Food & Drink

Summer Beers (Make Me Feel Fine)

Is it a preview if it’s 1 month into summer already? Doesn’t matter, let’s talk about beer

Dateline: Philadelphia, September 1787. After a long summer of contentious debates on the direction of a tenacious, fledgling nation, a consensus is finally met. The Constitution has been framed, and will be signed in just a few short days. With George Washington’s time in the City of Brotherly Love drawing to a close, admirers from the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry decide to throw one hell of a going away party for the man that dunked on the British  and would soon be their first president (imagine this but with powdered wigs & wooden teeth.) This is a thing that is historically documented (twice in one week!) and I’m proud to count it as part of our great nation’s history.

Smash cut to today, the weekend of the 4th of July. It is on us to pick up the mantle of our birthright, to gather together in ensembles that would make Betsy Ross flush with pride, and celebrate the sacrifices made and those to come. To toast futures and friends. And to eat barbecue. Lots of barbecue. But what should we drink? Each person at Washington’s party at least killed 2 bottles of wine each, plus various shots, porters, ciders, and cups of punch. Mind you, the punch they were drinking was probably pretty close to Artillery Punch, and Artillery Punch does not mess around (I can attest to this). However, this summer has been a hot one, this weekend is primed for some excellent pool time, and there’s only one drink that I want to reach for while I burn  tan: beer

So, with that being said, I decided I would come up with a list of summer beers out of Texas that can serve as some inspiration if you’re looking to branch out and try something new. Here’s the criteria I used when choosing these:

  1. Each beer had to be from Texas
  2. Each beer had to be a distinct style
  3. Each beer has to be available in cans, so they can be brought to beaches, rivers, & pools
  4. I tried to diversify regions as best as possible to make sure everybody would hopefully have access to at least one of the beers on the list
  5. These beers are all from breweries that are locally owned, and not by Belgians or Russians (sorry, Lone Star. Love your caps, though.)

The research was harrowing, but I was happy to make the sacrifice to bring you this: the Staking The Plains Summer Beer Preview. They follow in no particular order.

1) SAINT ARNOLD’S 5 O’CLOCK PILS, Pilsner, Houston

Brand new to the Saint Arnold’s line, this beer took me by complete surprise because I really do not like pilsners. However, as opposed to their Summer Pils which I find way too malty & “grain-y” for my taste, the 5 O’Clock is much crisper and lighter, as they reel back a bit on the pils malt and up the hops a bit more (note: this is not a hoppy beer, it just has a hint of citrus to it). If you love pilsners, give it a shot. If you don’t or you’ve never tried, this is a fantastic entry point to the style.

2) DEEP ELLUM NEATO BANDITO, Mexican Lager, Dallas

I love drinking Mexican lagers when it’s hot outside. I was lamenting this past winter this fact that it doesn’t seem to be a style that has caught on with craft brewers, but lo and behold I’ve found 3 of them this summer! Out of Colorado, Oskar Blues makes Beerito, and Ska makes Mexican Logger. But here in Texas, we can delight ourself in Deep Ellum’s Neato Bandito, which is a nice little twist on the style. As opposed to most Mexican lagers, the Bandito is actually a bit sweeter on the front, owing to as far as I can tell the addition of a bit more citrusy hops. However, the back has that same kind of lager crispness. I love this beer.

3) REAL ALE GOSE, Gose, Blanco

One of my absolute new favorite styles, goses are salty beers with a lime twang. Typically low ABV, an ice cold gose is a quintessential hot day beer, and I’m glad the style has come back from the dead as it was out of favor for an incredibly long amount of time. The Real Ale version started its life I believe as one of their one-off Anniversary beers (XVIII I think), and was so popular they brought it back as a seasonal release. I know a lot of people swear by Fireman’s 4, but I think this is the best non-special release beer they brew (their Mysterium Verum series is worth finding), and you’re missing out if you don’t pick this up when you can. Also, if you’re ever intrigued by sours, the gose style is a good way to dip your toe in, even if it’s not technically a sour.

4) BUFFALO BAYOU SUMMER WIT, Wit, Houston

A brewery that was typically known for it’s insane amount of beers for only being a few years old (it was definitely quantity over quality for awhile), Buffalo Bayou has really stepped its game up. The Summer Wit is a fantastic witbier made with hibiscus, coriander, and orange peel. The combination makes for a sweet, airy beer that’s pretty floral; it smells amazing. BONUS BEER: BB’s Sam’s Daily Cream Ale is another great session beer, and was invented to be a “Lone Star Killer” because they can release it at a low price point. Spoiler: they have not released it at that price point. But it’s still a good beer!

5) HOPS & GRAIN GREENHOUSE, IPA, Austin

The interesting thing about the Greenhouse series from Hops & Grain is that the style remains the same, but they’re constantly changing the ingredients. So a few varieties of hops may be used one month, then the next month they completely change them up with different varieties and proportions, changing the taste. Are there some misses? Sure. But overwhelmingly the results are delicious, and this one is well worth tracking down if you can get it.

6) SOUTHERN STAR SUMMER SAISON, Saison, Conroe

This farmhouse ale out of Southern Star is incredibly light and airy, kind of like the Summer Wit. However, the flavor is quite different (the absence of coriander can do that), and instead there’s a much more pronounced clove taste with a hint of bubblegum. Saisons are typically table beers, which means they’re meant to be lighter and easy to drink. This fits both bills, and can also be enjoyed at Southern Star’s brand new tasting room.

7) KARBACH STAYCATION, Session Beer, Houston

My #1 go-to pool beer last summer, you can literally drink this all day long and not get tired of it. A little bit of wheat, the subtlest hint of hops, this beer just spins my bow tie. I don’t really know what else to say about it, except that it tastes like what you want a beer to taste like. If you give it a shot, you’ll know what I mean.

So that’s our list of 2016 summer beers. If it looks light on Dallas beers, that’s because I have an incredibly hard time finding non-Deep Ellum canned Dallas beers here in Houston. Consider this an open thread to tell everybody what you’re drinking & eating this weekend/summer. Hell, tell us what you’re listening to this summer to help make soundtracks ( I suggest Carl Sagan by Night Moves).

So drink up, because as we learned in our history lesson above, we can truly say it’s what the founding fathers would want.

Happy 4th!

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