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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 beers. Then get out there and experience the local craft beer scene, at home and in your travels!

 
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American IPA

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.

 Station #1 IPA, Oswego Brewing Company; Oswego, IL

Station #1 IPA, Oswego Brewing Company; Oswego, IL

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

 


Saison

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.

 Farmland Saison, Oswego Brewing Company; Oswego, IL

Farmland Saison, Oswego Brewing Company; Oswego, IL

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

ABV: 4.5%-5.5%

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.

 Swine in the Streets, Oswego Brewing Company; Oswego IL

Swine in the Streets, Oswego Brewing Company; Oswego IL

A side note: while we discussed American wheat beers in this section, pictured is actually a Belgian witbier. Same look, similar beer, different yeast.

STYLE: ale

ABV: 4%-7%

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!

Pin this post and be ready for your summer beer travels!

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