So the Solstice is right around the corner (4 days), and with it (hopefully, after 6 out of the last 7 days being overcast and rainy) will come all the trappings of summer. Including, of course, summer ales. But with all the summer beers out there, which one do you pick to go with your barbecue, your 4th of July fireworks, your day at the beach?
Fear not, gentle reader. My husband and I have saved you the trouble of debate, and did a double blind taste test of summer beers to determine the true king of ale.
The Contenders: I walked into my local packie and made a mix pack, one of everything that said "summer" on it.
- Sierra Nevada Summerfest
- Flying Dog Seasonal - Woody Creek White
- Harpoon Summer Beer
- Leinenkugel Summer Shandy
- Sam Adams Summer Ale
- Wachusett SummerAle
During the tasting, Paul and I decided that the Shandy (which was basically a bottle of lemonade) and the Flying Dog (which, while delicious, didn't really fit the flavor profile of a "summer ale") would be disqualified in the final tally. We wanted to make sure that summer ales and summer ales alone were considered in this definitive taste test.
Doing this tasting at home was a really interesting an enlightening experience, not to mention awesomely fun. I hope to do it again with other seasonal styles.
The Results (combined, overall score):
4. Harpoon- Paul and I were both surprised that this locally revered favorite actually tasted the worst! Described in our notes as "Blandish," "chalky," "flat taste" and "gritty"
3. Sierra Nevada - While there was nothing glaringly bad about this beer, it didn't stand up to it's other competitors. "Clean taste," "faint hint of hop," "Good simple beer for a hot day."
2. Sam's Summer- Paul and I were both impressed with how much more flavorful this beer was than the others, while still staying true to the summer ale profile. It had a more sophisticated, defined flavor profile, where the slight differences in taste really stood out, and it seemed like it was on purpose. "Full flavored/bodied but light," "clean aftertaste," "slight taste of smoke," "more citrus taste," "peppery."
AND THE WINNER:
1. Wachusett Summer Ale: Just as shocked as we were that Harpoon lost, we were really surprised that Wachusett won. We actually predicted, before we knew which beer was which, that Wachusett would be the lowest placing beer. So apologies, local brewery, we underestimated you, greatly! Wachusett has crafted a Summer Ale that is the perfect balance of deliciousness, and a light refreshing body. The notes we took speak for themselves: "Strongest coriander smell and taste," "nice aroma, hint of lemon, sweeter, refreshing," "nice round flavor, no strong aftertaste." It's a beer that really mastered the balance of having that wheat beer flavor, without creating a lasting after taste. I officially declare it my perfect post bike-ride beer. Good job Westminster MA!