Alternative Summer Beers

A recent sip or two of Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour Ale pushed me back toward this in-the-back-of-my-mind idea of alternative summer beers.

For a guy like me so fond of the dark stuff, is it necessary for me to scale all the way back to “appropriate” summer beers like a wit or hefeweizen? Or Kolsch or Pilsner for that matter? Those beers certainly are tasty and refreshing on a hot summer day, but this year I brewed 10 gallons of Belgian wit, and I’m here to tell you: I’m sick of it. What’s going to take its place when the keg kicks? Milk Stout! Clearly, I’m not a very good sheep.

In the cold months, it’s all wee heavy, doppelbock, barley wine, old ale, Belgian dark strong and Russian imperial stout. If those are the flavors I like, why can’t I simply keep the flavors and scale back a little on body and alcohol? We don’t stop drinking coffee in the summer do we? We just ice it down. With all this in mind, I’ve come up with a short list of styles I think are perfect for summer–alternative stylie.

Not long ago, Joe Sixpack was thinking along the same lines, though he spoke more to the idea of extreme beers. To go a step further, or less far, perhaps, I’d chime in that maltiness and roastiness (with a splash of the sourness) aren’t wrong for the summer–at least not for me. I can’t be alone. On the idea of a Berliner Weiss, I see we were thinking along the same lines (I keg mine tonight).

So in the words of Otis Day, “Here ’tis:”

1. Porter: Flag and Duck-Rabbit are two of my favorites.

2. Scottish Ale: a few weeks back, I found Three Floyds’ Robert the Bruce right satisfying.

3. American Brown: a pleasant blend of malt interest and hop action, great when grilling.

4. Flanders Red: tart, refreshing and smile-inducing

5. Saison: actually, this is a summer beer–proof that I’m not trying to be oppositional. Just don’t forget about this nugget when inundated by the usual summer suspects.

6. Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch: just give me an IV, year-round



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