3 Warm Weather Beers Every U.S. Traveler Should Know
Approximately 6,000 craft breweries operate across the United States today. Because craft beer is typically highly representative of its location, today's craft breweries offer 6,000 opportunities for travelers to engage with their destinations in a fun, new way.
But to truly engage and make the most out of each visit to a microbrewery, brewpub or beer fest, it helps to know a little more about the beer you're drinking.
So this spring and summer, study up on these three popular warm weather beer styles. Then get out there and experience the local craft beer scene, at home and in your travels!
Some 200 years ago, British brewers loaded IPAs (India Pale Ales) with hops as a means of preserving them for their long transport to India.
While today's American IPA style continues to elevate hop flavor, aroma and bitterness, it is not for the purpose of trans-oceanic shipping; the American IPA is the top-selling craft beer style in supermarkets and liquor stores right here in its homeland.
An American IPA is crafted to showcase the floral, fruity, citrus-like, piney or resinous American hop varieties.
A side note: We are not typically into extremely hoppy beers, thus not a huge fan of IPAs. But the perfectly balanced hops of this American IPA actually earned the Station #1 IPA a spot on our Beer Page's fav beers list!
STYLE: pale ale
ABV (alcohol by volume): 5.5%-7.5%
FLAVORS: citrus, floral, fruity and/or piney flavors
HOP FLAVOR: medium to very high hop flavor of citrus, floral, pine, resin, spice, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, melon
HOP BITTERNESS: medium-high to very high hop bitterness
CARBONATION: medium to medium-high
COLOR: medium gold to light reddish-amber
CLARITY: traditionally clear, but unfiltered & cloudy becoming more common
HEAD: medium to large, white to off-white; variable retention
Saisons (which means "seasons" in French) were initially brewed by 18th century farmers in Belgium during late winter, then stored to be served to farmhands during the summer. Alcohol content was typically lower, helping to keep farmhands on task.
Today, saisons are under-appreciated in their home country. But their typically hoppy character appeals to U.S. craft beer enthusiasts.
Much like the early Belgian Saisons that varied widely from farmhouse to farmhouse, American interpretations of the Saison style varies greatly from brewer to brewer.
A side note: if you're intrigued by the new sour beer craze, but need to kind of ease into it, consider this Farmland Saison your "gateway" beer.
STYLE: Belgian ale
FLAVORS: complex flavor of the yeasts gives a “funkiness;" sour notes, often reminiscent of citrus fruits
HOP FLAVOR: moderate+ spicy, floral, earthy, or fruity hops
HOP BITTERNESS: moderate
CARBONATION: typically highly carbonated
COLOR: pale straw to pale orange, pale golden to amber, or copper to dark brown
CLARITY: unfiltered & cloudy; effervescent
HEAD: dense, rocky white to ivory head; long-lasting retention
American Pale wheat ales
Inspired by German Weissbiers, at least 50% of the grain in an American Pale Wheat Ale is -what else?- wheat.
An American Pale Wheat Ale won’t have any of the banana or clove flavors commonly associated with a German Hefeweizen. Those flavors result from a specific yeast strain used in Germany; most American brewers use more neutral yeasts.
Wheat ales were popular in the United States before Prohibition. With the rise of craft beers, wheat ales are enjoying a comeback.
A side note: while we discussed American wheat beers in this section, pictured is actually a Belgian witbier. Same look, similar beer, different yeast.
FLAVORS: grainy, bready, or doughy wheat; light to moderate malty sweetness is acceptable
HOP FLAVOR: low to moderate hop flavor of citrus, spice, floral, or fruit; a more marked hop accent than classic German weizen (wheat) styles
HOP BITTERNESS: low to moderate
CARBONATION: medium to high
COLOR: pale yellow to golden
CLARITY: often cloudy
HEAD: large, white head; good retention
SOURCES: http://allaboutbeer.com/beer_style/saison/ ∙ http://www.americancraftbeer.com/what-the-hell-is-a-saison/ ∙ https://www.bjcp.org/docs/2015_Guidelines_Beer.pdf ∙ https://www.craftbeer.com/styles/american-india-pale-ale ∙ https://learn.kegerator.com/american-ipa/ ∙ https://vinepair.com/beer-101/american-wheat-ale-beer-style-guide/
What's your favorite warm weather beer?
Tell us about it in the comments!
See our Beer Page for more beer basics!
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