It’s that time of year again folks! Summer has just finally begun, a couple splashes of sunshine in April and/or May, the calendar turns to June July, it’s raining again / still and suddenly – “THIS is the WORST summer we’ve EVER had!!!! I can’t believe it’s June July and it’s raining!!!! Boo-hoo-hoo!”
Stop us if this sounds vaguely familiar, because it should. You all said it last year. And the year before. And the year before that. Don’t feel bad though, quite frankly, we’d be willing to bet that George Vancouver probably said much the same in June of 1792 when he ran into Dionisio Galiano and his Spanish expedition in Burrard Inlet, we can just imagine it…
Vancouver: “Boy it rains a lot here eh? This is like the worst summer I’ve ever seen!! And I’m from England!”
Vancouver (slightly louder): “I said, IT’S REALLY RAINY, THIS SUMMER SUCKS!!”
Vancouver (louder still): “I SAID… oh, you know what, just forget it, this is ridiculous…”
Anywho, once the summer does come, and it always does, in all its brilliant (if memory zapping) glory, here are some beers (in no particular alphabetical order) that we feel make for great summer drinking!
BrewDog: Punk IPA
Deeply floral, creamily piney with a clean grapefruit bitter finish, Punk IPA is in this Hobbyist’s top 10 for sure, and it wouldn’t be a BoS post without a little Brewdog representation; expect a full review in the future. At 5.6%, the second heaviest ABV in this year’s BoS behind our next beer on the list, but certainly manageable; this brew is so good you’ll want to take your time with it anyway. The nose and flavour are an enticing balance of deep floral and piney hops but as deep as the pine is, it is smooth as silk and refreshing. The balance of flavours and wonderful progression from up front pine, broad floral middle with some malt sweet to compliment, finishing with crisp, dry grapefruit bitterness make this a really enjoyable IPA, even on a hot summer’s day.
Brooklyn Brewery: Sorachi Ace
Saisons (Beligan Farm Ales) can provide a great alternative to the traditional summer Hefe. They are similarly light and spicy but generally more aggressively hopped and a bit dryer. That said, Brooklyn’s Sorachi Ace is not your average saison. Part of their ‘Big Bottle’ series, this beer uses champagne yeast which gives it a lighter mouth feel and stronger carbonation. Combined with the creamy lemon citrus provided by rare Sorachi hops creates a unique beer that is complex but easy drinking, even at 7.6% ABV. In fact, given the corked bottle and taste profile, this could well be thought of as the Champagne of beer (not to be confused with the Champagne of Ginger Ales) and everyone loves Champagne! The price has dropped significantly in recent years (around $11 at the BCL compared with close to $30 in the past) making it a much more affordable splash!
Howe Sound Brewing Company: 4 Way Fruit Ale
This fruit ale from Howe Sound takes a different tack – rather than focusing on one fruit and working to build a beer that strongly represents that one fruit, Howe Sound picked 4 fruits, and used pure purées of each, as if blending hop or malt varieties, to bring different characteristics to this refreshingly light summer ale. Raspberries lend gentle sweetness to the nose and edge to the flavor while mangoes round out the sweetness and body of the beer, lending touches of smooth, almost creaminess to both. The passion fruit is the clearest in the uplifting tang to the nose, and lends a healthy zip to the flavor as well, supported by and blending with the pomegranate, which combined with the raspberry tartness do nice job to eliminate sweetness overload; you simply won’t find it in this beer. And at 4.4%, 4-way won’t punish you quite so much on those dehydrating hot summer days either; a few score of these have already disappeared in Hobbyists households this summer!
Parallel 49: Seedspitter Watermelon Wit
From East-Van relative newcomer Parallel 49 and the second of three fruit beers to make this year’s list we have Seedspitter Watermelon Wit; we’re not sure if this beer could be more summer. All the looks, nose and flavor of a bright, lively easy drinking Wit, but with a crisp subtle-sweet watermelon flavour that will have feeling like you’re leaning back in the grass by the lake enjoying a nice big cool slice, even if you’re hiding inside and its raining. As we noted in our full review, there’s no problems getting through a six pack of these beauties, or sharing them around; serve ‘em up with a slice of real watermelon and you’ve looking at a winning combo of ultra-summer refreshment.
