Summer beers are blooming

Summer’s a great time for beer – I don’t know if I drink more beer in summer, but I seem to drink it more often. I live halfway up a mountain, and so I deserve a beer at the end of the working day. (What? Well, yes, I do work from home. What’s your point?)

Lagers, pilsners, golden ales and wheat beers all make great summer drinking. I’m a pilsner fan year-round, but I’ve become a golden ale fan over the past couple of summers. Golden ale is the thinking-drinkers’ lager – it has the clean fermentation and pale malts, but ale yeasts can add an extra bit of fruitiness and depth of flavour.

That yeast-produced fruitiness can combine very well with some local hops, especially the distinctive Sauvin with its sauvignon blanc-like passion fruit tones. This hop seems to polarise brewers. Some love it, some avoid it, and some say they find it a challenge. It is a distinctive hop, and generated comment this year over differences with last year’s vintage.

Last summer my go-to beer was Three Boys Golden Ale. It’s back this year, and the challenging characteristics of the Sauvin hop were certainly apparent in the earliest batches. I commented on some sweaty aroma notes, and I’m pleased to say these are greatly subdued now as the hop characteristics mature.

I was at Three Boys brewery last week and the Golden Ale is tasting very fresh and ready to go. It was good to see many tanks of maturing Golden Ale, and I plan to help empty them over summer. Compare it with Twisted Hop’s Sauvin Pilsner, another take on the Sauvin hop, and made by Twisted’s brewer at Three Boy’s brewery.

Three Boys’ Wheat Beer is also tasting very fresh and drinkable. Like traditional recipes, Three Boys use coriander spices but the trad orange peel is replaced by lemon peel for extra zest. Brewer Ralph Bungard told me he has had to experiment to prevent lemon oils attacking the head, and whatever he does is working, as the samples I’ve tried have the full, foamy white head and vigorous carbonation you expect from the style.

Harrington’s produce an unbelievably wide range with more than 20 beers and a few ciders and RTDs. When it comes to summer beers, Harrington’s panoramic range includes eight lagers and pilsners, one wheat beer, one flavoured summer lager and a couple of ciders.

I have enjoyed Rogue Hop Pilsner many times in the past – it’s at the hoppy end of the spectrum for pilsners, but not right out there with Tuatara Pilsner. Harrington’s Strongman Lager (it’s 6.5% ABV) was a new one to me, and it’s another one to exploit that summery Sauvin hop. It has noticeable balancing malts, rather than being dominated by the hop, and this gentle maltiness is a bit of a Harrington’s characteristic. Strongman won gold at this year’s Australian International Beer Awards.

Roosters Summer Ale was another favourite last summer, and now it is back on tap at Regional Wines. It’s hoppy, it’s clean and fresh, and it is ridiculously cheap for a craft beer. Try it.

Coopers Sparkling Ale has also been turning up on tap here in Wellington, both at Regional Wines and in D4. This was the very beer that put me onto craft beer when I moved to Sydney in 1989. After student years with DB and Lion jugs, this was a true revelation. Cloudy, pale, well-carbonated and with fruity ale notes, this one still tastes good to me.

Do your beer drinking tastes change as the days get longer? What’s your summery beer summary?

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©Martin Craig, 2010. Reproduction with permission only.
martin@nzbeerblog.com



One Response to “Summer beers are blooming”

  1. I know its nick name is Rooters but really it is Roosters.

    Reply

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