With the hot days of summer upon us, crisp, clean, sessionable beers are the perfect accompaniment to picnics, sporting events or simply sitting in the shade enjoying the outdoors.
One inescapable trend in craft beer this summer has been the addition of citrus fruits, which naturally complement the citrusy character of many hops. Particularly in IPAs, brewers have added lemon, lime, orange, blood orange, mandarin, tangerine and grapefruit to new craft brew offerings. Two of the four beers recommended below include citrus, while the other two offer a more straightforward hoppy wheat ale and a session IPA.
Wolf Pup Session IPA
Wolf Pup Session IPA from Los Angeles’ Golden Road Brewing pours a hazy, golden color with a dense white head and a huge Galaxy hop aroma of grapefruit and tropical passion fruit. The flavor is dominated by sharp, bitter, piney hops with a touch of rye spice, but it is not nearly as dank as its namesake Wolf Among Weeds double IPA. The beer is light-bodied, crisp, bright, refreshing and dry, with a long-lasting bitter finish. The balance is definitely tilted to the hoppy side, giving the impression of a full-strength IPA despite being only 4.5 percent ABV. Anheuser-Busch InBev owns Golden Road.
San Francisco’s Fort Point Beer Co. brews Park, which the brewery describes as a “refreshing and hoppy wheat beer.” Park exhibits a hazy straw color with a huge rocky, white head and an aroma of lemony hops and mild wheat malt. Highly carbonated, the beer’s flavor includes gentle tartness from the combination of wheat and Belgian yeast, as well as a lemony hop flavor that mirrors the aroma and a mild hop bitterness most prominent in the finish. Clean, simple and fresh, Park is nothing too exciting, but it is refreshing and easy drinking at 4.7 percent ABV.
Orange Splash Lager
Anchor Brewing, the historical San Francisco brewery, collaborated with the San Francisco Giants on Orange Splash Lager, released just in time for the 2016 baseball season. Golden orange in hue with a tall, foamy ecru head, the aroma features slightly sweet malt with hints of orange peel and mild citrusy hops, and the flavor is very similar to the aroma. A slight hop bitterness contributes to an enjoyable balance and a mild finish. The orange peel and mandarin juice in the brew add a pleasant, subtle flavor without going over the top. The beer is moderately carbonated – a touch more carbonation might help to highlight the orange zest component and offset the malt sweetness.
Tangerine de Brettaville
San Jose’s Almanac Beer Co. manages to cover all the major craft beer trends at once with its Tangerine de Brettaville, which is (1) a sour farmhouse ale (2) aged in oak barrels with (3) tangerines and (4) dry-hopped with Citra hops. In the glass, the beer is a deep murky golden color with a thin eggshell-colored head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is simultaneously sweet and acidic, and much more reminiscent of pineapples than tangerines.
On the palate, the beer starts out tropical, sweet and fruity, with low carbonation, then slowly transforms in the mouth as the tart, acidic results of Brettanomyces fermentation take over, producing a sharp but pleasantly sour and mildly funky finish. Aside from the initial sweetness, the tangerine is hard to isolate, and the Citra hops do not stand out in the aroma, but the combination of all the components results in a refreshing summery brew.
Derek Wolfgram is a Certified Beer Judge through the Beer Judge Certification Program and an officer of the Silicon Valley Sudzers homebrew club. For more information, visit sudzers.org.