Summer Beers You’ll Want to Try
Maine BrewGuide reviews 5 summer beers from local breweries
Oxbow Brewing Company ~ Grizzaca
Kissing cousin to a Saison, Grizacca is Oxbow Brewing Company’s interpretation of the Belgian style beer called grisette. There is an infinite amount of lore surrounding this style, but it doesn’t have to get complicated: while saisons were made for farmworkers, grisettes were brewed for coal miners. Simple, until you find references to “grisettes,” young working women dressed in gray, “gris” in French. Let’s stick to the beer. Sipping Grizacca with Anne Marisic, Oxbow’s Director of Retail Sales, at noon on a gray, er, gris Saturday, was a perfect example of why we go to tasting rooms. Once inside, the world becomes smaller, the outside no longer bothers our consciousness. We are talking beer and drinking it. Grizacca is bright, crisp, with notes of pineapple and hints of the promise of spring. Ahhh. A must-sip beer for the spring and summer season. Watch for Rivulet in Summer, 2017, their newest grissette.
Threshers Brewing Co. ~ Nor’easter
In the springtime, on a day that just breaks 50 degrees, if you happen to be sitting outside on the patio at Threshers Brewing Co. in the deep woods of Searsmont, just kick back, prop up your Muck Boots and gaze at the bare trees and muddy parking lot. Then take one sip of their Nor’easter and close your eyes. You’re on the beach, baby, and it’s fast forward to summertime. This Northeast style IPA is made with a Vermont-style ale yeast, which lends some cloudiness to the honey color and the Australian El Dorado hops smooth it out without any trace of bitterness. It starts with citrusy, almost naval orange flavor, which gives way to a juicy, clean finish—sort of like a breath of clear, cool air on a hazy, summer day.
Shipyard Brewing Co. ~ Fire Berry & Maui Mango Blend
Tea beers are currently trending in Europe, with Germany being the epicenter for tea blending these days. Fortunately you don’t have travel far to experience Shipyard’s two options, Fire Berry and Maui Mango Blend. Both of these tea beers are wheat based and low in alcohol to allow a neutral canvas so when the teas are blended it allows the elements of the natural tea ingredients to come through. Oh, and caffeine-free!
The tea used is from Tiesta Tea, who has highly researched and selectively sourced teas from around the world for the best characteristics and flavor. The Maui Mango Blend: Has an aromatic nose that presents with notes of pineapple, orange slices and strawberries. The flavor has a pleasant juiciness and is not overpowering, it leaves you with a clean, crisp finish. Fireberry: A more tea forward beer, is made with blackberries, elderberries, currants and hibiscus and has a clean slightly bitter finish which I enjoyed.
In lieu of hops: Tea beers have achieved what is being done with hops these days. Today’s brewers are finding new ways to exploit the bountiful flavors from natural fruit and varying tea blends that allow full, complex flavors in sessionable beers.
Oxbow Brewing Co. ~ Loretta
The brainchild of Oxbow head brewer Mike Fava, Loretta resurrects the once-forgotten style of grisette. Originally brewed as a libation for French coal and stone miners centuries ago, the style is a close cousin to saison, similarly low in alcohol and refreshing. Loretta is one of three grisettes the farmhouse brewery produces – along with the La Griseta and Grizzaca – and the most traditional example of the style. Brewed with European hops and locally-harvested spelt grain, the light-bodied beer clocks in at an easy-drinking 4% ABV. Loretta pours a pale yellow with a big, estery nose, and is a crisp, refreshing mix of lemon, wheat and grainy sweetness with a slightly citric bite.
Fore River Brewing Company ~ Lygonia IPA
Lygonia’s golden hue glows like a July sunrise over Casco Bay. Its nose emanates a summer-rich aroma of peaches, grapefruits, and pineapple from the Ella and Topaz hops. As you sip Lygonia, (Fore River Brewing Company) tropical fruit flavors give way to refreshing pine notes until finally easing back to a mango hop finish. It has just the right sweet malt body to balance out the generous addition of hops, while the dry finish leaves little residual sugars to get in the way of its refreshing hop voyage. Lygonia is the perfect companion to backyard cornhole with friends while Tom Petty croons on the radio.
— Text & Photos: Grizacca – Kate Cone; Nor’Easter – Kay Stephens; Fire Berry & Maui Mango Blend – Stan Rintz; Loretta – Josh Christie; Lygonia IPA – Dave Patterson