By Kathleen Slauzis, Craft Beer Enthusiast
As temperatures rise there is nothing like opening a bottle or can of beer to cool you off. Whether it is enjoyed at a baseball game or at a friend’s cookout, beer is at the top of the leader boards when it comes to adult beverages any season, especially in the summer.
A big question for beer drinkers looking to move away from “Big Beer” is how does one start this journey to discover great craft beer? Another would be why should I drink craft beer? The answers to both of those will be found right here. Our hopes are many: to share the many great finds and tastes of craft beer, that our passionate inspires you to try new brew, to show you where to find it, and that the answer as to why to drink craft beer is answered as soon as you take your first sip.
So, let’s pop open a bottle and get this summer series of beer started.
For me, beer has seasonality in its flavor. Craft beer comes in many different styles and within those styles there are so many different combinations and flavors that a brewer uses to make their beer stand out. When I think of drinking beer in the summer, I think of something I can drink of a lot of, most of the time with a low ABV (alcohol by volume), and something light in taste but full of flavor.
The first style up to the plate in this summer series is a saison (which means season in French). These are also known as a farmhouse ales or biere de garde. This style of beer is available year round, however it is something I drink most frequently as a transitional beer as winter turns into spring and onto the beginning of summer. As you might guess by the variety of names there is a wide variety within the saisons style; generally, though, they are distinguished by their light to amber color, sweet smell, and usually a mildly spiced taste.
I love all different types of saisons but I started out with two Belgian style farmhouse ales and one French style country ale which is also a farmhouse ale/biere de garde. Personally I think these are a great starting ground for someone who is just starting in craft beer and wanting to try a new style. Belgian style beers, in my experience, taste smoother and creamer. There isn’t a distinct bite like a pale or india pale ale.
Beginning with a light farmhouse ale, Great Divide’s Colette is a slightly hazy golden colored brew. It smells a little sweet and has a slight fruity taste, but ends up finishing dry. It doesn’t leave your mouth coated with syrupy flavor. It is a little fuller in taste than many light lager fans are used to but it is such a better way to quench your thirst.
Sticking with the lighter side of saison/farmhouse ales, my next beer is Boulevard Brewing Co.’s Tank 7. Tank 7 is a lighter gold color than the Colette, still that signature light touch of fruitiness and a little bit of a dry finish. Coming out of Kansas City, Mo., Boulevard Brewing Co.’s Tank 7 is a must try when it comes to this style of beer.
This last beer is for drinkers who are used to amber colored beer. For those who like that little bit of toasty, caramel flavor in their mouth, I bring you Two Brothers Brewing Co.’s Domaine DuPage – French Style Country Ale. Not too heavy to drink, great paired with almost any kind of food, and leaves your mouth refreshed at the end with its slight hop finish.
For your own grand slam in saisons, Great Divide and Boulevard Brewing Co.’s beers are available in 20+ states.
Kathleen Slauzis is a craft beer enthusiast from Indianapolis, IN. She has been learning the ins and outs of the beer and the brewing business for the past four years. You can also find her work on http://IndianaBeer.com/ where she focuses on local craft breweries and follow her on Twitter as @KJLSlauzis.