If you’ve been following us on Twitter, you’ve probably heard me say quite a few times, “perfect beer for summer!” I’m starting to lose track of all these summer beers I’m recommending, so I thought I’d try and compile them all for you here. Feel free to chime in with your favorite summer beers.
New Belgium Tart Lychee – Definitely one of my new favorite beers. I fully admit that I don’t exactly know what lychee tastes like, but the fruitiness in this beer reminds me of cranberry, grape, and a little bit of pear. The sweet fruitiness in the beer gives a little bit of a crisp, tart edge upfront, making it taste a little like a flavored lemonade. Just the right amount of cinnamon is added as well giving a lightly spicy finish. Surprisingly, this is 8.5% alcohol, but the dry body and slightly sweet, slightly sour taste hides it well.
Maui Brewing Sobrehumano Palena ‘ole – This is a collaboration beer made with Jolly Pumpkin. The current version that is available is Maui’s version. This is a red ale made with liliko’i (some Hawaiian fruit) and cherries. The fruit gives this beer a nice tart flavor, but not as tart as New Belgium’s Tart Lychee. Again the light, crisp body and subtle fruitiness make this a very refreshing beer.
Stone Smoked Porter W/ Chipotle Peppers/Vanilla Bean – Stone has just released these two variations of their popular Smoked Porter. One is similar to an ice cream beer float, the other is similar to a Mexican molé sauce. However, hese smokey, delicious bastards are not available in Nevada. If you’ve ever had one of these at a beer festival, then you know that it is worth the trip to Southern California.
New Belgium Shift – This is basically the perfect “anytime” beer. It’s in a can, so you can safely take it anywhere. Perfect replacement for a cheap, light lager. This is a dry, crisp lager with a nice cracker like malt character and it is firmly hopped for a nice bitter edge. The light body and alcohol content makes this ideal for drinking outside when it’s over 100 degrees.
Uinta Baba Black Lager – All the benefits of a lager: light body, dry, and crisp; with all the benefits of a dark beer: roasty, malt flavor and goes great with the dark, charred bits of barbecued food.
One more, because I can never have enough favorite beers:
Stone Levitation – This is a low alcohol, session ale. The 4.4% alcohol content is similar to a Coors Light, but the difference being that this beer has a healthy dose of hops and colorful malt bill, giving this beer the same refreshing, light body of a light lager, but with a surprisingly complex flavor.
*All photos came from the respective breweries’ websites.
India Pale Ale. Better known as it’s modern day, and less historically accurate cousin, IPA. One of the most popular craft beer styles in America, especially here on the west coast. In 2011, I had 52 different IPAs total. Of these 52 different IPA’s, I’ve managed to choose my favorite 10 that I had the pleasure of consuming this year. And by 10, I really mean 17. Enjoy, in no particular order:
Dogfish Head 120 Minute/90 Minute/60 Minute IPA/Aprihop
This might look like 4 different beers, but to me I see 4 different variations of the same beer. These are the most approachable of the IPAs, with more so a strong hop aroma and flavor rather than bitterness.
The 60 and 90 are available year round. The 120 is only available a handful of times a year, and is hard to find when it is. Aces and Ales happened to get it on tap and Whole Foods and Khoury’s sold out of the bottles immediately. Aprihop is a variation of the 60 Minute with apricots thrown in, available in the spring time.
Stone Cali-Belgique IPA/IPA
Stone IPA is one of my favorite IPAs and a great example of the “west-coast style IPA.” This is a strongly bitter beer with a bright, citrusy aroma. It is available nearly everywhere that sells beer and on tap at nearly all the PTs as well as Millers Alehouse and Yardhouse.
Cali-Belgique is the same beer, but made with a Belgian yeast strain. This is the best Belgian style IPA I’ve had. The Belgian yeast adds a little bit more fruitiness to the beer that compliments the citrus flavors.
Despite being a year-round brew for Stone, Cali-Belgique can only be periodically found in Las Vegas.
Lagunita’s Sucks Holiday Ale
Probably the heaviest hop aroma of all these beers, this IPA is incredible. Loads of sweet, citrusy aroma. Very sweet and smooth body and very drinkable.
This is only a seasonal ale that was brewed in place of Brown Shugga’. This is still available in bottles around town and is currently on tap at Tenaya Creek Brewery.
Coronado Cask Idiot IPA
Neither the cask version, or the normal version is available in Las Vegas. I had this beer in San Diego. I never had the normal version, but the cask version was probably the smoothest IPA I’ve had. It wasn’t overly bitter and had a bit less aroma then the other IPA’s on this list. Being as it was on cask however, is what made this beer stand out from the rest. Soft texture, lightly carbonated and full of earthy, piny hop flavor.
Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin IPA/Sculpin IPA
Sculpin IPA is one of the highest rated IPA’s on Untappd. It is another “west coast style” IPA in that it has a strong bitter bite with huge grapefruit flavors and aromas.
Ballast Point recently started distributing to Las Vegas, but are keeping Sculpin in California.
If you visit the brewery in San Diego, they may have Habanero Sculpin on tap. This is a version of Sculpin with habanero peppers thrown in. The pepper flavors compliment the hop bitterness perfectly, and it adds a nice burning finish!
Baird/Ishii/Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA
A truly incredible and unique beer. This one had mixed reviews from people as they felt that the citrusy hops didn’t go well with florally aroma and tea flavor. Like I said, it’s very unique and I thought it was awesome. Sadly, it was only brewed once and was never available in Las Vegas.
Maui Flyin’ Hi.P.Hay/21st Amendment Hop Crisis
Technically two different beers from two different breweries, but I’m grouping these together as they were both amazing IPAs and both from cans. Both had amazing hop aroma bursting out of the can and a great citrusy flavor.
Maui Flyin’ Hi.P.Hay is apparently a limited release beer, but I feel like I saw it in town recently. Maybe not?
21st Amendment Hop Crisis is also a limited release beer and sadly, the brewery does not distribute to Nevada.
Dogfish Head Hellhound on my Ale
As you can tell, many of these IPAs are being described as “citrusy.” This beer actually was brewed with lemons! As such, it had a nice sweet lemony flavor pairing with the harsher citrus bite from the hops.
This was a special release beer commemorating blues guitarist Robert Johnson. It was brewed twice last year and may still be available in town.
Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA
Variation of the IPA style, a black IPA is both hoppy and roasty. This particular beer is probably the greatest black IPA there is. Very full bodied, soft texture and a wall of leafy hop aroma.
Brewed this summer for Stone’s 15 anniversary, there are no plans to brew this again. Good news is that it’s still available in town. I recently saw it at both Khoury’s and the Las Vegas Blvd Whole Foods. If you can’t find it, then you should try…
Stone Double Dry Hopped Sublimely Self Righteous Ale/Sublimely Self Righteous Ale
This beer is available year round in bottles and can be found on tap at Yardhouse. Sublimely Self Righteous Ale is very similar to Stone’s 15 Anniversary ale except there is a little less alcohol and less body making this less filling and more drinkable. Still has the wall of hop aroma that hits you right before your first sip, this is one of my favorite beers!
Earlier this year Aces and Ales had a double dry hopped variation. What this means is that there was even more hop aroma bursting out of the glass, making this an even more flavorful beer than it already is!
All of the above images were taken from the respective brewers’ websites.