Although City Weekly's annual Utah Beer Festival isn't until Aug. 15 at Library Square, I suspect many of us will be sipping summer suds long before that. (Tickets for the Beer Festival went on sale last week, by the way, so be sure to snap yours up before they're all gone!)
Local brewers offer a wide range of beers perfect for summer imbibing—far too many to list here—but these are a few of my favorites: Uinta Brewing Co. makes it easy with its summer "Duo" sampler, available at grocery stores: It's a 12-pack, six cans each of Sum'r Ale and Wyld Extra Pale Ale, available May through August from the brewery's Organic Line of beers. Sum'r is an easy-drinking golden ale that's clean-tasting, refreshing, and citrusy with lemon hints and honeyed sweetness. It's the type of beer you'd want to drink on a boat. Wine drinkers who love Sauvignon Blanc would probably dig Wyld, with its floral aromas, grapefruit and herb flavors, and crisp, dry finish from aggressive dry-hopping.
It would be a full-time job, and then some, to keep up with Epic Brewing Company's ever-growing collection of brews. However, a slam-dunk summer beer from Epic—and one available in cans—is Hop Syndrome lager, part of the brewery's Exponential Series. I'm not sure what hops are used in this one—they're said by Epic to be "rare"—but I like the crisp, citrusy hops that are well-balanced, not overpowering, with classic pale-lager malts. It's effervescent, extremely drinkable and refreshing on hot summer days. Trade in your Bud or Coors for this one.
If you're in the market for a South of the Border "slice of lime"-type beer, get your lips around the seasonal Little Sister Cerveza at Avenues Proper Restaurant & Publik House. Described as a "blue corn Mexican-style lager" by the brewer, Little Sister is actually brewed with malted blue corn. In fact, blue corn makes up more than 30 percent of the lager. Add German Tettnanger hops and substantial carbonation and you've got a fizzy, festive beer that rocks with the kitchen's Spicy Prop-corn.
For more than 20 years, I've been enjoying Wasatch Brewery's seasonal, summertime Raspberry Wheat beer. Don't let the straw color of this brew fool you, it tastes pink. And I say that lovingly, in the way I love well-made Rosé wines. I could drink this all day—and, on occasion, I have. It's got a dense head that dissipates slowly, with aromas of raspberry (naturally) and kiwi. The candied raspberry flavor—subtle, not in-your-face—along with an overall lightness, is what keeps me coming round to this refreshing fruit brew every year.
Red Rock Brewery's classic Honey Wheat Ale lives up to its name: a wonderfully refreshing and light brew with hints of honey. No wonder it's such a crowd-pleaser, especially in summer.
I remember having the opportunity to taste Squatters' Full Suspension Pale Ale years ago, before it was officially released. I loved it then and I love it now. This two-time Gold Medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival is a Northwest-style pale ale that's one of the best 4-percent ABV beers I've tasted. There are pineapple and pine scents on the nose, with nicely balanced bitterness from 40 International Bittering Units of dry-hopping—I'd suspect Cascade and/or Chinook hops. Overall, this is a brilliant session-style pale ale.
Named Radius because Desert Edge Brewery's Radius beer is brewed from components found within a 150-mile radius of the Wasatch Front, this is a "green-hopped," grassy blond ale. As a hophead myself, I love this seasonal brew that stands out in a summertime crowd.
What's your favorite summertime brew?