Well, I’m scrambling to get ready for the American Craft Brew Festival. As I’ve mentioned, I’m volunteering at the 1:00pm session today. Please look out for me and say hello if you’re there. Per the usual, Silvio has the reins on this fine Saturday as he reviews some summer brews.
Ah, summer – baseball, barbeques, vacations, hot weather, and lots of sun. Since the season is almost upon us, I thought it was time to review a few summer seasonal brews to properly prepare the loyal LIBA readers. I chose three summer brews I haven’t ever had, Saranac’s Summer Brew, Gordon Biersch Sommerbrau, and the Brooklyn Summer Ale. I typically love all of these brewery’s products, and couldn’t wait to taste these beers.
First, Saranac’s Summer Brew. The pour was nice, with plenty of foam, but it dissipated almost immediately. It had a nice clear color, and the typical lager smell combines nicely with some lemon notes. The taste is interesting – sweet but light, and the lemon flavor dominates the beer. It literally tastes like lemonade from the first taste through the middle, only surrendering to the wheat lager flavor during the aftertaste.
This is truly a beer-lemonade mix, reminiscent of a wheaty Sprite, paired with a miniscule 3.5% ABV. I think one of these would be outstanding during the dog days of August but I really can’t imagine having two or more – it’s just too sweet for that.
Second up, Gordon Biersch’s Sommerbrau. This is brewed as a kolsch-style beer, using yeast imported from Cologne, Germany. The pour was decent, with lots of carbonation but only a tiny crown of foam. While the crown was small, it stuck around for a while and left some nice lacing. The color was golden, a bit opaque, and the smell was sweet, with hints of spice.
The flavor was quite unique – smoky and crisp, but quite bitter. The first taste is so interesting, but I couldn’t really distinguish it. It went away really quickly and left behind a long bitter note on the aftertaste. This isn’t a typical summer beer, and I wouldn’t recommend it for that, but this is definitely an interesting beer. ABV is decent at 4.8%.
Last up, Brooklyn Brewery’s Summer Ale. The pour was very similar to the Sommerbrau in terms of its’ carbonation and golden opaque color, but the tiny foam crown quickly evaporated without any lacing. The brew has hints of lemon, but not as much as the Saranac.
Unfortunately, the taste was quite disappointing. I really love Brooklyn beers, but this didn’t live up to expectations. The taste was quite bitter and skunky. I didn’t taste any lemon or any real summer-style flavors and labored to get through my glass. I’m sorry to say that this was not a very good beer – quite a letdown from Brooklyn’s typical great flavor. At least the 4.5% ABV is decent for a summer brew.
So in summary, I don’t think I discovered any diamonds in the rough here. Saranac was ok, really refreshing but too sweet for more than one bottle. Gordon Biersh was interesting but not a typical summer beer. The Brooklyn was a total letdown, and I hope the skunkiness was just my bottle and not normal for the seasonal.