Kolsch and Saison: Dreaming of Summer Beer

Pondering some less popular styles and how good they are to drink in the summer heat.

When I think marketed Summer beers, I think wheat and lemon and basically Sam Adams Summer Ale, which is described thus:

This hazy golden unfiltered brew combines crisp wheat with the bright citrus of lemon peel and the subtle spice of Grains of Paradise.

That’s fine. Flowing fields of wheat, bright yellow citrus, grains. That certainly is a summer image, but that’s not really what I’m looking for. That’s Summer Beer 101. I’ve never been a huge wheat beer fan, I prefer wheat on my plate and barley in my glass.

Saison. Often partially misrepresented as ‘farmhouse ale’, Saison is a great beer to represent the season. It’s a broad style, it’s typically low alcohol, it’s well carbonated, it’s got flavor but they’re not particularly out there flavors so it should appeal to a broad range of drinkers. Typically there is fruit flavors from the hops, which gives the impression of sweetness in an otherwise dryer style that’s easy to drink in the heat.

I’d bring saison to every barbecue and gathering this summer if I could find enough interesting quality and quantity in cans and bottles, but not enough brewers are making it in Northern New Jersey. I’m picking up a six pack of one from The Alementary today though, I’m excited about that.

Kölsch is another style that’s well suited to summer. This one is even more friendly to a wide variety of drinkers. It’s a fairly light lagered ale, with a lot of bready notes. Light fruit maybe, light hop spice. It’s delicate, but it’s also a good canvas for creative American brewing.  Smoked Peach, Coffee, or any of your favorite fruits or fruity hops that you want to really accent go really well here.

Keep an eye out for some of these more delicate styles. Bring a Kölsch to try at your next family gathering. Next time you have friends over for some burgers, toss a few cans of saison into the cooler. You won’t regret stocking a few Helles lagers this summer. There is an insane amount of gose out there these days, but that salty, slightly sour, style is another solid option to quaff in between hot dogs.

Two Ton Brewing just tweeted this:

Ginger-Lime Kolsch – 7% ABV ‘The Style-Ale’ bursting with ginger and key lime flavors that make this the perfect summer beverage.

I’d drink that.

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