Beers With Friends: Summer Seasonals

We took this photo at our office. All photos by Carol Shih.

We’re back. It’s hot as blazes out there. Brad, Kelleen, Michael, special out-of-town guest Eric, and I drank a bunch of summer beers to help you class up your next pool party, because we all know what Negra Modelo tastes like.

What we did: I asked Michael repeatedly which beers I should buy. His response was the equivalent of an internet shrug. So I walked into Las Colinas Beverages and Whole Foods and walked out with a random selection of beers that had the word “summer” on the label. That was seriously the only requirement. Also, I didn’t bring gummi bears, and Michael baked a blueberry-bourbon galette and brought two whole chickens from Pollo Regio. I’ve never seen Brad so focused on anything, ever.

Alaskan Summer ($1.99 / beer at Whole Foods, 5.3% ABV)

Initial thoughts: The label says it’s a “Kolsch style” ale, and it pours nice and golden.

About the brew:

Michael: It’s malty and sweet.
Liz: Would we take this to the pool?
Michael: Yeah, it’s a pool beer.
Kelleen: And, if you’re having people over, this is agreeable. It’s something you could buy if you’re having a lot of people over, and everyone would drink it.
Michael: It’s a little sweet to drink a six pack of, I would think.
Eric: Seems pricey if it’s flown in from Alaska.
Liz: ….like a six pack, by yourself?
Michael: Well, yeah.
Brad: Not if it’s dragged in by those killer whales.
Michael: That’s my issue with this beer. The sweetness in this reminds me of the sweetness in Coors and Bud Light. Not that this beer is on that level.

Semi-related tangent:

Michael: Ska, which is this brewery from Colorado that makes some beers I really like…
Brad: Ska, like s-k-a, like, <trumpet noises>?
Michael: Yep. They make a Mexican lager now,  which I would like to try…
Liz: Where can we find that?
Michael: Central Market. It’s called Mexican Logger, spelled “L o g g e r.” They make a beer called “Modus Hoperandi” that I really like.

Field notes: We actually drank almost all of this before we even thought to talk about what it tasted like. Good sign, as far as unassuming drinkability goes. Refreshing. The only quibble came from Michael, who found it a little sweet for his liking.

Pool worthy? Yep. It’s also a perfect backyard beer.


Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale ($8.99 / six pack at Las Colinas Beverages, 5% ABV).

Initial thoughts: Pours a coppery amber color, light, with a small head. Smells hoppy, almost like an IPA.

About the brew:

Michael: I could drink a lot of that.
Kelleen: Deschutes is a good brewery, right?
Michael: They make a stout that people like a lot called the Abyss.
Brad: Hey, everybody. Cheers!
Michael: Little more hop character.
Brad: Yeah, it has more hoppy…scent than taste.
Michael: The hops are there, though, in the taste. It’s just nice and balanced.
Eric: It does have a strong citrus aftertaste.
Brad: …he’s just gettin’ in the flow.
Eric: I would not buy this. It sticks in the top of my esophagus.
Brad: Your esophagus? What’s it doing in your esophagus?

The semi-related tangent:

Kelleen: Can you imagine being an alcoholic on white Russians?
Michael: Yeah, they made a movie about it.
Kelleen: Did they really?
Liz: Uh.
Michael and Liz: The Big Lebowski.

Field notes: After it warmed, we got more of the orangey flavor that Eric picked up on immediately. Michael guessed the hop character (“Amarillo hops”) without looking at the label. We liked that it was IPA-ish, but not as strong, but agreed that it’s more of an indoor beer.

Pool worthy? Eric’s esophagus says no.


Rahr & Sons Summertime Wheat ($9.99 / six pack at Las Colinas Beverages, 5.2% ABV)

Initial thoughts: “The nose of that makes me really not want to drink it,” says Michael. Golden-color pour.

About the brew:

Liz: “A lightly hopped ale…with unique…banana?”
Michael: Yeah, a lot of that.
Liz: Why banana?
Michael: There’s banana in every wheat beer you ever drink, like that flavor. I don’t want to drink one more sip of this. I’m going to, but…real clove heavy. Real banana heavy. And just…yeasty.
Brad: It mines your mouth. It’s supposed to be a refreshing beer. It is not a refreshing beer.
Michael: It coats the back of your throat….so that banana and clove taste is pretty common. It’s actually not unique at all.

The semi-related tangent:

Brad: You don’t like wheat beers.
Michael: I like a few. For a little while. Live Oak [in Austin] makes the best one I’ve ever had.
Brad: The Live Oak Hefeweizen? Yeah, that’s really good. It’s light. It’s not as…
Michael: It’s good, nice and balanced…I don’t want to drink anymore of that.
Eric: It tastes like Necco candies.
Brad: …andddd Kelleen’s like, “Bottoms up, bottoms up!”
Kelleen:  I really like summer ales. I’m probably going to like all of these.
Michael: That doesn’t really mean anything, though.

