The Super List: Beers to Try This Summer
When D.C. weather is as hot and sticky as it has been the past few weeks, staying inside and popping open a cold one is about the only thing you can do. I keep track of all the suds I consume and from time to time offer a "Super List" of the ones I feel are worth checking out. Here is a short list of summer stand-outs.
I wouldn't describe my taste in beer, or anyone's, as "girly," but with a strong showing of wheat, fruit and wine barrel-aging, I admit the list of suggestions below has a feminine flare. I blame the heat. Try any of these beers and love (or hate) them? Hit me in the comments.
Double Wit Blackberry, Mother Earth Brewing: This Belgian-style double wit beer is fermented with North Carolina blackberries and aged for three months in pinot noir barrels. It was the only beer at Savor, the Brewers Association's big annual beer and food pairing event, that I went back for multiple pours of, and I wasn't alone. Where can you get it? Thanks to Speakeasy Spirits, this Windowpane series brew and other Mother Earth offerings could be distributed in D.C. as soon as September.
Tart Lychee, New Belgium Brewing Company: The base of this Lips of Faith series release, where employees compete in a blind blended beer tasting to brew a beer of their choice, is the Colorado brewery's golden wood-aged sour beer, Felix. They then add pureed lychee fruit and cinnamon sticks to spice things up. The result is a fantastically sweet and sour summer beer. I had it on draft in early June at the Black Squirrel and have found bombers easy to spot in most local craft beers shops.
Rye-on-Rye, Boulevard Brewing Company: As the name suggests, this unique Missouri ale is a blend of rye-brewed beer (rather than just barley like most brewskies) and beer aged in charred oak Templeton Rye whiskey casks from Iowa. Toffee, dough, and brown liquor aromas give way to rich caramel flavors and a long, dry finish. You don't have to be a rye fan to appreciate and enjoy this beer. Keep an eye out for its beautiful lavender label at local craft beer emporiums.
Sobrehumano Palena’ole, Maui Brewing Company & Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales: The name of this tart red ale means "super human without limits." The cross-continental collaboration is brewed with Hawaiian passion fruit (Maui's contribution) and Michigan cherries (courtesy of Jolly Pumpkin). I picked up a six-pack of Maui's canned version of this refreshing, über fruity beer at D'Vines in Columbia Heights. Jolly Pumpkin's barrel-aged sour version should be hitting shelves soon.
Black Berliner Techno Weiss, Devils Backbone Brewing Company & Bluejacket: If this and Bluejacket's first collaboration release are any indication, we should expect some very interesting and innovative beers from the impending Neighborhood Restaurant Group brewery. The unique crossover style is a traditional tart wheat ale, but brewed with dark roasted malt instead of the usual light-colored Pilsener malt. At a mere 3.5 percent alcohol by volume, it's easy to drink with mild sour, roast, and dark chocolate flavors. I tried it at Birch & Barley's Savor brewers brunch, where it was served with a sweet syrup like an authentic Berliner weiss would be in northern Germany. It was a limited release, but a squirreled away keg is likely to pop up again at ChurchKey before the weather turns cold.
BONUS: Two brews I wish were available in D.C. but aren't...yet.
Barrel-Aged Hop God, Nebraska Brewing Company: This hybrid of a Belgian-style Tripel and West Coast India pale ale is aged in French oak chardonnay barrels for six months. The result is a complex but balanced bouquet of grapefruit, peach, spice and oak. At 10 percent alcohol, this beer has a noticeable white wine character but is not overly boozy. My advice: if you see any bottles outside D.C. somewhere, hoard them.
Anniversary Ale, Shorts Brewing Company: This dry-hopped wheat wine (translation: strong wheat beer) is one of a kind. Brewed with blood oranges and green peppercorns, it is a perfect combination of tangy fruit, spice, and booze. Trying this beauty on draft for the first time last summer inspired me to take a pilgrimage to the brewery in Northern Michigan. Having it on cask at ChurchKey last month, I fell in love again. I'm not sure if we'll see it in D.C. again until next summer, but I'm crossing my fingers.