Into Shelley’s Belly: 8 Great Summer Beers

photo by Matthew Shelley
photo by Matthew Shelley

As summer heat swiftly approaches (and the grueling hours you spent in your ab roller finally come to fruition), it’s time to give your body something besides anger and frustration to sweat out under the hot Texas sun. Whether it’s beside the pool, near the grill, or just relaxing your beautifully toned body on a patio, you will need to include some beer. Beer makes for great sweat, and in case you didn’t know, it also provides companionship on lonely nights, works well as a lubricator (for anything), and can be used to win wars. So with all the seasonal shifts that take place under the umbrella of brewery madness, summer time is one of the best for exciting and pleasant offerings from the craft beer world. I went through 7 beers of the summer nature to forward my findings into your brain. Prepare to get uncomfortable.

Summer beers are meant to be light and complement increasing temperatures. This makes those thick, syrupy stouts and other heavily dense and bitter beers impossible during the 9 months that Texas weather climbs over 90. That’s not true, but I’ve started sweating lately just stepping out on my balcony at sunrise. It’s crazy out there. So I’ve selected some very crafty summer beers with help from the fabulous Linda at Whole Foods, and I think we found some winners. We also found some that do not win.

Jump for the list.

1. Anderson Valley Summer Solstice

This beer comes in a can, which is the greatest for summer. I love packing my goodies away for a pool party and having cans to pop open, letting out a little of the suds onto my fingers and then smashing the can on my face like the Hulk when I finish. I digress. This beer is toasty and creamy, mildly spiced with a friendly sweetness on the finish. There is a pop of refreshing carbonation for those warm summer nights while you masquerade as a smooth criminal selling your best macho man to Sally-two-Shoes on the tailgate behind her daddy’s cabin. It coated the top of my mouth with a silky lightness that echoed in the caramel finale. This is not a citrusy summer ale, and it a delight to drink.

2. Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale

This has more spicy carbonation than the solstice with a very rusty, bright taste. It finishes like an American Lager, which will comfort many with familiarity. This beer lingers slowly around the back entrance. It’s punchy on the take and the aroma is magnificent. It’s got a warm and subtle citrus with a grassiness and almost cedar smokiness. Deschutes, like they do, nailed it.

3. Magic Hat Elder Betty

This is a bit more daring in its flavor profile, and I’m still not sure if I like it or not. I love elderberry syrup, though. It’s a wonderful flu medicine and all-around cold-killing bada##. Elderberry syrup itself tastes like a milder, sweeter Robitussin, and it takes some getting used to. The beer has a cream soda scent. It’s wheaty and smells of berries and sugar with a hint of ammonia. The initial taste is grassy and reminiscent of barnyard hay. It’s very easy on the hops, and the chamomile enters quietly. The finish is slightly chalky, and like I said, it’s a strange brew, but grows on you like an Alaskan dirt gnome after a strong spring harvest.

4. Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale

I had to include a brown ale, and I had to include something from Brooklyn Brewery. Brown ale’s sweetness and smoky resin flavors make summer nights arrest themselves before the fire pit and send somniferous spells over the eyes. Also, Brooklyn Brewery owns. This beer is good. It’s got a smoky, roasted nuttiness with aggressive carbonation. The mouth feel is fine, but in all honesty, I would swap this out with the Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale. That beer has a much more balanced sweetness. It’s bright and becoming, and makes for a fantastic, brown sugar poolside companion.

5. Avery White Rascal

This is a conversion beer. That is, anyone who thinks they don’t care for craft beer, like my saucy sister-in-law or my Bud Light-only uncle, will find themselves taken aback by this lovely witbier. It has a masked citrusy sweetness, tailored by orange and coriander notes. It also possesses a wonderful Saison grassiness and hay bale brightness in the mouth. Again, this mother is wonderful straight from the can. It’s light, bright, and full of might. No, don’t read that last line.

6.      Founders Centennial IPA

This dynamic IPA brings about one’s oh-face almost immediately. It’s one of the most highly rated IPA’s in all the provinces of beerderdom, and rightfully so. It’s an excellent balance of hops, malts and downright craft hard-assery. It’s got sweetness, bitterness, and an all-around robust presence. This is one amazing IPA with superb drinkability, and summertime sure do love IPA.

7.      Crazy Mountain Lava Lake Wit

This again is an easy drinker and well paired with summer. It’s nothing overly exciting, but presents some nice notes of fruit and spice. My skirt remained in place.

This is by no means a definitive list of summer beers, just a taste. There are so many more amazing summer ales available and even some locally sourced beauties. I decided to focus on American Craft summer ales outside of our city, but I would love to know what else is worth trying. In fact, there may have to be a part 2, 3 and 4 of this post. If I had to add to the list right now, I would first include the best summer beer ever made. It’s called Allagash White and it’s almost perfect. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find around here these days, which makes my whole body weep. If you find it, don’t tell me, for I am not certain of what I might do. Lastly, I learned in my drinking that the whole sweating thing I mentioned earlier is almost a requirement for enjoying more than four summer beers. I will leave you now, but I hope we can come together and enjoy some summer beer inside a giant hot tub filled with ramen noodles and shameless abandon. Stay upright.