Summer is a time of harvest and with warmer temperatures, beers that are easy drinking and refreshing. Fruit beers come to the forefront, but I want to dispel the misconception that all fruit beers are syrupy sweet; the four examples described here should help to do just that.
Unibroue Éphémère Sureau (Elderberry)
Unibroue has long brewed a line of fruit beers titled Éphémère, with variants of apple, pear, cherry, blueberry and black currant. The Canadian Belgian-style brewery’s latest creation adds an elderberry-flavored ale to its Éphémère family brewed using a balanced blend of elderberry fruit and flowers. “This is the first time we’re using both the fruit and flower in making an Éphémère beer,” explains Jerry Vietz, Unibroue’s Master Brewer. “The elderberry flower’s aroma is a perfect complement to the fruit’s rich, delicious flavor.” Elderberry and its aromatic flower have been used in countless recipes, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it used in a beer and I found it to be a delightful blend. It brings a slight tartness, which alludes to its name (“sureau” is French for sour) and its deep purplish-blue hue and creamy pink head makes it easy on the eyes. Released May 1 in 12 oz. six packs and variety packs, unfortunately it’s only available for a limited time, so the time to seek it out is now.
Coney Island Watermelon Wheat
Nothing shouts summer like a slice of watermelon. You would likely imagine a watermelon beer, like its namesake fruit, would be quite sweet, but such is not the case of this Coney Island Brewing’s newly released version brewed with watermelon juice. That’s likely because of the brewer’s use of Cascade and Citra hops to balance it out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a bit sweet, but not to the point of being syrupy. “New Yorkers, as well as transplants like myself, long for sunny summer days after a blistering winter,” said Eric Hernandez, head brewer at Coney Island Brewery. “Capturing what summer is about in Coney Island is exactly what we did with Watermelon Wheat. Watermelon is a summer staple and its flavors complement the wheat, caramel malts and citrusy hops, making for a fun, refreshing, thirst-quenching beer.” This brew is being offered throughout the warmer months.
Stiegl “Zitrone” Lemon Radler
The Austrian Brewery Stiegl is widely recognized for producing a low ABV easy-drinking beer made with grapefruit juice. Now its Lemon Radler has been released in the US, made with a citrus fruit also known for being tart. To create it, the brewery blends 60% of its signature Goldbrau lager with 40% natural lemon juice to give it a distinct tart flavor and citrusy aroma. And, at only 175 calories per 16 oz. can and 2% ABV, it will help you watch your waistline and its extremely low alcohol content makes it a perfect summer refresher that is geared toward individuals with health-conscious, active lifestyles. In case you were wondering, in German “radler” means “cyclist” and this beer style is often referred to as a “bicycle beer” because of athletes who prefer to indulge in this type of brew as they bike through the Alps. The Stiegl Lemon Radler is available on draft and in four-packs of 16-fluid-ounce cans.
Garage Brewing Mango Wheat
The Temecula-based Garage Brewing Company brews several beers with unorthodox beer ingredients, such as its D’Unkle Peanut Dunkleweizen and Cold Brew Coffee Milk Stout. Now we put the spotlight on its Mango Hefeweizen, which won a gold medal at the L.A. International Beer Competition in 2014. Although it’s available year round, this beer is well suited for summer, as it is only 5.5% ABV, lightly hopped at 12 IBUs and not heavy in malt, allowing the tropical fruit flavor to shine, but not overpower. It’s not overly sweet, and as it’s brewed with a German hefe yeast, you’ll also encounter a subtle banana aroma. It’s available on draft and in 12 oz. six packs and 22 oz. bombers.