Summer Suds Shortlist
July 13, 2008

I think beer is getting a little out of control. It all started with the Bud Light Lime, which is an okay idea, I guess. I mean, I'd much rather jam my own lime slice down the long neck of a Corona, but for the lazier out there who don't mind the taste of artificial lime mixed in with their frat beer? God bless. Yes, they say it's "100% natural lime," but they had to stabilize the juice for shelf life and filter it for clarity, so not sure how much natural is left.

However, Michelob has really gone overboard with their Ultra flavors, because Lime Cactus? Pomegranate Raspberry? TUSCAN ORANGE GRAPEFRUIT? Are these beers or wine coolers? Look, if you didn't want your mass-produced, skanky beer not to taste like mass-produced, skanky beer, here's a tip: stop making mass-produced, skanky beer!

Meanwhile, there are a ton of summer sippers out there just waiting to be quaffed. Here's my shortlist of summer suds:

Wailua Wheat, Kona Brewing Company (Kona, HI): Made by Kona Brewing in Hawaii and raved about here. In a nutshell, it's hoppy and fruity but not fruity like a fruit beer. The passionfruit is more of a kiss than a belt across the mouth. Also? It was featured in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. (You know you drink a lot of beer when you can recognize a beer by the neck label on a small television screen.)

Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema, Anderson Valley Brewing Company (Booneville, CA): I discovered Summer Solstice on a hot San Diego taco night. The spiced meat released the cold, creamy soul of the beer. If a root beer float were made with actual beer, it would be Summer Solstice.

Mothership Wit, New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, CO): Bright, white, and organic, Mothership is brewed with both wheat and barley malt along with a feisty dabble of bitter orange peel and coriander.

Skinny Dip, New Belgium Brewing (Fort Collins, CO): The bikini-friendly answer to New Belgium's classic Fat Tire. Skinny Dip is lower in calories and alcohol content but just as big and hoppy in the mouth. The light smudge of kaffir lime makes you happy to be alive.

Golden Monkey, Victory Brewing Company (Downington, PA): Spiky and weird, the beer bubbles in this pour are pure Belgian-style tripel. It sparkles in both your mouth and belly with a yeast-ful power that batters back even the stickiest of temps.

Sam Adams Summer Ale (Boston, MA): A wheat beer brewed with grains of paradise and citrus peel, making it lovely with an overstuffed lobster roll and a walk on a singing beach.

Racer 5, Bear Republic Brewery (Healdsburg, CA): Unashamedly hoppy, this is definitely a beer for all seasons, but something about the heady strength makes it ultimate refreshment on a sweaty day or heavy night.

Magic Hat No. 9 (Burlington, VT): There's a strange but wonderful hint of summer stone fruit in this pale-ish ale, which the brewery itself calls "impossible to describe because there's never been anything else quite like it." I long for my East Coast life when No. 9 was stocked in my fridge and pray Magic Hat makes its delicious way West some day.

Originally published at KQED's Bay Area Bites

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