Summer is definitely here. With temperatures into the 90s and the humidity turning the air into a sauna, it is time to put on the shorts and flip-flops and accept that the heat is here to stay for awhile. Summer craft beers are available now, and offer a refreshing and flavorful alternative to the macro-brewed "fizzy yellow water" that is so often foisted upon us.
During the dog days of summer, few are looking to the heavier brews like stouts or porters, so many reach for these seasonal releases. Summer beers are light, refreshing brews and tend to be light in body, lower in alcohol, and more "sessionable." Flavors run the gamut, but seem to lean more toward wheats and fruits, refreshing notes for the hot climate. Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont, has released its Summer Scene variety pack that offers some great choices, but as usual, they put their own twist on it.
This sampler pack adds two new beers to the Magic Hat family. While they are known mostly for their apricot-infused flagship #9 Beer (included in the sampler), there has been quite a bit of buzz about the Wacko, released last year and continued this summer as well. The Wacko Summer Seasonal uses real beet extract for a portion of the fermentable sugars, lending a cherry red color to the beer and a pinkish hue to the head. It does not come through in the aroma or flavor though. This beer has little hop bitterness to speak of, and is highly carbonated. Light malt aroma dominates, with not much else. This may come across as a slam, but it is not intended as such: the flavor is reminiscent of the fresh tapped American lagers that used to be poured in the hospitality houses at Busch Gardens years ago. It's not a bad beer by any means, though. It drinks fresh and lively, and on a hot summer day is quite a refreshing beer.
Continuing with their "I.P.A. on Tour" campaign, the Blind Faith Summer IPA is a very good addition to the line. Pouring a light amber color and with a beige head, the citrus and pine aroma from the hops comes through very nicely. With an IBU rating of 60, this has to be one of the more heavily hopped beers from Magic Hat, and a significant improvement over their last IPA release, Demo. The flavors are a well-balanced blend of crisp, sweet maltiness and a citrusy, bitter hoppiness. It is very refreshing; the carbonation is spot on and the 6.2-percent ABV is well concealed. This beer is available in the Summer Scene 12-pack as well as on its own in 6-packs. It is only available until July 31, so get it while you can.
The other new addition is Single Chair. Depending on where you look, this is listed as a "Golden," a cream ale or a Pilsner, but it definitely drinks like a crisp lager. This beer was brewed originally as a Winter seasonal for the Mad River Glen ski resort in Vermont, and was only offered on tap. For the first time, it is now in bottles and is perfectly suited for the hot summer days of Florida. Pouring a very light golden color and a frothy white head, the aroma is pilsner malt and and very light citrus. The crispness is tempered by some sweet malt on the tongue, and the carbonation is just enough to keep the touch of spice balanced. Very little hops noticeable and the ABV only comes in at 5 percent. A perfect beer for the back deck while grilling, lounging by the pool or on the boat, and an excellent alternative to the Bud/Miller/Coors choices.