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Refreshing Summer Brews

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By Joe Carrel and Jordyn Celaya, Buffalo Exchange HQ (with photos by Dane Velazquez)

Everyone likes to get an early jump on summer, and breweries are no different. Since most of the summer beers are now available, I thought it’d be fun to create a twelve-pack of seasonally appropriate brews and conduct a little taste test. So I recruited resident beer connoisseur (and Buffalo Accounting Clerk) Jordyn Celeya and we gave it a go. Read on for our reviews and award winners in this tasty challenge!

BRONZE MEDALS:

Phoenix Ale Brewery – Watermelon Ale, 4.8% ABV
Marketed on the can as a “beer meant for a hot climate,” this was indeed very light and refreshing. While a bit tart, the watermelon flavor did not come through as much as I would’ve liked, making it taste similar to a light lager, but with a slightly fruity flavor. (Jordyn)

Ninkasi Brewing – Spring Reign, 6.0% ABV 
There aren’t many specifically “spring” beers to be found, so I invited this one to the summer party. This American pale has a pleasing level of bitterness, but its strong floral taste and hoppy finish can be a bit much. (Joe)

Ballast Point – Pineapple Sculpin, 7.0% ABV   
The good folks at Ballast Point were wise to pair various fruits with their beloved Sculpin IPA. Here though, the pineapple, while very present in the smell, almost gets lost in the taste. (Joe)

Founders Brewing – Rubaeus Pure Raspberry Ale, 5.7 ABV                                                                   
Another extremely light beer that’s good for the hot summer weather. This one tasted almost like a cider, with a slight hint of raspberry. (Jordyn)

 

SILVER MEDALS:

Avery Brewing – White Rascal, 5.6% ABV
A Belgian-style white with a nice hint of coriander. The flavor doesn’t draw attention, but it’s crisp and refreshing. (Joe)

Destihl – Wild Sour Series: Flanders Red, 6.1% ABV
Doesn’t disappoint on the sourness. The first sip is a little harsh, but each consecutive drink does get easier. Tastes like a mix of cherries and Warheads candy. Personally, I find sours to be surprisingly refreshing and would totally pick this beer to drink on a summer’s day… especially since it really packs a punch and breaks the monotony of your usual beer flavor. (Jordyn)

Anderson Valley Brewing – Summer Solstice, 5.0% ABV   
An alternative to the summer pales, this full-bodied beer boasts a malty, spiced caramel flavor reminiscent of cream soda. (Joe)

Sierra Nevada – Tropical IPA, 6.7% ABV
A great spring/summer IPA! Despite the high ABV and overall hoppy-ness it was very drinkable and light for an IPA.  It was described as having mango, papaya and orange flavors, but none came through especially strong. Poured, it has a beautiful color and a nice piney smell, which suits it perfectly as it is part of the Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp series. (Jordyn)

 

GOLD MEDALS:

Four Peaks – Peach Ale, 4.5% ABV
Peach seems to be one of those flavors that can easily go wrong. Fortunately, the brewers at Four Peaks have landed upon a clean peach taste that neither disappears nor overwhelms. (Joe)

Papago – Orange Blossom, 5.0% ABV     
A brother in spirit to the Blood Orange Amber, here the vanilla takes the lead role while the mandarin orange provides a solid supporting performance. A specific taste that’s not for all, but I, for one, will be stocking up. (Joe)

Ballast Point – Grapefruit Sculpin, 7.0% ABV                                                                                                        
This beer is another great, refreshing take on the classic Ballast Point Sculpin. It’s a little more bitter than the Tropical IPA, but still easy to drink for the non-IPA lover. Ballast Point’s website says it had summer in mind even though grapefruit is a winter fruit, and they really succeeded in making a great, balanced beer. (Jordyn)

 

BEST OF SHOW:

The Dudes’ Brewing – Blood Orange Amber, 6.5% ABV                                                                                  
The orange flavor is clean and clear when you first drink, followed by vanilla and chocolate (which was a nice surprise) to round it out. I could even see this Creamsicle-tasting brew becoming a favorite of those who don’t normally drink beer. (Jordyn)

Here’s to warm weather and cold refreshment!

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