Brooklyn Summer Ale
Every coin has two sides and many swords are double edged. I’m a big fan of the Cambrian explosion in beer varieties, because I think beer, like tea and coffee–other brewed beverages, has a strong flavor that can play well with various herbs, spices, and fruits. But the dark side to this is prevalent during the summer when hosts of breweries introduce their summer ales, with lemon and orange zests making -ades out of lagers.
I can take one or two of these a season, but eventually it becomes obvious that light lagers with lemon zest tend to taste like every light lager with lemon zest. The citrus overwhelms any underlying uniqueness of the beer beneath. Summer, to me, is a perfect time for a hefeweizen, but these can difficult to find in the average supermarket beer display. Even when the supermarkets offer different varieties, they sell seasonals by what sells, and what sells now are the citrus summer ales.So when I had to pick up a six pack at a supermarket for a same-day barbecue, and really, really, wanted a hefeweizen, I knew I’d be skunked. Instead, I decided to go a different route and purchase a summer ale that specifically didn’t say anything about citrus. To that end, I picked up some Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Summer Ale. Promising nothing more than golden ale with a bready flavor and crisp finish, this, I hoped, would make a decent selection.
It’s not bad, but it reminds me a lot of Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat and Magic Hat Circus Boy. (That I don’t like Circus Boy is doubly upsetting, because it’s Magic Hat‘s version of a hefeweizen. It doesn’t taste like a sweet, crisp wheat beer to me.) Both of those beers taste soapy to me. In fact, the Coastal Wheat is the only Sam Adams I’ve ever actively disliked. A few folks I know actually enjoy Coastal Wheat and Circus Boy more than any other beer, so I am not dismissing these beers out of hand. Whatever hops they are made with appeal to many people, but my taste buds don’t find them pleasing. (Addendum: Actually, it’s the yeast that makes these hefeweizens taste like they do. I’m going to refer to these types of beer as seifeweizens.)
That said, the Brooklyn Summer Ale is far more palatable to me than those other two. I’m certainly going to drink more than one of these in the six pack, and I’d drink one or two again if I found it in a cooler at a party, but the English-style ale won’t be a regular substitute for when I can’t find a decent summer wheat beer. And, if I want it, I’ll add the lemon myself, thanks.