Saturday, March 13, 2010

256. The Summer Beer Leftover Trifecta

In one of our periodic cleaning-out-of-the-basement stints, we came across these beers tucked away in a box. Why did I stick them in the basement? Who the hell knows? All I know is that we've got three “seasonally challenged” beers. So what do you do when that happens? There’s really only one logical and correct answer: Summer Beer Leftover Trifecta.

Saranac Summer Brew:
Described on the label as a mix of lager and lemonade, Saranac Summer Brew has a grainy and lemony nose with a crystal clear straw color. Starting lemony sugar sweet, Summer Brew moves into a tart even middle and finishes grainy and slightly stale. Light-bodied and crisp; the carbonation is light but sharp and bright. Overall, a bit too sticky sweet for us—none of the tart bite of the lemonade has survived; it tastes too much like a cooler and not a beer, even taking into consideration the shandy background of this beer—we’ve had better shandies. This one’s so bad, we’re making it a Top 10 Worst contender.

From the Saranac website: “For nearly 100 years, Europeans have mixed lemonade and beer as a refreshing beverage during the summer months. We continue this tradition with Saranac Summer Brew – a refreshing blend of lemonade and lager. Kick back, relax, and enjoy!”

ABV: 3.5%

Goose Island Summertime:
Summertime has a malty, papery nose with a bit of residual sweetness, a clear gold color, and a thin white head. Beginning with a mix of malt sweetness and dryness combined with small amounts of grainy and paper flavors, Summertime’s middle mostly fades into the finish, which is dry and lightly tart—the refreshing Kölsch tang that marks the style—and generally clean with a low amount of bitterness rounding out the beer. Medium to light bodied with a soft profile and a crisp bite from the carbonation at the end. Clean, fresh, and enjoyable, and a pleasant surprise in our current line up.

From the Goose Island website: “The color of sunshine, with a light fruity aroma and a hint of fruity acidity, Goose Island Summertime is the perfect summer session ale. A Kölsch beer brewed in the traditional German fashion, you’ll find yourself enjoying and savoring each sip of summertime as much as you do those hot summer days and cool summer nights.”

ABV: 4.7%
IBU: 20
Malt: 2-row and Wheat
Hops: Mt. Hood and Saaz

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis:
Kellerweis has a banana clove nose with a decent amount of malt sweetness to back up the yeast ester and phenol aromas; pouring a hazy gold, it has a white head. Opening malty and citrusy with low level of spiciness—the banana and clove are a bit overpowering—Kellerweis hits more yeast ester flavors in the middle, rising into an estery sweet citrus finish that lingers with the bitterness at the end. Kellerweis is medium bodied with good carbonation and a rounded flavor that is dominated by the yeast ester and phenol characteristics, although it is a bit sticky in the mouthfeel. Good beer, but not working too well on a cold wet night—this one does seem to be better for summer drinking.

From the Sierra Nevada website: “Kellerweis is one of the only American Hefeweizens made using the traditional Bavarian style of open fermentation. This difficult and labor-intensive technique adds uncommon depth and flavor complexity. Our hazy-golden hefeweizen is deeply flavorful, refreshing and perfect for a sunny day. To serve, pour two-thirds into a glass, swirl and pour the rest.”

ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 15
OG: 12.3° P
FG: 3.5° P
Malt: 2-row, Wheat, and Munich
Hops: Perle or Sterling

Gold Medal: Goose Island Summertime
Silver Medal: Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
Bronze Medal: Saranac Summer Brew

We both agree that we’d never drink Saranac Summer Brew ever again if we could help it; with the other two, we’d be willing to give them a second shot: we’d accept Sierra Nevada Kellerweis as a suitable free beer at a party, and we’d even go so far as to order Goose Island Summertime at a baseball game, or even possibly buy a 6-pack this coming summer to see how it stacks up on a hot summer afternoon.

Summer Beer Leftover Trifecta Suicide:
Since we had leftovers of all three, we decided to combine them and see what happened. Elli finds the combination “moderately O.K.” She might even prefer the mix to any one of the three beers—for her, it cuts down the sickly sweetness of Summer Brew and Kellerweis, and balances out the banana and clove of Kellerweis. While it is still “a bit too Sprite-like” in the finish, she still likes the net result of combining the three beers. I would agree for the most part—we’ve lost the sickly cooler flavor of Summer Brew, and the banana and clove has been brought into check, but the sugary-sweet ending limits the success of the combination—I’d still take Goose Island Summertime over the Summer Beer Leftover Trifecta Suicide combination.


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