Seasonal Quaffing

The beers of summer

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Friday, June 21 marks the beginning of summer and a time when many beer lovers gravitate to lighter and more refreshing beers to match the warmer days.

“Summer beers,” as they’re loosely categorized, include a wide range of beer styles, though they hold the common thread of being light, refreshing, easy to drink and relatively low in alcohol, making them better served for multi-hour barbecues, water activities, outdoor games and sports. Below are some beers to try that are perfectly suited for the season.

If summer could be squeezed into a bottle or a can, Summer Ale by Fremont Brewing Company might be how it tastes. It offers citrusy pops of tangerine, a balanced amount of bitterness and gentle aromas that will make you think you’re standing in a wildflower-filled meadow. For a “SMaSH” beer, which is a single malt and single hop beer, it’s surprisingly complex and flavorful. It’s also easy to quaff.

Kulshan Brewery’s light, crisp, slightly sweet and slightly tart Dude Man Wheat Ale is the quintessential summer ale, but that choice is too easy. Instead (or in addition to Dude Man), you really must try the brewery’s new summer seasonal, Hop Howdy Belgian Blonde. Sure, it has more than 8 percent alcohol by volume, so it’s a tad strong for your typical summer beer, but it’s no less refreshing, and its Belgian yeast esters conjure up images of blooming flowers and sun-soaked farmland. It finishes with a blast of spicy hop flavors and a healthy amount of bitterness. And if that doesn’t sound like your average Belgian ale, it’s not. Though in recent times, a growing number of Belgian brewers—including Achouffe, Het Anker, and De Ranke, to name a few—have begun brewing some rather hop-forward ales imitating American-style IPAs. “Hop Howdy is our take on some Belgian brewers’ take on the American IPA,” Kulshan founder Dave Vitt explains with a laugh.

Boundary Bay Brewery’s Pilsner is the brewery’s highly anticipated summer seasonal. Being a lager, it is fermented longer and cooler than ale, which helps to create smoother, drier and less-fruity flavors. Noble hop additions give it a balanced hop bitterness level as well as delicate hop aromas, and Pilsner, Munich, and Vienna malts contribute to the beer’s light but flavorful malt backbone.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Summerfest is a Czech Pilsner-style lager with a subtle, honey-like sweetness, rich and grainy malt flavors, a floral and peppery hop profile, and a crisp and dry finish. It’s full of flavor, yet incredibly easy to drink.

The Helles style of beer (“hell” means “pale” or “light” in German, and “helles” means “bright”) was Munich’s response to the Czech Pilsner. Compared to Pilsner, Helles is slightly maltier, lower in alcohol and less bitter. Chuckanut Brewery’s Helles Lager is a perfect example of the style, and panels of expert beer judges agree. This year, it won gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and the Washington Beer Awards, and a silver medal at the North American Beer Awards.

Some fruit beers are too sticky and sweet. Others lack a noticeable fruitiness. 21st Amendment Brewery’s Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer seems to be just right. This American-style wheat beer is brewed with watermelon, which contributes a pinch of sweetness and some pleasantly fruity background aromas.

Rolle Bolle by New Belgium Brewing Company is named after a Belgian yard game that can be conveniently played with a beer in one hand. This summer seasonal has oaty and cracker-like malt flavors, a mild hop bitterness, and a crisp, dry and quenching finish. Adding to its refreshing qualities, Rolle Bolle is brewed with two exotic fruits—monk fruit and soursop—that imbue it with tart, vinous and tropical fruit flavors, plus a pinch of sourness, making it the ideal accoutrement to a hot summer day.

More Food...
Eat Local Month
A gold medal standard

If eating local were an Olympic sport, Whatcom County would likely be in the running for a gold medal.

In fact, every September we enter an intense training period known as Eat Local Month. Competitors join Sustainable Connections to celebrate the bounty that comes from the area’s…

more »
Firehall Cafe
Of appetites and art

Lynden is bustling these days, and there are no shortage of great places for a light lunch. One often-overlooked eatery on the city’s Front Street is the Firehall Cafe, located in the Jansen Art Center.

The bright, open-plan, 30-seat restaurant opened in 2012 with the debut of the center,…

more »
Small Potatoes
The spuds of summer

Potatoes are often considered a fall crop, to be hoarded in the root cellar through the winter, roasted with other roots and perhaps a sprig of rosemary and served alongside other hearty fare. But summer? Now is the time for spinach and lettuce, for peas, herbs, summer squash and all the…

more »
5Point Adventure Film Festival

10:00am|Downtown Bellingham

Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Barbecues and Beach Parties

5:30pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Ferndale Street Festival

6:00pm|Downtown Ferndale

Final Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Historic Fairhaven and downtown Bellingham

A Little Night Music

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center


9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverfront Plaza

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|Nugent's Corner

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Sedro Car Show

9:00am|United General Fitness Center


10:00am|Bellingham BMX

Sumas Writers Group

10:00am|Sumas Library

Discover Birch Bay Days

10:00am|Birch Bay Drive

Island Market

10:00am|Islander Grocery

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|Peace Portal Drive

Improv for Kids

10:30am|Improv Playworks

Fidalgo Bay Day

11:00am|Fidalgo Bay Resort

A Swinging Weekend

12:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Holly Street History Tour

1:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

This Old House

2:00pm|Point Roberts Community Center

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Drinking for Dogs

4:00pm|Green Frog Acoustic Tavern

Downtown Throwdown

4:00pm|Public Market

Scary Monster & the Super Creeps

5:00pm|Heart of Anacortes

Toys for Tots Benefit Concert

5:00pm|Eagle Haven Winery

Moonlight in Margaritaville

5:30pm|Maple Hall

An Evening with Ann Morris

7:30pm| Lummi Island Library

Circus on the Water

8:00pm|Lookout Arts Quarry and Boundary Bay Brewery

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Northwood Steak and Crab
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

A Little Night Music

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Discover Birch Bay Days

10:00am|Birch Bay Drive

A Swinging Weekend

12:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Chuckanut Classic

6:30am|Boundary Bay Brewery

Veterans Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Post 1585

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Run to Fight Blindness

9:00am|Cascadia Eye

Marsh Mucking

10:00am|Tennant Lake Interpretive Center

Anacortes Open Streets

11:00am|Commercial Avenue

International Concert Series Finale

2:00pm|Peace Arch Provincial Park

Cirque Literary Journal Reading

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Chuckanut Writers Info Session

4:00pm|Village Books,

Sunday Night Fusion

7:00pm|Presence Studio

Bellingham Farmer’s Market Artifacts Wine Bar
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

We Grow Market

3:00pm|Northwest Youth Services

Music Enrichment Project Meet and Greet

4:00pm|Piper Music

Open Mic

7:00pm|Village Books

Get Out More Tour

7:30pm|Backcountry Essentials


8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library


9:30pm|Green Frog

see our complete calendar »

Northwood Steak and Crab Swinomish 2016 Bellingham Farmer’s Market 5 Point Film Festival Village Books Artifacts Wine Bar Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Andrew Subin