My short-list for summer drinking choices

I believe I have found a few beers that I will be enjoying considerable amounts of over the coming months. As I’ve mentioned before, much of the beer I look for now is what I consider to be drinkable and clean. While I can appreciate full-flavored big beers with lots of hops and/or alcohol, most of the time I like to reach for refreshing, lightly flavored beers with no appreciable flavor defects. I’ve mentioned here before that I like Heineken (out of a can/keg only!) for that reason. A couple of other beers that fall in this category for me are Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest pilsner and even Pyramid’s Curveball kolsch/blond. But these are seasonals and you can’t get them year-round.

My recent additions to this group both come from Redhook: Pilsner and Wit. As I understand it, the pilsner is the same as the Rope Swing summer seasonal that Redhook released within the last couple years, and now it’s been upgraded to year-round availability and I’m happy about that. It’s a good beer with a nice balance between malt and hop influences, and it’s quite easy to drink. Few, if any, defects stand out. One thing I with it had a tiny bit more of is some noble hop aroma. Something spicy, with eugenol and beta-caryophyllene. Even so, it’s a fine beer. Anyway, the Wit is what replaced the Rope Swing / Pilsner as the summer seasonal this year, and it’s another good beer. It’s unfiltered and is brewed with various spices consistent with the Belgian wit style: coriander, orange peel and some ginger (as it cleverly jokes about on the label). The citrus notes definitely stand out, and some ginger does peak out from the flavor now and again, but it is not significant. Bready/yeasty flavors are also present, but not overpowering. I tasted this up against Blue Moon recently and while I found the initial aroma of Blue Moon to be stronger and more pleasant, the body was considerably lighter and the after a few drinks the more prominent spices of the Blue Moon got to be too much. I enjoyed the subtly and balance of the Wit much more, and the higher body made the beer taste more robust as well.

Now Redhook isn’t a brewery that I’d consider “innovative” or “exciting”, but one thing they do relatively well is make clean and drinkable beers. The kind of beers that you can eat with most any meal and it will compliment the food well without distracting you. A number of them are what I would consider “session beers”, even though they aren’t necessarily lagers like most Sessions are. These two beers definitely fit that bill.

So give these guys a try. If you’re looking for warm-weather summertime activity beers, I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed in these.

[note: eugenol and beta-caryophyllene are compounds commonly found in many hop varieties, and they have spicy-type aromas. eugenol tends to have a cinnamon/clove-like aroma (somewhat different than the belgian beer type of clove) while caryophyllene can smell floral, carrot-like, and woody]

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5 responses to “My short-list for summer drinking choices

  1. Can you say something more about the two flavor compounds you mentioned–eugenol and beta-caryophyllene? What are some common flavor names for these two compounds?

  2. Pingback: Agreed « Atattooedtale's Weblog

  3. Redhook makes clean beer? West coast or east coast brewery? šŸ˜‰

    Not that I’ve had many RH beers lately, but I did have an ESB last year when doing research for an ESB that I was going to brew. I thought it was really estery and banana like which seemed out of place imo.

    I’m interested in trying the Pilsner though if it is clean.

    • I’ve had both west and east, and I’ve found west to be cleaner more often. That is also the one I’m more familiar with. Redhook’s ales do tend to be on the estery side, but it does not seem over-done and is certainly not out of style “guidelines”.

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