Ever want the perfect pour for a summer Sunday evening on the porch? That’s what I was looking for the other day, when in need of some distinctive beers to enhance the post-season discussion among youth league lacrosse coaches. So I visited my favorite beer vendor, The Wine Source, and the experts suggested several quaffs to quench our thirst yet allow us to keep our wits intact.
First was “Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary Ale” from Western New York-based Southern Tier Brewing. The key to this American pale ale’s drinkability is dry-hopping, which involves adding extra hops to the still-brewing beer after the mix has cooled. This process provides a nice dose of floral flavor and aroma — in this case, a citrus-fruity sweetness — without adding bitterness, like you might find in an IPA. It also has a lower alcohol level than an IPA, which makes it an ideal (though borderline) session beer, too.
Equally drinkable was “Karma Ale” from Avery Brewing in Colorado. Inspired by the idea of a Belgian golden pale ale, this beer proved well-suited for the occasion, with its intricate honey-fruitiness and low alcohol content, and went down all too well.
The third choice (there were three coaches, after all) was the classic English pale ale, Fuller’s London Pride. This simple, solid amber-brown beer, and one that I’ve had on numerous occasions, usually involving a slice of roast beef, was a surprise hit for a solo summer beer. The mild, bready quality of this “British bitter” was mellow and refreshing on a warmish evening, and the lack of carbonation was a welcome alternative to the extra-bubbly (and too-filling) lagers that are often served this time of year.
Although the lacrosse season ended on a sour note, with the boys battling well but outmanned in a mismatched tournament, the evening’s discussions were anything but bitter and overpowering, and were certainly refreshingly satisfying.