Hot Summer Sipping
There is nothing quite like an icy cold beer on a hot summer day. Beers are made in a variety of styles and flavor profiles, with seasonal specialty beers produced in limited quantities to enjoy with foods and weather of a particular season. Summer beers, lighter in flavors with added spices or fruits, are produce for less filling cuisines and hot weather. Look out! They are on the shelves of local retailers.
There are really only two types of beers: Ales and lagers, differing in the way they ferment during production. Ales are top fermenters, and can complete the fermentation process in a few days. Ales ferment at higher temperatures, between 68 and 76 degrees. An ale will be a heavier bodied and deeper-colored with higher alcohol content than a lager. Lagers are bottom fermenters, with the fermenting stage lasting between one to three months at much colder temperatures. Lagers are lighter in color, crisper in flavors, with much less hoppiness and malt.
The type of hops and grains used to produce a beer will influence the flavor profile. Hops are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent. Hops contain several characteristics favorable to beer, balancing the sweetness of the malt with bitterness, contributing flowery, citrus, fruity or herbal aromas, and having an antibiotic effect that favors the activity of brewers yeast. Many different varieties of hops are grown by farmers around the world. Hops have to be dried before they can be used in the brewing process.The flavor imparted by hops varies by type and use: hops boiled with the beer produce bitterness, hops added later impart some degree of hop aroma. Adding hops after the beer has fermented is known as dry hopping, and adds hop aroma, but no bitterness. Flavors and aromas are described appreciatively using terms which include grassy,” floral, citrus, spicy, piney.Most commercial lagers have low hop influence, while true pilsners should have noticeable hop aroma. Certain ales, such as India Pale Ales, or IPAs, will display high levels of bitterness.Pale lagers are usually brewed with European hops, English ales use hop varieties such as Fuggle, Golding and Bullion. North American varieties include Cascade, Columbia, Willamette and Amarillo. Each hop strain will present a distinct flavor profile. Beer is usually produced from a malted barley and sometimes rice, wheat or corn are used to produce the sugars for the fermentation. Brewers yeast is added to complete the fermentation process. Then spices, fruits or other flavors can be added to produce a special brew.
A summer beer should be light, crisp, and refreshing. and food-friendly. They begin appearing in stores around Memorial Day. Sip some of the following. Our local brewery, Fifty-Fifty, in Truckee produces a Belgian-style wheat beer, Foggy Goggle Belgian White, that is brewed using a Belgium yeast strain, with the addition of lemon and orange peel and a hint of Chamomile, creating a very refreshing brew. Sierra Nevada Summer Brew is lighter than their ever-popular Pale Ale, while still showing a complex flavor profile with a slight hoppiness. This Pilsner-style beer is very smooth and refreshing. Red Hook is offering a Sunrye Summer Ale this season. It is light and golden, with a refreshing flavor. It is brewed using six malts, including rye and wheat, and Cascadian hops to give it a nice bite. Anderson Valleys summer brew is called Cerveza Crema. This light-bodied summer brew is smooth and malty, with a hint of spice and a distinct creamy mouth-feel. Serve this beer well chilled at 40- 45 degrees. The list can go on and on.One could plausibly spend all summer trying new seasonal beers before finding the one beer that suits. Fortunately for us, this weekend the Truckee Optimist Club is holding their Third Annual Brew Fest at the Truckee Regional Park. There will be over 20 micro- breweries present, offering samples of summer specialty brews and normal line-ups. There will be food, music and all the proceeds go to local youth scholarships and activities. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. The sipping runs from 1 to 5 p.m. The Optimist provide complimentary non-alcoholic beverages for all the designated drivers, and there also will be taxi service on site that day. Remember, this will be an adult event, no one under 21 will be allowed in. For more information call 587-8720.
Janice Jones is a Truckee resident and wine consultant. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org