How 'bout that 2010 summer selection?

When the thermometer starts flirting with 100 degrees this early in the season, it’s time to load the beer fridge with plenty of refreshing, crisp brews to help ease our sticky journey through summer.

Magic Hat Brewing Co. rides into town on a white horse with a new seasonal 12–pack aptly dubbed Summer Scene.
Fans will find favorites like the apricot–laced #9 – an innocuous but refreshing fruit beer – and last summer’s hit beer, Wacko.

A beer made with beet juice a hit? Apparently it’s not just Vermonters who found Wacko to their taste. It pours with the expected deep burgundy color and then powers its way into your taste buds with a substantial malt backbone and plenty of tartness. Refreshing – and not the least bit beet–like.

New members of this season’s half–case seem like the timid twins of the previous two brews.

Odd Notion this summer is a slightly spicy wild ginger ale, boasting a Belgian yeast backing. I was impressed by this brew – and stunned that it’s Belgian roots still shone through a ginger–based foundation. The ginger comes on string at first but yields to yeastiness I associate with Belgians. It lingers on the finish, which made ti perfect with my juicy, grilled burgers.

IPA on Tour reaches back into Magic Hat’s brewer’s archives to bring back Blind Faith, an English styled IPA that may just help convert your friends who drink yellow, fizzy beers into craft beer zealots.

As a self–defined hop head, I found the hoppy bitterness to be very mild – another reason your low–down, bad–taste friends may ditch their screw caps brews for something with character. It’s crisp, bright and refreshing – with a highly manageable 5.6 percent ABV.

The 12–pack holds a trio of each variety and should be around until early fall. It’s a fun collection of beers to carry along to a party – or enjoy sampling by the pool.

Boom Shakalager

Terrapin Beer Co. brewmaster Spike has lets lose his 11th side project, a 22 oz. Imperial Lager that has one foot in the old country and another firmly rooted in new American craft beer tradition.

Boasting four hops varieties and a quartet of classic malts – all from Germany – Boom Shakalager defies a fixed label. Instead, it stands on boldness, a brain smooshing 9 percent ABV and enough flavor for six beers.

Spike trikes beautiful balance – Boom Shakalager is at once sweet, yet bitter, rich but refreshing. By his own definition, the brewer sought to craft a beer that didn’t fit into a category, but challenged, then won, the beer drinker’s heart.

Brand Watch

Watch for new beers in the coming weeks from brewers like 21st Amendment, Tupper’s and Mad River Brewing Co.
Among seasonal or special project labels just landing on shelves: Dogfish Head Sah’tea, Weyerbacher 15th Anniversary and Verboten and Heavy Seas Smoke on the Water, a complex porter with a subtle smoky flavor that comes from smoked malt.

Let’s hope it’s as memorable as Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar riff from Deep Purple’s 1972 hit of the same name.


Tim Rutherford

Tim Rutherford grew up in rural Kentucky – then left home to pursue more than three decades as a photojournalist and newsman. A ground-breaking meal in New Orleans in 1979 set him on a path exploring food and wine. Six years ago he changed career paths – now spending his time writing about the people and places...
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