Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Beer Round-Up #7: Baxter Celsius Summer Ale

The daiquiri, at its best, is a simple cocktail. White rum, sugar and lime juice. It was said to have been the favorite beverage of both Ernest Hemingway and John F. Kennedy, the latter seeming somewhat odd considering the spirit inherent and its prominence in the country just 90 miles to our south.

What we find in the latest beer from Baxter Brewing Company is nothing short of beer meets daiquiri. Celsius Summer Ale is the first seasonal offering from this Lewiston, Maine brewery, specializing in canned beer. If this beer reminded me of a daiquiri it was because of several additions, notably lime and lemon peel, Kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, each contributing a degree of citric complexity that complemented the sharp hoppiness and tang of wheat. With a touch of floral sweetness and a moderate 4.7% ABV this is a great summer seasonal and would pair perfectly with anything from grilled fish to a summer salad.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Beer Round-Up #6: Wachusett Summer Ale

Firstly, special thanks to Amanda for letting me sample one of her beers for Summer Beer Round-Up #6…the glass also belongs to her. ;^)

Just off the Mohawk Trail in Westminster, Massachusetts is a brewery that has been around since 1993*. Founded by Worcester Polytechnic Institute graduates and friends Ned, Kevin and “Quinny”, Wachusett Brewing Company can be somewhat unassuming, especially with a flagship beer with a fruity twist.

How many of you have had their Blueberry Ale? Okay, how many of you have had another beer from their line-up? Yeah, that’s what I thought, but I urge you to take a closer look. This brewery produces a fantastic variety of beers and in recent years have expanded to include a number of limited release beers that have blown me away. Most notably a Milk Stout and a beer known as Larry, a 7.5% ABV Imperial IPA brewed in collaboration with the Publick House in Brookline, MA.

Wachusett Summer Ale drinks similarly to their Blueberry Ale, minus the blueberries. With just a hint of lemon and mild Noble hops the beer starts with a hit of both and ends with a sack of grain-like breadiness. Refreshing and drinkable is the name of the game when it comes to summer beers, and in Waschusett Summer, we have them both.

*Their website says 1993, but the glass says 1994. It appears the company was founded in 1993 and after some experimentation Wachusett Country Ale was introduced to the public in 1994. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer Beer Round-Up #5: Jack's Abby Leisure Time Lager

As I sit here with the windows and doors open on this beautiful pre-summer New England day, I find myself sipping slowly on the newest beer in bottles from Jack’s Abby Brewing. Leisure Time Lager is named after the ice brand that the Hendler brothers’ (Jack, Eric and Sam) grandfather developed as part of the Saxony Ice Company.  While the ice company is no longer in the family, the idea of a family operated business was passed down and Jack’s Abby was born.

Leisure Time Lager is a Witbier...kinda.

Brewed with locally grown wheat and spiced in a similar manner, Leisure Time takes a few twists that plant it solely in the realm of “other.” Traditional Witbier are not normally lagered (cold-conditioned) for any length of time, rather allowing the ale yeast to develop fruity notes. This aspect is noticeably absent from Leisure Time in a crispness that holds firm through the finish. While the addition of coriander and orange peel is standard, the lemongrass and chamomile are not. The chamomile lends of lavender-like floral quality and the lemongrass enhances the citric quality already imparted by the orange peel and mild hops to refresh the palate with a trifecta of flavor.

This is not the first Jack’s Abby beer that I’ve raved about and it certainly won’t be my last. For a brewery that has only been in operations for about a year, Jack’s Abby has certainly found a place in my repertoire of superbly produced local beers and is almost never out of stock in my refrigerator.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer Beer Round-Up #4: New Belgium Somersault

Unfortunately, one of the nation's largest craft brewers does not distribute here in Massachusetts. Fortunately, I was visiting the West Coast and was able to sample a number of their beers including their summer seasonal.

I've talked to many expatriated individuals who are shocked to find that New Belgium Brewing does not distribute beer in New England and that their beloved Fat Tire cannot be found anywhere in Massachusetts. With the news that a second brewery is to be built in Asheville, North Carolina, I've no doubt that we'll soon see their beers gracing our shelves, but with the projected completion date sometime in 2015 we still have a few years to wait.

That's why on a recent trip to the West Coast, amidst sipping as many California beers as I could get my hands on, I drank plenty of beer from Ft. Collins, Colorado. Wading my way through their portfolio, I ultimately stumbled upon their summer seasonal. Somersault is a light and refreshing ale brewed with a base of 2-row pale malt and a touch of oats. The addition of apricot lends a tartness to the beer and a hint of ginger adds a mild spiciness that compliments the slightly citrusy centennial hops.

While on the road, where and when I can get it, New Belgium Brewing is a sure bet. I know that for some people who can get this beer any day of the week this may seem like a boring choice, but the beer is good! So I drink it, and you should too.