Drink Well, Drink Local: Your Guide To The Beers of Summer


Drums, please! It’s officially summer in New England – that beautiful time of year when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of beer that’s refreshing, flavorful, and relatively low in alcohol content. Whatever your pleasure, it’s the perfect time of year to kick back and (responsibly!) indulge in some lighter fare, so let’s shine the spotlight on some of the best craft brews that the great state of Massachusetts has to offer this summer.

Lager & Light Lager: Lagers and summertime drinking have a proud tradition dating back hundreds of years, while their lighter cousins are designed to be the ultimate in crushable beer: brewed with enzymes that allow the yeast to digest all of the carbohydrates in the mash rather than just most of them, the end result is fewer calories and a milder flavor than a traditional lager.


Pale Ale & IPA: If you started venturing into the murky waters of craft beer twenty – or even ten – years ago, you might’ve found the letters “IPA” to be synonymous with “abrasively bitter” or “boozy AF”. That’s no longer the case; the drive to innovate and explore new techniques has lead New England brewers to cook up hoppy beers that are as low as 0 IBU (which is a standardized measure of bitterness – a typical IPA would score 40 or higher) and 2.6% ABV. What a time to be alive!


Saison/Farmhouse Ale: Saison, a farmhouse-style ale, is a reliable choice at any time of the year. The particular strains of yeast used to brew it typically impart a variety of distinctive flavors, from clove to banana to bubble gum, and a bit of a spicy, peppery kick at the end. However, most Saisons are usually in the 6-7% ABV range, which makes them a bit too strong to be considered ‘crushable’. Lighter versions of Saison are sometimes called ‘table beer’ (because they would be served with a meal – keep in mind that this was at a time when drinking water was generally unsafe) or ‘grisette’ (a French word meaning ‘gray’, because the beer would be brought to miners as a refreshment by working-class women who typically wore gray fabric). Still, for whatever reason, the sessionable Saison trend hasn’t really caught fire with Massachusetts brewers, so I’ve had to expand my reach in this category a bit.


Sour Beers and other esoteric styles: Although it’s recently become somewhat trendy, “Sour Beer” is a fairly unappetizing way to describe something that’s often quite tasty. Most sour beer being brewed today also incorporates fruit to some extent, and which helps mitigate any lingering unpleasantness. Doesn’t tart, tangy refreshment on a hot summer day sound like a good thing? I thought so!

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