Field notes: I drank only a very small amount of this, because it did not taste good. The fifth time Eric made the Necco candy joke, it landed.

Pool worthy? If your name is Creature and your pool is the Black Lagoon. (Sorry, Kelleen.)


Dogfish Head Festina Pêche ($11.90 / four pack at Las Colinas Beverages, 4.50% ABV)

Initial thoughts: Michael doesn’t care much for the Dogfish Head beers he’s had, but heard good things about this one. Personally, I thought this was the prettiest bottle, though the boys preferred the killer whale on the Alaskan beer. I’m not a fan of fruit beers, but I bought this one because the helpful people at Las Colinas Beverages told me they only had one case left and that they weren’t even putting it out because people were coming in to ask for it. This is obviously the easiest way to get me to buy something: tell me it’s rare.

About the brew:

Liz: This is so…light. And foamy.
Michael: A “neo-berliner weisse.”
Eric: Wow, that smells like a malt beverage.
Michael: It’s got that farmy action going on. It’s flat.
Eric: It doesn’t look very flat.
Michael: No, it doesn’t. But there’s no much carb.
Brad: This tastes like somebody took a regular beer and put a little bit of Arbor Mist in it.
Michael: It’s actually fermented in the peach juice, though, I think. I don’t hate it.
Eric: This tastes like Miller High Life wishes it tastes like.
Brad, to Eric: You don’t know s***!
Michael: I’d drink this at the pool. I don’t know if I’d BUY it for the pool. …if it were this or Tecate, I’d take the Tecate.

The semi-related tangent:

Eric: I’m definitely more excited about the Dogfish Head than I am about the malt liquor.
Michael: Malt beverage.
[Minutes later]
Kelleen: I’m ready for that malt liquor.
Brad: Oh! This is a malt beverage, too!
Liz: Guys, that’s not what that means…
Michael: Many beers are.
Eric: Colt 45.
Brad: I’ve got some Steel Reserve in the fridge, too.
Michael: Do you really?
Brad: Old Steel Reserve.

Field notes: Not enough carbonation, dry, a little tart. Definite hangover potential. Kelleen and I both thought it tasted like peach cider. [Michael: “I just remember everyone being like “IT’S LIKE A CIDER.” No, it’s a beer brewed with juice, not brewed juice.”] A Berliner Weisse, of course, is a fruit beer.

Pool worthy? Maybe if you prefer Champagne flutes to awesome Fort Worth Stockyard koozies.


Breckenridge Bright Summer Ale ($9.49 / six cans at Whole Foods, 4.50% ABV)

Initial Thoughts: I got a lot of crap for this one because the can said “malt beverage.” In my defense, it also said “summer” and the can was cool.

About the brew:

Michael: Oh, this doesn’t smell very good.
Brad: I like this one more than the other one.
Michael: Nah, I’ll take the Dogfish Head. It tastes…less.
Brad: That’s all I’m asking for.
Michael: That’s a fair request.
Kelleen: I think this would be really good for the pool.
Brad: I still don’t know how many of these I could drink.
Michael: It would quench your thirst. My thing is, I’d take a Miller Light equally with this.

The semi-related tangent:

[Watching a commercial for ABC’s Wipe Out season premiere]

Liz: So stupid.
Brad: I wouldn’t use any of those words to describe Wipe Out, because it’s incredible. I don’t know if you just watched that commercial.
Liz: Last time, it was just fat people bouncing off those balls.
Brad: Again, I’m not sure when you’re going to start saying bad things about this…
Kelleen: No, it’s depressing all around, because I feel like every time I watch it, you have these people who have given up…
Brad: Given up what?
Kelleen: Every time I watch this, they’ll introduce someone that’ll be like, “Blah blah blah had a blossoming career but decided to quit his job and devote 24 hours to training…”
Brad: That’s Ninja Warrior.
Michael: The Japanese are very dedicated.
Kelleen: Anybody want a banana beer?

Field notes: Brad liked how much this beer tasted like nothing.

Pool worthy? Total disappointment. Get a case of Tecate for the same price, basically.


Final word: Out of these five, we split down the middle on an overall favorite. Kelleen and I preferred the Alaskan Summer—it’d do for the pool, but I’d serve it at a classy backyard barbecue—but Brad and Michael liked the Deschutes  Twilight for regular sipping. And if you magically catch me out at a pool this summer, a sighting akin to the Yeti, I’ll probably still have a Negra Modelo in hand.