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Summer suds


Longer days bring lighter beers.

Greg Horton May 23rd, 2012

The first batch of summer beers has hit the metro, and the unifying themes are malt and citrus.

Summer beers are supposed to be lighter and more refreshing than those for other seasons, so hops are not prominent in these new arrivals. The goal is to deliver light, clean beers that don’t weigh down the palate.

Mustang Brewing Co., a local brewer, released Mustang Summer Lager, marking the first time the company will have all four seasonal beers for the year. The Summer Lager is a Munich Helles Lager, which brewmaster Gary Shellman called “a tribute of sorts” to his son, who was born in Munich.

He calls the lager a malt showcase. “There is malt on the nose, up-front and on the finish, and there is just enough hops to provide underlying balance.”

The Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, uses Rio Red grapefruits from the Rio Grande Valley to produce its Ruby Redbird. This one probably isn’t for everyone, but those who love it, really love it. It has aggressive carbonation, sweet flavors and a noticeable ginger component. If you think about it as ginger ale mixed with grapefruit beer, it might work for an after-the-lawn-is-mowed reward.

Anchor Brewing in San Francisco consistently produces high-quality beer. Its Anchor Summer Beer, a filtered, American-style wheat beer, is no exception. The Anchor is intentionally all malt, especially malted wheat, so there are prominent wheat aromas. Its flavors are layered, with bread, lemon, fresh-cut grass and orange peel the most obvious.

Speaking of citrus, Leinenkugel’s, a Wisconsin brewery, has a fruit beer for the summer. Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy is closer to lemonade than beer, at least in terms of taste. It’s light and sweet with mild carbonation. No hops are present on the nose or palate. Simple, straightforward and delicious, this one is easy-drinking.

Portland, Ore.-based Bridgeport Brewing Co. opts for a seasonal bright ale. The Summer Squeeze is malty on the nose. In the glass, citrus flavors — especially lemon and orange — emerge. The finish is clean and crisp, and the overall effect is very refreshing.

Newcastle, best known for its brown ale, also produces a summer ale, but it’s not up to the quality of the brown. Newcastle Summer Ale is dry and slightly bitter, with excessive malt that isn’t well-balanced by lemon and honey flavors.

Additional summer beers will be arriving over the next few weeks, but all of these are currently available in the metro. Find them at McNellie’s, 1100 Classen Drive; Tapwerks, 121 E. Sheridan; and Abner’s Ale House, 121 E. Main in Norman. Broadway Wine Merchants, 824 N. Broadway, has all of them conveniently stacked up front.

 
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