Best Beer Finds of Summer 2016

IMG_20160708_200729For whatever reason, I tend to spend the spring attending beer festivals looking for interesting brews that I can enjoy for the upcoming summer. My husband loves his IPAs and the hoppier the better, which is great for summer . But not me, I’m a porter and stout kinda girl, and a dark, heavy beer doesn’t work well for me on the beach.  No, for the summer, I have to find make it my mission to find an interesting, different, possibly new to the market beer (sometimes wine) that I can enjoy while I float.  Yes, my cooler floats too.

After making my rounds at beer festivals in the spring and Beer Bloggers Conference in early July, my summer beer collection grew to include some shocking (for me) selection.

JDub’s Passion Wheat

wp-image-2062947491jpg.jpgMy favorite bar far this summer.  After trying it in late spring, I new instantly that this was my go-to beer for the summer of 2016.  And, after the owner helped me get it in my local ABC, why wouldn’t I drink it daily!?!  While I hate sweets and I’m not to fond of sweet wine and cider, I love the flavor of fruit, and this beer definitely delivers.  Granted, it’s in a pink can and there are gentlemen out there who wouldn’t be caught dead walking down the beach with a pink can of beer.  My suggestion…POUR IT IN YOUR YETI!!!!  You need to try this beer.

Made with passion fruit and mango, this American Pale Wheat Ale rings in at a low 4.2% abv making it perfect for an all day float in the Gulf.  Unlike some of my other favorites from summers past that needed to be poured into a glass to taste right, this one is fine just as it is!  It’s crisp, cool, light but not lacking flavor, and to me, tastes a little guava-y.  Maybe it’s the combination of tart passion fruit and sweet mango or maybe I’m crazy, but I definitely taste a hint of guava.

Ulele Springs Wedding Beer

ulele springs wedding beer

Wedding Beer is an unfiltered lager with seriously distinct malty, berry flavors and an abv IMG_20160709_194742of almost 5%.  Like the Passion Wheat, it’s crisp and cool for summer, but this one goes one step further.  It’s amazing with grilled food, especially a tray of Ulele Charbroiled Oysters.  I know it sounds like an odd combo, but the cool berry flavor with the briny roast of the oysters is perfect; neither flavor over powers the other and leave me going back for more…of both!

Fat Point Big Boca Ale

IMG_20160806_144940Whenever we get to a new town for a vacation or weekend getaway, we like to hit local liquor stores and larger supermarkets to see if they are carrying any new beer that we haven’t tried. This year’s summer vacation with the kids was no different.  As soon as we got to the beach, we went grocery shopping where we found beer canned by a brewery that we’d heard of, but never visited or tasted. Soooo, we bought a couple six-packs.

As it turns out, Fat Point Brewing was just down the street from us (ok, it was more like 20 miles, but that’s still really close), and while their distribution area is still relatively small, south of Tampa Bay to Naples, they are one of the fastest growing craft breweries in Florida.

Anyway, the Big Boca Ale is a California Common or Steam Beer, which is an American Style Lager using a strain of yeast that can handle the higher temps of California, making it perfect for Florida brewing. At a 5.1%abv, this beer is actually a session ale brewed with a Pilsner base.  The combination of Caramel and Vienna malts give it a roasty, caramely flavor with minimal hoppiness and bitterness.

Terrapin Watermelon Gose

IMG_20160709_174105This one surprised me.  I’ve never cared for goses.  I guess they’ve just been a bit to tart for me, but considering how much I love a slice of salted watermelon, this one won me over.  Yes, some of us Southerners love to sprinkle salt on our watermelon; it brings out the sweetness, and that’s just what this beer reminds me of.

At only a 4.3% abv and super low (almost non-existent) IBUs, this gose combines watermelon, sea salt, and corriander to make a slightly salty, slightly tart, super refreshing beach beer.  It kinda makes me think of Gatorade with its salty aftertaste, and I love lemon-lime Gatorade. This beer spent many afternoons floating with me at the beach. Oh and on a side note…when you fall off the raft and swallow half the ocean, this beer is great for getting nasty ocean taste out of your mouth.

Dogfish Head Flesh & Blood IPA

IMG_20160708_200729This is the truest shock of the summer.  I finally, after years of searching, have found an IPA that I like, that’s not a flower shop in my mouth, that doesn’t make me feel like I ate every grass clipping from the lawn mower.  Yeah…I usually don’t like IPAs, but this one?!?! WOW!  My husband says that I’ve made him proud.  I’m pretty sure he cried a little.

Anyway, this IPA might be the strongest (abv) beer I drank all summer.  At 7.5% abv, daily temps in the high 90s, and nearly 100% humidity, I had to be careful with this one.  As tasty and refreshing as it is, I knew that I couldn’t drink them like water, but I could have…quite easily!

Made with lemon flesh and blood orange juice and orange and lemon peel , this IPA is waaaay more citrusy than hoppy, and the combination of citrus gave it a grapefruit-like taste.  I’m not much of an IPA groupie, so I’m not as familiar with hop names.  However, in talking with brewery reps at the Beer Bloggers Conference, my husband got quite excited (I think he might have peed a little) over their use of three different hops, one of which was a rare experimental hop.  Whatever it was or however those hops worked together, the end result was the best tasting IPA I’ve ever had.

All in all, this was the most beer-productive summer I’ve ever had.  Typically, I’ve latched on to one beer (or wine) each summer and been happy, but this summer, I had a lot more variety.  I don’t know if my palate is expanding or the breweries are producing more variety, but I’m happy with my new finds and excited to see what the breweries will cook up next summer.

 

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