With just days to go until fall beers are officially free to drink (and have we told you about Fall Beer Freedom Day lately?) we thought we’d take a quick look at some of the beers we’ve been enjoying but haven’t quite gotten around to writing about very much.
What have we been drinking this summer? Here you go. A quick look at the beers that have filled our coolers, fridges, trunks and folding-chair-cupholders for the last few months, in rapid-fire format.
5 Rabbit’s 5 Lizard: I declared this to be the beer of the summer back in late May, and I don’t see a need to back away from that claim three months later. Just light enough to be seriously drinkable but not so light that it’s watery; tart, sweet, sour, bitter, bright, energetic — part of me wants it always to be summer so I’ll always have a reason to drink this beer. (Not that I need a reason.)
Oh, and did I mention that it’s great with a little splash of gin in it? I did? Let me do it again. TRY THIS BEER WITH A SPLASH OF GIN IN IT. Just one ounce. That’s all it needs. Just do it. See if I’m wrong.
Founder’s Mango Magnifico: Admittedly, I only had this once, but once was all I needed. A good special-occasion summer beer if you need one that isn’t New Glarus’ Serendipity; the mango isn’t beat-you-over-the-head strong but it’s there, and the Habanero aspect is Goldilocks-perfect. Juuuuuuuuuust a little tickle at the back of the throat and a hint of heat. (Honestly, I’m personally getting burnt out on chile beers. Sorry, everyone.)
All-Day IPA: If and when Founders becomes a nationally distributed brand, this beer will no doubt be their flagship (certainly their can sales would agree with me). Yes, the marketing screams “SESSIONABLE!” in bright neon, but that is no code-word for “boring” and this beer is just as hoppy as you could ask for in something you’re supposed to drink a dozen of starting at noon.
Goose Island Green Line: Not necessarily a summer-specific beer, but just one that I can go to without expending much thought about. Sometimes I don’t want to agonize over a beer purchase; sometimes I just want to buy a pint or pitcher of something and turn my stupid brain off and watch something on the TV at the bar. If one of those handles says Green Line when I’m in that mindset, my decision is made and there’s no buyer’s remorse.
Half Acre’s Akari Shogun: I don’t really have a whole lot to write about this one. I attribute that partially to the fact that I assume it’s been such an ever-present part of all our drinking landscapes, between draft and kickass-looking can, that it doesn’t need a ton of discussion. So I’ll sum it up simply by deferring to the professionals I watched praise this beer as one of the best pale ales in the city for Chicago Magazine — they were right.
Bell’s Oarsman: A couple of years ago I had one of these at the end of a long stretch of warm weather and it was just perfect — tart, breezy, wet, easily drinkable. Between then and about March of this year I kept chasing that original beer, but none of the batches I had ever lived up. That changed somewhere along the way, to the point where this beer could be called consistent, but to be honest, I’m only drinking this nowadays when I can’t immediately find or need a momentary break from 5 Lizard.
Solemn Oath’s Snaggletooth Bandanna: Another no-brainer beer, this time from everyone’s favorite Napervillians. Even when I can identify things on the draft list that I want to try first, for some reason a Snaggletooth always ends up in my hands. Maybe it’s the citrus, maybe it’s the spot-on balance, maybe it’s the — maybe I don’t need to figure this one out down to the molecule. Maybe I just like it and that should be enough, dammit.
NOTABLY ABSENT: I think I’ve only had a handful of Leinie’s Summer Shandy this season, after quite enjoying them in the past. I don’t know whether or not that’s because of the recent influx of other shandys to try (though that seemed to be a 2012 kind of thing) or if it’s the cider boom or what – but nary a shandy gave me a cold-induced headache this summer, so far as I can tell. It certainly doesn’t mean that Summer Shandy was bad this year; just that my palate didn’t scream for them the way they did a couple of years back.
If it was in a can, I drank it.
That included the photographed Founders All Day IPA. I also managed to corral Schlafly’s IPA and Brown Ale, part of their Can Session Series. The IPA lacked the same zip found in the All Day, but had a refreshing lemon-y-ness to it. The brown was crisp and malty and paired well with that stretch in August before it got miserably hot.
Much like Karl I also enjoyed my fair share of Half Acre’s Akari Shogun and Daisy Cutter and C-Change and Cuda and — well — just about every beer they released over the summer, including the sour collab with New Belgium, 2023M2. C-Change, a Kölsch, was a highlight: summery, session-y and refreshing.
Ballast Point’s Sculpin snuck its way into my fridge, because it was in a can and it’s Sculpin. It’s not quite a session beer, clocking in at 7.1% ABV, but it’s still a world-class IPA which is all that matters in my book.
I even bit on the Stiegl Radler craze and I feel like I’m a better man because of it.
I couldn’t get enough of 4 Paws Fawn, a subtly sweet blonde ale that I could occasionally find on tap and made it a point to keep Metropolitan’s Krankshaft Kölsch, Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold and Lagunitas’ Pilsner at the ready.