Beers of Summer

Summer Seasonals Reviewed

Like so many other things, when a good thing in beer comes out every brewery wants to have horse in the race. And so it is right now for summer seasonal beer. For craft beer drinkers this is a good thing of course.

Typically, I prefer sessional beers during the sultry summer season. These are usually lower in ABV and after a day of working in the yard or playing in the sun a cool sessional beer is just the thing to quench my thirst and still allow me some consciousness to fire up the grill.

Right now at The Winery (where I can be found a few nights a week) there are at least seven beers with "summer" in their name and even more with some reference to the season. So how do you sort through all the choices on the shelves and make the right decision for your next beer. I started to do this review with all beers I could find with summer in the name but then tasted the Troegs Sunshine Pils and liked it so much I was compelled to add it to the mix. Hey, what's not to like about sunshine - it is summer.

I read a very good book a few months ago entitled, The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowieki. The premise of the book is that while individually none of us may know the right answer, collectively we are really good at finding the answer and making choices.

One of the author's examples involved the British scientist Francis Galton when he attended a country fair in 1906 and witnessed a contest to guess the weight of an ox. He thought he might learn something by analyzing the distribution of the guesses. When the contest was over he collected the tickets and calculated the mean average. Since only some of those in the crowd had any expertise in livestock, he didn't expect the average guess to be very accurate. He was wrong, the average guess was 1,197 pounds. The weight of the ox was 1,198 pounds. To his surprize the crowd had won!

Can we use this phenomenon in selecting our next beer purchase? Whatever your answer to that question, that is what I'm going to do to review summer seasonal beers. Let's see if you agree.

Victory Summer Love
Malt: imported 2 row German malts; Hops: whole flower Tettnang Tettnang, Simcoe and Citra hops; ABV: 5.2%; Flavor - With the sublime, earthy familiarity of noble European hops backed up by fresh, clean German malts, Summer Love Ale ends with a surprising burst of lemony refreshment from fistfuls of American whole flower hops.

Peak Organic Summer Session - A traditional summer wheat beer marries a West Coast pale ale. Locally grown wheat provides a complex mouthfeel and Amarillo® dry hopping gives a citrusy aroma. ABV: 5% IBUs: 61

Evolution Summer Session
Summer Session ale is a light, refreshing unfiltered ale brewed with Barley, Oats, Rye, and wheat for a subtle complexity. A reserved hop bitterness and aroma balance the lightly sweet grain character. Beer Profile: ABV: 4.6%; IBU: 25; Hops: Cascade, Crystal, Hallertaur; Malt: Pale, Pilsner, Wheat, Rye, Flaked Oats, Caramalt

Smuttynose Summer Weizen
Color: pale, hazy gold; Malt Bill: North American 2-Row, Wheat Malt; Hops: Sterling; Other: Whole Chamomile Flowers; ABV 5.46%; IBU 15

Breckenridge Summer Bright
Beer Style: Golden Ale; Flavor: A refreshing golden ale with a hint of natural citrus Yeast: Top Fermenting Ale Yeast; Malts: Two row Pale, White Wheat, Carapils, Munich Hops: Fuggle, Cascade, Willamette; Color: Golden; Bitterness Units: 15; ABV: 4.5% Availability: April - August

Goose Island Summertime
Style: German Style Kölsch; ABV: 5.1%; IBU: 20; Color: Sunshine; Hops: Mt. Hood, Saaz Malt: 2 Row, Wheat

New Belgium Rolle Bolle
ABV: 5.2%; IBU: 30; Hops: Target, Cascade, Amarillo, Centennial; Malts: Pale, Oats Fruits/Spice: Monk Fruit, Soursop

Troegs Sunshine Pils
Alcohol by Volume: 4.5%; Hop Bitterness (IBUs): 45; Color (SRM): Straw / Golden; Availability: Seasonal (April - August); Malts: Pilsner, Crystal; Hops: Saaz, Hallertau Mitt; Yeast: Lager

I often use this approach when visiting a new brewery, package store or just in the mood for something new. There are many smartphone apps that can assist with this approach. It's a mobile tool that can help with quick beer-selection decisions.

So here is how these beers are rated according to RateBeer and Beer Advocate. I've added the RateBeer overall score and BeerAdvocate to get a total tasting score. Below are the results.

Victory Summer Love
RateBeer :: 91 overall 99 style
BeerAdvocate :: BA Score 86
Total 177 pts

Troegs Sunshine Pils
RateBeer :: 71 overall 96 style
BeerAdvocate :: BA Score 85
Total 156 pts

New Belgium Rolle Bolle
RateBeer :: 59 overall 62 style
BeerAdvocate :: BA Score 78
Total 137 pts

Peak Organic Summer Session
RateBeer :: 46 overall 79 style
BeerAdvocate :: BA Score 83
Total 129 pts

Goose Island Summertime
RateBeer :: 47 overall 78 style
BeerAdvocate :: BA Score 80
Total 127 pts

Smuttynose Summer Weizen
RateBeer :: 46 overall 78 style
BeerAdvocate :: BA Score 78
Total 124 pts

Evolution Summer Session Ale
RateBeer :: 42 overall 71 style
BeerAdvocate :: BA Score 79
Total 121 pts

Breckenridge Summer Bright
RateBeer :: 23 overall 36 style
BeerAdvocate :: BA Score 73
Total 96 pts

Of course, like in sports, there is a favorite but they still play the game. Or in our case, drink the beer. Enjoy and be sure to share your thoughts in the Comments.