Summer brings more than warmer weather, the end of the school year and baseball games. More important than all of them is the arrival of summer beers. Like the return of seasonal birds that flew south for the winter, this diverse and delicious gaggle of bottled bubbles brings smiles to brew lovers every time.
Porters and stouts might own the dark days of winter with their hops and barley boldness, but the light, crispy and often fruity tastes of ales and ciders rule the day during the summer. Beers this time of year can taste like you just dined upon a tropical fruit platter as brewers mix and match flavors that shout summer fun. The beers range from passion fruit to bitingly bitter India Pale Ales.
“I can’t make enough of Broken Window IPA – which is a great summer beer with its moderate alcohol level and low bitterness,” said Tacoma Brewing’s Morgan Alexander as he settled into his new location on Court E in downtown. “Later this summer though, we will be starting up production of our Dr. Alexander’s Hard Ginger Ale, which has been out of production since last fall.”
Another of Tacoma Brewing’s beers to try is the Mo Oatmeal Pale Ale, a mosaic-hopped pale that is made with oats that add a rich mouth feel that is smooth with a little bit of a bitter finish.
For a more tropical bent, Wingman Brewers has a few brews to try. The Razma Attack is a blend of the brewery’s barrel-aged Sour Blonde Beer and its Raspberry Wheat Ale to create a pink brew with a refreshing bite.
“Cuke is our cucumber saison,” said the brewery’s main brain Ken Thoburn. “It’s brewed with a rustic saison yeast and finished with brettanomyces for a touch of funkiness. After the beer is finished fermenting, we add a healthy dose of fresh cucumber, which makes this one of the most refreshing beers you could drink.”
While cucumber and raspberry beers might be refreshing on a hot day, they don’t flesh out the whole Jimmy Buffet vibe for summers in the Pacific Northwest. To fill that slot, Wingman took its flagship P-51 to create a Coconut Porter, which won a gold medal as the best porter in the Pacific Northwest last year.
“Brewed with copious amounts of coconut and chocolate, it’s like carbonated liquid candy,” Thoburn said.
Odd Otter Brewing has its own spin on coconut beer with Odditea Brown Ale, a brew that floods its signature brown ale with coconut chai tea for an unusually delightful beer that is perfect for a warm day by the pool or sailing on the sound.
For something even more tropical, Tacoma Boys’ beer guru Donna Herren said Avery Brewing’s tropical fruity Liliko’I Kepelo is solid bet. Imagine a good hefeweizen with a heavy dose of passion fruit for a fruity finish. Another option is Boulevard Brewing’s Ginger Lemon Radler as a go-to backup for a refreshing lemonade-style beer.
“Fruity Gose (sour beers) will be another trend this summer,” she said. “I like gose; it’s tart with a little bit of saltiness. I’m not a radler or shandy fan myself, but every year when it gets warm out, they fly out of here.”
For a brew that punches back, Dunagan Brewing has its Hobie Summer session IPA, an unfiltered beer made from Simcoe hops that ends each sip with notes of white grapefruit.
Summer beers are great starter beers but they often get sold out well before the boys of summer take to the fields for their final pitches of the season, so it’s best to buy now and buy often. Winter is coming, after all.