A Summary of summer ales. And lagers.
Sitting at the laptop early on the third straight day of +35 degree heat is a great way to really appreciate the thirst-quenching qualities of a pleasant ale. What better time to take a look at some of the summer beers sitting in fridges as we speak waiting for Beer O’clock.
We are blessed in this wide, brown land to have the broad range of beers offered by so many talented brewing teams, many of whom have created new seasonals with which to whet the appetite of the drinker. Here are just some of the many summer beers waiting for your rating. I offer them here as beers I have sampled but in no particular order. I can’t do everything for you.
Dog Days Summer Ale 4.4%– Little Creatures
The second in Little Creatures Seasonal series, Dog Days ticks the boxes where flavour and refreshment are concerned. Where some summer-style beers might mute the hop character in the interests of being sessionable or approachable, the brew team at Fremantle, led by Russ Gosling, have punched out a cracker. A pleasantly malty beginning turns spicy and floral with a generous kick of Cascade, Summit and Mosaic at the finish.
For those wondering, Dog Days refers to the star Sirius, or Orion’s Dog, the appearance of which the Greeks believed signalled the extreme heat of late summer. History. And beer.
India Summer Pale Ale 4.2% – 4 Pines
Number six in the core line up from the best thing to come out of Manly since the ferry, this is the first offering in the increasingly-popular can format. A very easy-drinking ale but with enough subtle malt and hop character for those patient enough to listen for it and all wrapped up in a delightfully quaffable 4.2% package. A cleverly crafted beer for those who want a bit more hop than the Kolsch offers without the punch of the Pale.
An ‘Indian Summer’ is the weather phenomenon characterised by sunny and clear skies with above normal temperatures, probably coined by the early American settlers who thought the natives were Indian. In Australia it refers to the regular visits by the Indian cricket team and their supporters, characterised by very loud and out-of-tune brass and percussion sections in the stands.
Furphy Refreshing Ale 4.4% – Little Creatures
As if to make a statement of intent in its new home of Geelong, an hour or so from Melbourne, Little Creatures set about brewing a beer for the locals to call their own. Furphy is an all-Victorian affair with Vic Secret and Topaz stamping a mellow but noticeable clean-bittered finish to what is otherwise a very nice Kolsch-style ale. Polar opposite from its more well-known stablemate, Pale Ale, Furphy still boasts plenty of fruit flavours and aroma in a well-balanced sharing ale.
Furphy refers to the Shepparton manufacturer of water wagons used by the AIF troops during World War 1. They became gathering points at which to share intel and tall tales. A ‘Furphy’ has come to mean a story of doubtful veracity, but probably based on truth. The more Furphy Ales, the taller the tales!
Bicycle Beer 4.2%– Temple Brewing Co
Not necessarily a new summer release but one that has found a home in more places this year. In the general style of an American Wheat (that’s the yeast) but with the easy quaffability of a bright Australian Pale, Bicycle throws the personalities of seven hops into the mix as well as a dose of Grampians pink salt. Spice, sweetness, floral notes and a tight but drying bitter finish it will give you your session with room left over to cycle back home.
Studies show that cycling 30 minutes per week halves your risk of heart disease and stroke. The happy thoughts generated because you’re cycling to Temple in Brunswick East for a beer probably halves that risk again.
Summer Saison 4.0% – Modus Operandi
A brewery that doesn’t mind brewing a saison (a Pash & Dash under the harbour bridge at midnight was a personal favourite moment of 2016) MO have cranked out a 4% Summer Saison for your drinking pleasure. French in essence but with the addition of black pepper, coriander and some rye and spelt it is probably a good stab at what the farmer might have brewed in the back shed. Motueka, Simcoe and Wakatu hops suggest it might be a little more hoppy than Pierre would expect.
Saisons were traditionally brewed in the cooler months and then stored until summer. Can’t think of a better way to celebrate the dedication of brewers past than to crack a few of these at the festive dinner table.
Of course, this is not the ‘Year of the Summer Ale’ or anything so you might want to stock the other half of the fridge with these tried-and-tested favourites.
Mountain Goat Summer Ale – the first Australian canned summer ale and still as good as ever.
Stone & Wood Pacific Ale – summer standard. But don’t forget the slightly underrated Green Coast Lager for true-to-style lager enjoyment.
Red Hill Golden Ale – a Kolsch by any other name would taste as sweet.
Mildura Brewery Stefano’s Pilsner – for those wanting the softer charms of the European pilsner, this is well worth a second look.
Hawker’s Pilsner – if it’s a more bitter, floral, lederhosen-ed spanker of a pilsner. Stop looking. I’ve found it.
Yenda Hell Lager – plenty will pass this one by but those after a good, honest and well made summer lager will appreciate the place this one holds in the Australian beer scene.