By Dan Yarnall
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with summer. Until now, most hop heads did the same. The problem here is that a 10% Imperial IPA and 98 degree day usually end up the same way – poorly. As everyone else is enjoying the sun, I’m taking a nap on one of those rocking chairs outside of Catch 31 and getting burned to a crisp. Lawnmower beers have always been a way of stating light, refreshing and easy to drink, but what about the hops? They have always been forgotten about when it comes to summertime. A typical Pale Ale would usually be the answer but never really satisfied my quench for that over-the-top hop punch.
Recently, the craft beer movement has started answering some of the critics that claim that craft is becoming too extreme. Breweries are in a never ending race to see how much alcohol/hops/coffee/barrel aging etc… we can pack into one brew. They stated that eventually the uber-cool breweries will only produce 20% imperial stouts with 1,000 IBUs. Personally, that would be awesome and need to find that beer as soon as possible. However, I agree with them when they state that we are alienating a lot of potential craft drinkers with palate wrecking brews. Enter Founder’s Brewing out of Grand Rapids, MI. Even though they are known for previously mentioned extreme brews, they recently produced Founder’s All Day IPA. An IPA with less than 5%? Hey, it’s their brew, I guess they can classify it anyway they want.
The pour is a cloudy golden haze with a cakey white head. As hard as it is to be tempted to drink this ice cold, please resist. 45 degrees is perfect for this brew. When its ice cold, the beer is muted and distant. Allowing it to warm up slightly brings out the huge floral nose that produces pineapple, mango and that little bit of flavor that is associated with the Simcoe hop. That flavor is cat urine. Ok first, don’t panic. My cat didn’t piss in your beer. It’s only in the smell and not the taste. If you can’t make it past the smell that’s totally cool and means more Simcoe for me. For those that are adventurous enough to continue, the body is light with a detectable bit of honey and not much more. It’s just enough malt backbone to support a massive amount of hops for this type of beer. The hops rocket around like a ping pong ball. The back of my tongue illuminates with bitterness and citrus as the aroma hops display orange and lemon rind. Wow! All that packed inside a beer that is only 4.7% and 140 calories. This will be my “Go To brew” for the summer. Also, they will be producing it in 12oz cans by mid-Summer. Oh…Check and Mate!
Food pairings; Hawaiian burger, watermelon eating contests or Greek salad
Where to find it: Whole Foods VB, Total Wine & More locations.
So, for many of those who still don’t buy that hops and summertime go hand and hand, I’ve selected another traditional lawnmower beer. Alewerks out of Williamsburg, VA recently began producing their White ale. White ales are synonymous with Belgian styled Wit beers. The recipes are all pretty much the same; pilsner malt, wheat, coriander, orange peel and a trace amount of hops. Throw in some Belgian yeast and Viola…a white ale! That’s the point; easy to make and easy to drink. Crisp, refreshing and quaffable.
As I pour the beer into an oversized pint glass, the carbonation is motoring. As it settles, a slightly pale and slightly hazy beer sits in front of me with a well crafted white foamy head. The smell is a wonderful combination of fresh bread and that weird earthy / citrus blend that can only be associated with coriander. The first sip pops with a lemony carbonation on the tongue and tingles each taste bud. The body is thin but with a slight hint of grain. As my palette figures out what’s going on most of the intense flavors subside and its easy drinking on a hot day. The finish is crisp with residual lemon. Quenching your thirst is always the first priority in a nice lawnmower brew and this delivers. Nicely done Alewerks!
Food Pairing: Grilled white fish, freshly made soft tacos and a sunny day.
Where to find: Grape and Gourmet, Harris Teeter & the brewery.
Other notable beers in the style; St. Bernardus Wit, Hoegaarden White and Allagash.
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