The Search for the Perfect Summer Beer

Swapping out your runners for flip-flops and your t-shirt with a better-ventilated sleeveless number just doesn’t cut it for the month of July. The golden sun lures you outside with her beauty, and like the Siren leading sailors to their death, she strikes you down with sunburns and dehydration. Indeed, it is an ongoing struggle to stay hydrated. On days like these, I implore you. Keep fighting the good fight.

Sometimes all you need to combat the heat (or dull the agony) is the perfect beer. A beer that precisely matches the requirements of your situation, a beer that delivers a cascade of refreshment throughout the body. I’ll examine the individual qualities that can supply the maximum “refreshment coefficient” to your unique summer lifestyle.

You are facing a blistering, maddening heat. This isn’t the time for a cellar-temp imperial stout.

The basic principle of the perfect beer is that it has to be frosty. Your body needs a coolant. Since each style of beer has a recommended serving temperature, you’ll want to choose a beer that is intended to be consumed at low temperatures.

Beers served between 0-4°c include Pale Lagers, Cream Ales, and just about anything you don’t really want to taste.

Many of the off-flavours you taste are masked by the cold but, (in some cases) are disgustingly noticeable once the bottle has been warmed by the sun. For something with a bit more flavour, the 4-7°c range includes such styles as the Pilsener, the Hefeweizen, and some Premium Lagers. The trick here is to find a beer that will still taste good after you awaken from a long sun-induced nap with scorched skin and a half-empty bottle beside you.

Another characteristic of the perfect beer is carbonation. As with temperature, carbonation can also mask the flavours of beer. A light effervescence is an incredibly refreshing quality, however beer with too much carbonation and not enough flavour to balance it out can taste a bit like club soda.

European Lagers, German Wheat Beers, and Belgian Ales are all traditionally more heavily carbonated styles and are great for hot weather.

Will this beer be washing down BBQ burgers, Sushi, or a fresh veggie wrap? When accompanying food, the sweetness of a beer due to its proportion of unfermented sugars is important. The resulting flavour profile can be sweet and malty, dry and bitter, or anything in between. As with wine, these flavour profiles go well with certain dishes.

Thus, if it’s the Pilsener you turn to when the heat goes up, try pairing the light body and slight hoppy bitterness with rich flavoured foods like hot wings or sushi. If you prefer something like a Hefeweizen or Belgian Wit, you’ll find that the strong banana and clove flavours produced by the yeast pair well with grilled fish or spicy Mexican dishes. For most BBQ dishes like burgers and steak, you may want to venture to a beer that provides a little more body, like an American Pale Ale which will accompany a flame grilled burger beautifully.

There you are, even more to think about next time you are at the liquor store, staring at a shelf full of craft beer, preparing for the weekend. Whether you go with a smooth Lager, a crisp Pilsener, or a flavourful Blonde Ale, you are now equipped to battle the heat. Good luck, thirsty warriors!
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Find yourself on a patio, conducting a beer search of your own? Snap a picture of your findings and hashtag #farandwide on Instagram!

Feature image found here.

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