Local favorite Blackstone doesn't release a lot of varieties just to expand their product line. Brewmaster Kent Taylor aims to share only the kinds of beer that he likes to drink, so when he's expands his repertoire, it's a pretty big deal. His latest creation is Picnic, an English-style summer ale that is reminiscent of a British Pale Ale in its hoppy and malty aromas, but with a much lighter body for hot weather drinking.
Taylor employs a significant portion of wheat in his recipe to offer this lighter body and to contribute a crisp finish. The resulting brew is eminently drinkable with just a hint of hoppy bitterness to separate it from fruitier summer beers. It is available across the Midstate area in bars and a few grocery stores. Or you can drink it almost straight from the barrel at Blackstone's flagship restaurant.
The third summer surprise that I've encountered lately comes from the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. I've been drinking Shiner Bock since I came this close to going to University of Texas for college. The Shiners that I pounded in a friend's dorm in Austin were a very compelling argument that lost out only to the promise of perfect weather and easy access to wine country at my eventual alma mater.
These beers won't be around forever, so go get yourself a Wild Hare and have a Picnic in a field of Strawberries. You'll thank me.