Presenting our Top 10 Summer Beers

Published on: June 10th, 2010

Summer is no time to mess around.

There’s work to be done and where there’s work, there damn well better be beer; ice cold and in sufficient quantity to beat back the baking heat of the day. But when gulping ice cold beer, a man must still be able to deftly maneuver his cutting machine around the wife’s azaleas and avoid giving little Debbie’s Barbie in the yard the Freddie Krueger treatment. This calls for the Right Stuff.

Just as you wouldn’t try gaping a spark plug with a church key, don’t go trying to cool off with a Russian Imperial Stout. The last thing you need is a heavy, overly hoppy, alcohol-laden beer that takes you straight to hangover mode in the sweltering heat of the midday sun. No, you need a beer that you can quaff with ease, again and again that doesn’t leave you with an injury-inducing buzz.

So you can arm yourself with the right tools for the job, I have—after much liver-straining research—assembled a Top 10 Summer Brews list. Here you’ll find quenching refreshment that won’t cloud your ability to manhandle that mower or finesse the hedge trimmer around the shrubs. These brews are somewhat lighter in alcohol, but not in flavor or character, and lend themselves to ice cold quantitative consumption.

1. Raspberry Wheat,
Twisted Pine
(4% Alcohol By Volume) This award-winning brew has raspberry aroma and flavor to spare. Effervescent, mildly tart and clean on the finish, a frosty pint or two is just the ticket for on-the-job refreshment.

2. Good Juju Ginger,
Left Hand Brewing
(4.2 % ABV) The bracing ginger aroma is followed by a mouth full of crisp ginger flavor that is perfectly balanced with the malt. Think of it as an old fashioned ginger ale for grown-ups.
3. Hoss Rye Lager,
Great Divide Brewing
(6.2 % ABV) Don’t let the mahogany color fool you; the clean, malty flavor of this smooth, medium-bodied lager finishes crisp and dry, making it a perfect choice for those wanting to quench a big thirst with big flavor.

4. White Rascal, Avery Brewing
(5.6% ABV) This unfiltered Belgian-style white ale has lots of citrus aroma and spicy flavor from judicious use of coriander and orange peel, but is only mildly carbonated, so big pulls on a cold one won’t leave you gassy.

5. Paragon Apricot Blond,
Dry Dock Brewing
(5.3 % ABV) Lots of fruit flavor expertly married with hops and malt makes for a delicious, light and refreshing beer. Sadly, only available in growlers from the taproom (15120 E. Hampden Ave., Aurora).

6. Mothership Wit,
New Belgium Brewing
(4.8 % AVB) True to style, the clove, banana and citrus aroma (and ensuing flavors) strike just the right balance. Keep this baby at or below 40 degrees F and you’ve got a flavorful antidote to what ales you.

7. Sweaty Betty Blond,
Boulder Beer
(5.9 % AVB) The tart citrus notes and faint Hallertau hops blend nicely with the banana flavors to make for a deeply satisfying brew that’s good from the first long pull to the last. Chores never tasted so good.

8. Agave Wheat,
Breckenridge Brewery
(4.2 % ABV) The inclusion of agave nectar in this otherwise mild version of an unfiltered American wheat gives this delightful brew a lightness and flavor that is truly unique; and massively drinkable.

9. Honey Moon Summer Ale,
Blue Moon Brewing
(5.6 % ABV) The addition of Madhava honey from Lyons adds some sweetness to the otherwise dry finish of this pale wheat ale. Keep it cold, though; the sweetness becomes cloying the warmer it gets.

10. Jah’Mon Ginger,
Mountain Sun
(5.5 % ABV) Plan ahead, grab a growler and put it on ice. The big ginger nose (with a hint of orange and lemongrass) is followed by a bold ginger flavor and squeaky clean finish. This will see you through cleaning the garage. Multiple locations, visit mountainsunpub.com.

Honorable mentions:
Any time you’re outside, working up a sweat and doing your best to keep the heat at bay, proper containment is important. That’s why cans are the clear way forward in rugged environments like the garden, yard or garage. With that in mind, you can’t go wrong with cold cans of Mamma’s Little Yella Pils from Oskar Blues, Pale Ale from Upslope Brewing or Railyard Ale from Wynkoop Brewing. Also, keep an eye out for additional canned offerings from Great Divide and Twisted Pine in coming months.

Gluten-free for refreshment
For those unlucky folks with Celiac Disease or who have purged gluten from their diets, that sadly includes beer because it’s made with barley, wheat and/or rye. But the folks at Boulder-based New Planet have concocted a brew made with sorghum. Brewed at Fort Collins Brewery, the gluten-free beer is called Tread Lightly Ale (available at many area liquor stores thanks to a distribution agreement with Republic National). Missing of course are any hints of malt aroma or flavor. But there is a grainy aroma not unlike a Budweiser, which mixes rice into its mash. The flavor is crisp, bordering on astringent and with just enough hop bitterness and flavor to give it a faintly sour, yeasty aftertaste. It will be interesting to see how future versions like a 3R Raspberry Ale and Off the Grid IPA turn out.
 
You Go Girls
Avery Brewing has launched its version of a women-only beer education and tasting group, the Sisterhood of the Hop. Limited to 30 people (RSVP to Caitlyn Tuel; ctuel@hotmail.com), there will be a nominal charge for the beer and whatever other goodies (food, sweets, etc.) are served. Intended to give women a better understanding of beer, its components and food pairing options, the group will feature guest speakers at its monthly meetings held at 1pm the first Sunday of each month in the Avery Taproom.

Burning Can
To celebrate the growing culture of canned craft beer, Oskar Blues is hosting the inaugural Burning Can from 1–4pm June 26 at Sandstone Park in Lyons. Proceeds from the event (tickets are $35 and include all sorts of good schwag) will benefit the Colorado Brewers Guild, which has been locked in a perennial legislative battle with grocery stores looking to sell full-strength beer. Oskar Blues could have had this event to itself a year ago, but now there will be up to 15 beers on hand, including one ounce offerings (poured from cans) from Upslope, New Belgium, Ska, Breckenridge, Wynkoop, Steamworks, Silverton and Pug Ryans.

I break for Breck
Come celebrate Breckenridge Brewery’s 20th anniversary with live music, outstanding food, cool schwag, an old fashioned pig roast and, of course, one-of-a-kind brews that are the product of two decades of experience on Saturday, July 10 at 471 Kalamath St. in Denver. Details were getting settled at our deadline, so check out breckbrew.com for particulars.

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