Nothing says summer -- in a good way -- like beer. And so as a public service to our readers, we at Chow Bella sat down with 20 or so different beers and conducted a completely unscientific study to determine the best.
In no particular order, we present the Top 10 beers for Summer 2010
Alaskan Brewing Company: Summer Kölsch-Style Ale
Part of our plan was to pick up as many beers with the word "summer" in the titles as we could. This one lives up to its name. Not the most complex taste, but fresh, crisp, and undeniably thirst quenching. Set up the grill, get an ice box, and fill it with this summer ale. You'll be thanking yourself.
Breckenridge Brewery: Agave Wheat Ale
While "agave" is this beer's hook, we didn't discern much agave at all. But this wheat ale is smooth and crisp, and doesn't fall flat. This is without a doubt a beer to have by the grill. Despite not living up to what its supposed to be, the beer is wonderfully pleasant.
Kona Brewing Company: WAILUA
This limited release "Wheat ale brewed with passion fruit" doesn't actually taste much like a wheat ale, as much as a lager. Again, that's fine by us. With a light fruity smell, the passion fruit is noticeable most in its taste -- a nice surprise. The biggest plus is that this beer is very refreshing, keeping true to its waterfall image.
Dogfish Head: Aprihop
It claims to be "a serious India Pale Ale," but let's be honest: anything to do with apricots can't really be so "serious." As an IPA, it is on the lighter side of hoppiness. In addition to the apricot, it has hints of orange peel. It turned out to be the best-smelling beer of the bunch.
Bell's Brewery: Oberon Ale
Likely named after the king of fairies from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, this is a solid wheat ale, with clear hints of citrus and a slightly cloudy look. Simple and uncomplicated, who wouldn't want a beer with the "scent of a summer afternoon"?
Sierra Nevada: Summerfest Lager
For a notably pils-influenced lager, Summerfest is both complex and smooth that you feel like you're drinking something fancy. This will pair off nicely with meals of all kinds, from salads to BBQ ribs. Tastes light, but feels medium-bodied; and with a nice fizzy carbonation, it has a comforting smell that'll keep you coming back for more.
Abita Brewing Company: Abita Wheat Lager
For those beer drinkers who prefer the lightest of the light, they should go with Abita. It seems to be this beer's modus operandi to be simply light and crisp. Don't get distracted by the 'wheat' name. This is a wheat lager, not an ale, which accounts for the clearness of the beer. It goes down incredibly smoothly.
The Grand Canyon Brewing Company: Sunset Amber Ale
A beer for the evening, this deeply flavorful and full-bodied ale lives up to the romance of its name's imagery. This is not one to drink in the heat of the Arizona sun, but calmly, with some air conditioning and in a comfortable winged-back chair. Or your couch. This ale is a worthy rival of another...
Oak Creek Brewing Company: Amber Ale
More crisp and sweeter than the Sunset Amber, this ale is medium-bodied and pairs better with meals, particularly red meats--with a light caramel touch.
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Four Peaks Brewing Company: Kiltlifter Scottish-Style Ale
We didn't expect to add a Scottish ale to the list, since they don't really make me think of refreshment. Kiltlifter does have the smokiness, the maltiness, the toastedness, all a Scottish ale should be. But, this one does not overwhelm. You can drink several and continue to be satisfied, day and night.
That's it, folks. What are you waiting for? Get to the liquor store.