Friday Froth: 3 Cold Beers For A Hot Day

James Gribbon

No. Just no, NYC commissioner of the Department of Health, Mary Bassett - I will not avoid drinking beer on scorching hot summer days. Yes, I will drink some water, because I am not an idiot, but you can take a cold beer from my (still mostly warm), dead hand. Thankfully, this is 'murica, where many a dilapidated package store is hung with signs advertising the coldest beer in town (following Strong Bad's motto: "A One That Isn't Cold Is Scarcely A One At All"), thus saving us all from aloe vera vitamin drinks and the resultant loss of will to live. 

A crisp beer on a hot day is a joy forever, as the poet probably said, so this week we're going to check out three hot weather beers, canned for your lawn mower riding, golf bag stuffing, back yard sitting pleasure. 

Otter Creek Brewing in Middlebury, Vermont has greatly expanded their portfolio in recent months, and Fresh Slice White IPA is their main summer jam. White IPAs, like Honeyspot Road from Two Roads, are made with a bit of wheat to go along with the barley and, also like the Two Roads version, Fresh Slice is made using Belgian yeast. Otter Creek loosened the chain on brewmaster Mike Gerhart, whose freer hand added coriander and clementine to the recipe, resulting in a beer the color of your standard wit, but with noticeable floaters of yeast and pulp. Pour it in a glass, and a frothy white head fluffs up and stays. 

Fresh Slice has big coriander, plus a little hops, to the nose, and it's smooth and peppery on the first swig. The malts aren't strong at all, and stay slightly bready while being enlivened by the spice. Given a glass of this in a blind taste test, I'd probably call it a saison. The clementine comes through in a slight bitterness, more like the oils a bartender would express from a peel, rather than a real fruit sweetness. Fresh Slice is actually pretty low on the bitterness scale, though, at only 45IBUs, and its 5.5% is likewise modest in alcohol. Feel free to have a few on a hot day, they're available all over the place. 

East Windsor, Connecticut's own Broad Brook Brewing makes a slightly more traditional witbier they call Pink Dragon. It pours the color of clouds at dusk, thanks to a short boil including dried hibiscus flowers, however it's not overly aromatic. The Dragon's flavor is smooth and wheaty on the tongue, and the actual feel is sparked right up with pronounced carbonation. This isn't too much of a statistical outlier where wits are concerned, but it did make Pink Dragon slightly reminiscent of drinking a sparkling wine, and a pint seriously hit the spot when served cold on a hot and humid afternoon. 

OK, I just realized there's not a single hoppy option in the column this week, and this next beer is like the other two multiplied together, but we're wrapping this up with Stony Creek Sun Juice. This wheated Belgian summer ale is made with orange and grapefruit peels, coriander and chamomile, but the nose is just slightly yeasty, and mostly smells like wheat. It's surprisingly dry on the tongue at first, but is rounded off by a bit of grain and a whisper of citrus. It's interestingly clean in spite of all those ingredients, and the aftertaste tends to be mostly just that Belgian yeast. I could definitely sink several cans of this at the end of a hot day and, at 5.3%, even the ABV is mild. 

The Belgians have been making mildly alcoholic hot weather beers since years A.D. first started having four digits so, yeah: I think they have a place in the muggy, east coast summers of the 21st century. I'm going to drink them - and IPAs, ESBs, and more than a few negronis - before the nights lengthen and cool off. Today's first one goes out to you, Ms. Bassett - try and stop me.