What do you think of when you hear the words “summer” and “beer”? We think of barbeques, socialising, holiday travel, and relaxing after an active day in the sun. As the weather fines up we get more active and tend to look towards lighter styles that don’t slow us down.
One friend immediately thought of the summer seasonals, like Montieth’s Summer Ale and Mac’s Sundance. Both of these beers have added ingredients (honey and lemongrass respectively) to create an enticing “festive” vibe, that he suggested might be a bit “feminine” but were good on a Saturday afternoon after a hard Friday night.
Of course the more traditional flavors of lager beer are synonymous with summertime. (Have you ever seen an advertisement with people huddled around a fire drinking lager?) Lagers are a refreshing drink in warm weather, designed to be served colder, and typically lighter in colour, body and flavour. When it comes to lagers, we prefer the hoppier pilsner style.
One of our favourite beer memories came from a holiday in Canada. We were sitting on the patio of the Granville Island Hotel on a warm afternoon, looking across the water at the Vancouver CBD savouring a locally brewed pilsner that matched the fantastic view. For a Nelson summer equivalent, we would have a bottle of Tuatara Pilsner and a picnic at any of a number of scenic locations.
Of course there is no reason you have to have a lager. Wheat beers are lager-like ales with a refreshing spicyness that make them a popular choice in Germany and America. Mac’s Great White is a readily available example. Locally, the American Wheat continues to be a best seller at Golden Bear Brewing in Mapua.
When we asked Kieron Lattimer of the Moutere Inn about his summer beer memories, he recalled “sitting in a beer garden of a pub in York (where I lived as a young man for 6 years) alongside the River Ouse at the height of summertime. Drinking one of the many, many fantastic beers that were available to me.” Those beers would most likely have been ales and indeed another light, yet full flavoured option would be a lower alcohol ale such as Emmerson’s Bookbinder or Townshend Breweries Cathcart NTA. Both are around 4% abv English style ales, with Bookbinder providing a classic sweeter malty profile, and Cathcart NTA giving a little more bitter, hoppy bite.
With the summer holidays approaching, it’s the perfect time to fill a rigger with any of these styles and get out and enjoy the season and the beer.
Originally published in the Nelson Mail.