CHRIS DROSNER For the State Journal
I put on shorts today for the first time this year.
I mean, not today, but as I write this, my knees are enjoying their first sunshine of this miserable “spring”.
Fortunately, the summer beers are already here.
Beer has many ways to quench a seasonal thirst, of course, but one proven formula for craft brewers to differentiate themselves from traditional light ales is to infuse fruit into a light, refreshing, low ABV beer. .
And why wouldn’t a brewer use sour beer as the base for these thirst quenchers? Beers like these have a long history of fruit and other culinary additions dating back to the 19th century and early modern Berlin weisses, which were often infused with raspberry or woodruff syrup.
Today, most sour beers in general – and almost all geared towards summer drinkers – are made using the faster and cleaner kettle souring technique compared to traditional processes that result in sour beers. more funky and earthy traditional ones like lambic and red from Flanders.
People also read…
Sour kettle beers end up with lactic acid and its clean, clear acidity, but none of the more complex characters that define the beers Wisconsin drinkers know like Funk Factory and New York’s “fruit cave.” Glarus.
Pairing this style with fruit – especially fruit that has its own little twist – is a winning formula, and perhaps nowhere more than with Revolution Brewing’s Freedom Lemonade.
It is part of the Chicago brewery’s series of excellent “session sours”, i.e. low ABV, which pairs fruit with a light sour lager. They bear the name of constitutional rights: freedom of expression (fishing), of the press (blackcurrant), of expression (strawberry-rhubarb) and of assembly (blueberry-ginger).
Freedom Lemonade, however, breaks the type in more than the name. As the name suggests, it also uses cane sugar.
After running through my first six-pack of Freedom Lemonade late last summer, I couldn’t wait for the warm weather to return so I could drink it at the lake or the pool or some other alignment of water and heat.
Freedom Lemonade’s sweet, citric aroma is as bright as the solstice sun, and the beer also shimmers on the palate, with a sweet, slightly tart lemon that cleans up nicely in the dry finish. It really drinks like lemonade. And that’s 4.5% ABV. Here, my friends, is the recipe for a refreshing seasonal beer.
Here are some other fruity sours that are readily available in cans at ABV and priced comfortably for those extended summer sessions.
Surly Grapefruit Supreme
My favorite shandy/radler is the feather-light Stiegl Radler, which rolls out the grapefruit to great effect. This summer, Surly Brewing in Minneapolis is a worthy rival.
The 4.5% ABV Grapefruit Supreme has the lightest body of the beers featured here, and it’s also smooth – a rare trait in sour beers because the acid that gives them their tartness also tends to erode the head.
Its fruit is at the center of the aroma – a moderately sweet, non-bitter version of grapefruit – but it’s very well rounded on the palate: slightly tart, moderately grapefruity, fully fragrant and deliciously crushable.
3 Sheep Full Spectrum
The fruit takes on a luscious and tropical direction in this tangy, with mango and cara cara orange with pink flesh.
Full Spectrum has existed in a few different fruit iterations, and for this summer’s release, the team at Sheboygan increased the acidity of the base beer to what I would consider a moderate level.
It’s at the forefront of a relatively understated flavor profile for a sound as exotic as its fruit. The 4.8% ABV Full Spectrum isn’t particularly sweet and even has a moderately bitter finish, a zig where many of these beers zag.
Juicy peach from Leinenkugel
Leinie’s is still a reliable session brewer. In addition to Summer Shandy and its variants, this summer its 3.4% ABV helles return for a second year with a new name, Sunshine Light Lager, and the variegated-type Lemon Haze IPA weighs in at 4.9% ABV. .
However, I don’t like either of these as much as the new Juicy Peach all year round. It’s only fitting that this beer shares the name Jelly Belly peach jellybean. The aroma is soft, sweet, reminiscent of peach, a bit of earthy wheat, and a subtle turpentine note that I hadn’t noticed until my co-columnist Katie Herrera pointed it out (Yeah, we talk a lot about beer !).
It drinks moderately sweet and just a little sour – neither intense enough to make you worry about your tooth enamel nor forget you’re drinking beer. 4.5%ABV.