Townsite Brewing: Zunga Blonde Ale
Another recent addition to the BC craft beer scene that we thought might make the BoS list right from our initial review, and sure enough it did! Zunga is the first of their beers we tried and is the one we find ourselves going back to as summer pushes its way into the province. Good, nicely hopped golden ales are rarity in North America but make for the perfect summer refreshment. It’s probably no coincidence then that Brewmaster Cédric Dauchot hails from Belgium, a place that excels in this style! As we noted initially, it’s sharp, clean and refreshing. There are hints of grass and pine, like a fine summer day in the woods. This beer has enough there to keep an enthusiast interested but is not so overpowering as to scare off the average punter.
Unibroue: Ephémère Apple
Of all the fruit beers on our list this year, Unibroue’s Ephémère Apple takes the prize for being the most like fruit in beer form. This white ale is Granny Smith apple through and through; the nose smells like lightly spiced Granny Smith apple-pie filling before it’s baked and the flavor is lip puckering tartness balanced out with secondary sweetness with an incredibly dry finish. A little extra effervescence only helps to further the impression. What else can we say, it really is like biting into a vibrant green, crunchy Granny Smith. A word on most excellent refreshment achievement; we find this beer is best a little extra chilled, if you let it warm too much, the sweet background starts to take over and can be a little cloying.
We’d be remiss to be talking summer beers without mentioning one of our tip-top perennial favorites, Howe Sound’s King Heffy, which we featured last year and reviewed in full previously, a pint of which would fit into your hand well on any sunny patio. If you’re still looking for ideas on what to grab on your lazy saunter over to your buddy’s balcony-b-q, check out last year’s post for a few more bright summer ideas.
Parallel 49 Brewing Company : Seedspitter Watermelon Wit
A Battle of Wits? To the Death? I Accept!
Ooooooor how about we just have a beer. Then talk about it. Wit-death-battles just seem a little over the edge, but hey, I suppose it worked out for Westley… still. Let’s stick with beer.
Introducing one of the newest additions to the Lower Mainland Craft Brewing scene, Ladies & Gentlemen! (insert drum roll) ….. Parallel 49 Brewing Company! (cymbal splash!). Right here in East Vancouver, practically in their own backyard according to their story, the boys from St. Augustine’s, who already hold title as one of the esteemed craft beer bars in town, have done something else that so many of us dream of. They started a brewery.
Mingled in with their initial trifecta of core brews, an India Pale Larger, a “Classic Ale” and a Ruby Ale, we find Seedspitter Watermelon Wit, a curious conglomeration of Belgian-style Witbier with a summer-synonymous sweet snack, the watermelon. The first thing we notice about this beer, and all of their beers, is the playful, carnival-style artwork, pretty cool! Excited to see what a watermelon beer is all about, we pour, and sure enough, this beer has all the looks of a Wit – cloudy, yellow-orange in colour, a quickly dissipating head and a nose full of citrus orange and coriander.
Every time we try to explain the flavor of this beer, we get stuck on “lively and bright”. It goes down nicely clean, refreshing, with bright wheat malts, a little lemony zip and slight astringency met well with a little sweetness, but not stickily sweet as you might think from a watermelon beer. We sessioned this beer one night with a buddy, and even at the end of our 6 we found the crisp, balanced sweetness enjoyable. Similarly, the watermelon flavor is nicely subtle, coming to the fore as you get to the middle of the body and on into the finish. This beer really is like a watermelon, thirst-quenching, not too sweet and perfect on a hot summer’s day.
With the carnival-style art, we can’t help but think the character on the bottle would be a performer, some sort of seed-spitting phenom. He’d have to be pretty good though to beat the current world record, which depending on your source (we couldn’t find it in the online GBoWR’s) is either almost a full 69 feet, or an astonishing 75 feet!! That’s nearly 100 SeedSpitter bottles laid end-to-end, or, like some infinitesimally small percentage of the distance to the moon (roughly 2.9729061227596179458883519159785 x 10-6% if you must know…).
Anywho (nerd over). Parallel 49 – check ‘em out! Definitely keep an eye out for future posts on their other creations!
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