This guest post is by James.
It’s that time of year again when that big yellow ball in the sky seems to be wearing you like a hat. Time for either relaxing on a front porch swing, playing at the lake, or tubing down a river. Whatever you’re doing, you probably need a beer. Here are a few of my favorite summer beers that should nip that heat in the bud, at least a little bit.
Austin Beerworks – Einhorn ABV 3%
I love a good Berliner Weisse, which is a tart German wheat ale. As refreshing as any lemonade you’ll find, this style of beer always hits the spot in the heat. These beers often had flavored syrups added to them to balance out the sourness, so why not just add flavors during the brewing process? ABW put out three variants this year, all of
which are delicious. Sour Cherry, Ginger Lime, and Tropical Einhorn which delivers passionfruit, pineapple and coconut flavors are all must haves this season. You can pick the one that suits your taste or make a mixed six pack at a place like Whichcraft in case you don’t feel like choosing. The entire Einhorn line is seasonal, so don’t
delay with this one. You can also get them in their taproom, of course, but you can also find them out and about on shelves where fine beers are sold.
I love surprises, and who doesn’t? One of my favorite types of surprises is when I am wrong about a preconceived idea I had. When I first heard about beers brewed with tea, I immediately thought, “nope, not doing that.” I’m a huge fan of Blue Owl, and all of their offerings, and in the interest of keeping an open mind, especially when it comes to beer, I picked up a single of Cool to try. Wow! So glad that I did, and now I have a changed mind. This collaboration
with neighboring (and another of my favorites) Lazarus Brewing is like having a nice, cool iced tea and beer at the same time. Earl Grey tea derives most of its flavor from bergamot, a citrus fruit with a distinctive aroma and flavor. These flavors play nicely into a summer session beer. Couple this with the signature sourness of the entire Blue Owl lineup and you have yet another flavorful, easy drinking addition to your hot weather hangout.
Jeff Young (of Blue Owl) told me, “Matt Couch (Head Brewer, Lazarus) and I sat down for one of the first times since knowing each other and wanted to come up with a collaboration beer for the Eastside Cool Party. We quickly became BFFs. The intent of the beer was to be something akin to a summer shandy or an Arnold Palmer (iced tea and lemonade). Matt likes making English styles and I like occasionally making sour beers. So we merged our styles and souls to make Cool & the Gang.”
Tonbo is the Japanese name for Dragonfly (former name of the beer) from Kitagawa Utamaro’s “Picture Book of Crawling Creatures”. I’ve always loved the tattoo art tie-ins with this place. As Head Brewer Michael Waters explains, Tonbo is “a refreshing, effervescent ale brewed with rice and the lightest of European barley. Rice adds subtle sweetness and soft coconut character, while low kilned barley lends the perfect amount of body. A blend of hops shine through to create bright aromatic thirst quenching flavors of pineapple, berry and melon.” He continued, “to the Samurai, the dragonfly symbolized power, agility, and victory. The dragonfly also is associated with Japan’s rice
fields, its major habitat.”
Skull Mechanix brews several summer beers, some of which you’ll findon tap around town, but for this one you’ll have to go there and get a crowler. If you haven’t been there yet, do yourself the favor and try some of their other stellar offerings while waiting for your crowler to get filled. Maybe even play some old school video games in their newly opened super rad 80’s style arcade. (Iron Maiden pinball? Take my quarters, please!) Then take that crowler home and drink it wit take out sushi, they’re a perfect pair.
Oddwood Ales– Pool Dad Pils ABV 5%
Even though this outstanding brewpub is known for its wild ales and foeder aged beers, their new Pilsner is completely on point. It has a very malty backbone with just enough of the right type of noble hop presence behind it to balance it out nicely. This unfiltered Pilsner is smooth, a little sweet but nice and crisp at the end. I was very pleased when Brett Ziebarth (owner) told me that this was now going to be a year-round offering, because we here like to drink our lagers even when its not Summer. It is available for crowler fills at the brewpub and will soon also be available onsite in tall boy 4-packs in the near future. So, add this one to your long list of awesome lagers in Austin. I’m taking mine to the pool to rock my dad bod.
Real Ale Brewing – Skullberry Strawberry Milkshake IPA ABV 6.2%
Many people regard IPAs as refreshing. I am not necessarily one of those people, and I’m also a bit skeptical when it comes to milkshake IPAs. This one is pretty amazing and definitely is refreshing. It’s not a hazy IPA as I expected to find, but the lactose gives it a creamier mouthfeel and sweeter flavor. At only 20 IBU, the hop presence is all flavor and aroma. It does hold a proper IPA ABV, so it’s not as sessionable as most beers we may reach for this time of year, but in a safe environment, I can see myself putting down quite a few of these beauties. Backyard barbecue? Definitely. All day tubing trip? Maybe just add a few of these gems to the cooler along with lower alcohol beers, because we always drink responsibly, right? This is a seasonal beer that is only available from May through August, so…tick tock!
Zilker Brewing – Killer Light Kolsch ABV 5.0%
I see what you did with the name there, wink wink. Clever beer names are always fun, but what’s great about this one is that it’s true. This IS a killer light beer! I picked a six pack up at my local grocery store based on the label alone. I know I’m already a fan of Zilker beers, and using the word “Limited” will often make me dance on my little hind legs and snatch it up. It’s a true German-style Kölsch, made with Pilsner malt and a yeast sourced from Köln. How do I know
that? Because it’s printed right on the side of the can (now who’s clever?) I needed something highly drinkable for a small backyard barbecue I was having, and this one did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, all six disappeared rather quickly, and that turned into another quick run to the same grocery store. This time I got twelve. Hard to give it a better endorsement than that. Pairs well with shade trees, lounge chairs and swimming holes. Get some before they’re all gone!
Hi Sign Brewing – Violet ABV 5.1%
Blonde Ales are often ignored by beer geeks and dismissed as boring. I find them to be excellent summer quenchers, easy drinking beers that even your non-craft beer drinking friends can appreciate. Add a little fruit into the mix, and when done properly this style can be a hot weather tasty treat. Enter Violet, the blueberry sister of Christie, the Blonde Ale. With subtle blueberry flavor, Violet is definitely not in your face, but more smooth and demure. This one is nice and malty but still maintains a clean finish that I enjoy when the temperature starts reaching triple digits. As one of Hi Sign’s core beers, you can find this one year-round on tap, at your favorite bottle shop, and in grocery store coolers around town. Or better yet, have one on their nice deck out in the back of their taproom which is pretty sweet for
your summer time get-togethers.
Please know that this in no way is an all inclusive list. There are so many great beers for all seasons here in Austin, but particularly summer. So get out there, get sweaty, and drink ‘em up!
James Lipari is an avid homebrewer, Certified Cicerone, and lover of all things beer. You’ll likely see him in taprooms, brewpubs, and beer bars here and across the country. You can follow him on Instagram @beerlovesjames