellent beers sitting on the shelf in a six pack. I encourage you to seek out a few of these beers – there might be some gems right under your nose.