Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Blackstone, Abita and Shiner Release Great New Summer Brews

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 8:46 AM

Hot summer days call for cold beers, and fortunately many of your favorite breweries put out special seasonal releases just in time for pool and lake season. Instead of the traditional hefeweizen or a Blue Moon with a slice of orange, check out some of these new classics.

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.

Another great summer beer, which I first sampled at the East Nashville Beer Festival, is Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager. Another wheat-based beer, Strawberry Harvest is made with Louisiana strawberries picked at the height of their ripeness. The berries are definitely noticeable on the nose of the beer, but not overpowering upon tasting. The relatively high carbonation levels also perk up the flavors quite a bit and make this a very refreshing treat. If you're a fan of Abita's Purple Haze, which is their raspberry wheat product, you'll probably really like this one. I am, and I do!

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.

Spoetzl's latest offering is their new Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale. A classic American Pale Ale, Wild Hare is made with American barley, both Munich and caramel malts and two different types of hops for a crisp bitterness and hoppy (no pun intended, I swear) floral aromas. This beer is fairly straightforward, but really easy to drink. The bitter hops do dominate, but they don't linger. Instead there is a bit of a grassy finish. But then again, I did try it for the first time after mowing my yard. ...

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.

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