Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Beers 3: Peak Organic Summer Session Ale

It's been GORGEOUS in DC the last couple of days - low to mid 80s, very low humidity, nice breeze. Not your typical mid-June weather by any stretch.  Knowing that the typical summer days in DC, by and large, SUCK from a weather perspective, it really makes you appreciate when the days are this nice.

That being said, "regular summer" is coming in tomorrow with a vengeance - by Friday, the heat index is supposed to be around 110 degrees.  I don't care if you're one of these freaks that says "I like it hot" - that's a bit much.  That kind of heat calls for strategic beer drinking - and you should always, ALWAYS be strategic when it comes to beer drinking. #lifetips

Peak Organic Summer Session Ale touts itself as...well, a summer session ale.  The exact meaning of the term "session" is highly debated in beer drinking circles, but in general a session beer is considered a beer that comes in at 5% ABV or less, and that you can drink a number of in a finite period of time with only a small risk of falling off a cliff.  So a beer named a "summer session ale" is putting a proverbial stake in the ground regarding its place in your strategic drinking plan.

Peak Organic Summer Session Ale

Fortunately, the beer largely delivers on the expectations it sets.  The head is a fluffy white with small, tightly packed bubbles.  Clocking in at 5% ABV, it is right in the session beer wheelhouse, and it tastes like it - this beer is very quaffable, with a very light bitterness and a refreshing fruity hoppiness from the Amarillo hops used to dry hop the beer.  This is not a game changer on the summer beer front - rather it's a solid entry into the category of "tasty beers I would enjoy drinking on a hot summer day."  That's not a bad place to be, strategically.

Rating: 3 heat strokes out of 5

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Beers 2: Orange Blossom Cream Ale

Soldiering on in my quest to find some of the best options for summer beer fare, I cracked open a Orange Blossom Cream Ale by Buffalo Bill's Brewery out of Hayward, CA.  I was never a huge fan of cream ales - my only exposure had been to Genesee Cream Ale, and, while some people really like that beer, I was not one of them.  Tasted like just another thin macrobrew to me.  Then I brewed a cream ale about a month ago - revelation!  It delivered on all the right points for me - actual creamy head, light but flavorful, refreshing, and low enough in ABV (around 4.5% - this clocks in at 5.2%) that you could have three or four after mowing the lawn without getting all loopy.  So was looking forward to trying this one - sweet orange peel and honey additions promised a creamy, flavorful and fruity brew.

It was - OK.  May have been overly chilled to start, because I didn't catch any of the orange flavor.  The head was thinner and less creamy than I had hoped (bubbles were pretty big compared to the homebrew I made), and the carbonation was pretty high, keeping its quaffability index on the low side (yo, patent on the "quaffability index" is pending - step off).  Color was a hazy, orangey deep gold.  Once it warmed a little, the orange started to come through, and it was very dry (something which is typical to beers with honey additions).  The slight bitterness cut through any sweetness that might have come from the orange.  Overall, a decent fruit beer.  Just didn't live up to my (possibly inflated) expectations.

Orange Blossom Cream Ale

So while this is a pleasant beer with some interesting flavors, it doesn't really live up to the cream ale style's telltale characteristics.  Would certainly drink it at a party or share with friends, but wouldn't go out of my way to find it.

Rating:  3 vats of sunscreen out of 5

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer time is here, let's have a can of beer!

Summer time is upon us. Here in DC, that means it is very much like throwing a steaming wet rag in your face and going for a ten mile run.  Up hill.  Through a swamp.  On the good days.  Which makes summer seasonal beers even more delicious - nothing tastes better after mowing the lawn, hanging out in the heat by the pool, or while wondering when the hell Pepco is going to fix the power so you can turn the AC back on than a refreshing, zingy summer ale or lager.  The next few posts will be about those beers - I grabbed a bunch of different seasonal beers (or beers I thought would go well with the season) at the local Total Wine to see which ones meet my pedestrian standards for what I want out of a summer beer.

The first beer I tried in this rotation was an Anchor Summer beer, a wheat ale from the esteemed Anchor Brewing in San Francisco.  I am a fan of Anchor's beers - their Steam, is, of course, terrific, and I really enjoy their Porter.  Amazingly, I had never had their Summer, even though they started brewing it in 1984 (according to their web site, it was the first wheat beer brewed in America post-Prohibition).  So I'm slack - this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me.  I was looking forward to this one.

Anchor Summer Beer

Unfortunately, I came away disappointed - although the color was a gorgeous, clean amber-gold, the head was very thin.  This in spite of the fact the bottle promised a head similar to "whipped egg whites."  I've screwed up a meringue before - the head on this was very similar.  And the taste was just - nothing special.  Slight hop bitterness, and had a clean mouth feel (it clocks in at 4.5%).  But it just wasn't something I would go out of my way to have again.  And since Anchor beers here on the East coast tend to run on the high side price-wise, I'll look to other ports to quench my stormy thirst (that was the best anchor metaphor I could come up with - you see why I don't do this for a living).

Rating:  2 sunburns out of 5