It is almost too easy to stock your own ‘fridge with great craft beer. Heck, even my local Ralphs has Stone Brewing Co. Sublimely Self-Righteous on sale. But with the BBQ and picnic season fast approaching, the craft beer geek is not always in charge of what is in the cooler.
Learn about some beers that aren’t awful watery swill and are therefore acceptable to drink and also tend to be offered on a regular basis by the yet-to-be-turned-to-the-craft-beer-side at summer get togethers.
Blue Moon Brewing Company’s Belgian White appears a lot because it is a lighter beer that isn’t loaded with too much fruit and it’s a good interpretation of the almost-lost-to-history beer style. [Hoegaarden is another in the Belgian White category.] It has a nice hit of orange and coriander but is reined in by the creaminess imparted from oats. You might also spy a Belgian Pale or Honey beer from Blue Moon (a subsidiary of Coors). All are decent alternatives.
Pilsner Urquell has been a classic pils for a long, long time. But as of late, the beer has taken a turn for the worse with reports of it being sped through production by their corporate overlords of SABMiller. But if your neighbor offers up a “lawnmower” beer, take it. There is a small amount of good craft examples but this is still a top pils.
Another foreign-born beer that magically appears at BBQs is Newcastle Brown. If you had this beer on tap in Newcastle then I am sure it is a fine, if light rendition of a brown ale. But in those clear bottles, the chances of getting a non-skunky beer are very low. So I would avoid them and drink something from American patriot Sam Adams if that is on offer because that is usually as highbrow as some summer coolers get.
Sometimes well meaning friends who have had to put up with beer rants from their beer geeky friends will stock the cooler with something craft and what usually appears is either Widmer Hefeweizen and Sierra Nevada, and if that happens then put your name on all of those and don’t let them out of your sight because in a lot of cases over the summer you are going to get a steady parade of Miller, Bud and Coors, and there is absolutely no reason to waste your time and taste buds on those beers.
The Beer of the Week is a saison from Brouwerij West, which comes in a distinctive red labeled bottle with a cat and a pinball machine. The brewery describes their “extra” saison as not, “the standard “peppery/spicy” saison profile and instead go after bubble gum esters and noble hop aroma. Extra is Bright and malty, with a firm bitterness and a dry finish.”
Your Homework this week is to reserve a spot for The Bottle Room 3rd Annual Local Brewery Collaborative beer pairing dinner which will be May 29th at 7 pm. Beers from Eagle Rock, The Bruery, Craftsman, Cismontane and Smog City pairing with five courses from the kitchen of Tony Alcazar. This event will be well worth the drive to Whittier and the $65 ticket price.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.