Sam’s Sips: Local bartenders discuss what makes for good summer beerAs the dog days of summer descend, so too have our desires for a cool and refreshing beer. And when it comes to a good summer brew, bartenders agree that it should ideally be light, easy-to-drink and refreshing.
As the dog days of summer descend, so too have our desires for a cool and refreshing beer.
And when it comes to a good summer brew, bartenders agree that it should ideally be light, easy-to-drink and refreshing.
And in the conversation of best summertime beers, one name seems to come up most often: shandy, a mix between beer and lemonade.
Kent Larsen, general manager of Three Lyons Pub in West Fargo, calls shandy an “incredibly perfect” summer beer because it’s so easy to drink and so refreshing for the drinker.
And though Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy is the best-known and most-available shandy out there, Larsen says anyone can mix their own batch at home, using a simple recipe of two parts beer and one part lemonade.
The end result will vary depending on the beer and lemonade used. Jesse Forster, a bartender at Granite City in Fargo, says lighter, American-style beers make for the best shandy.
But if shandy is a little too fruity and doesn’t taste enough like a regular beer for you, there are plenty of other seasonal options out there.
Wheat or Belgian-style beers, like the well-known Blue Moon, are especially popular during the summer as well. Often garnished with a lemon or orange, the citrusy taste of wheat beers helps them stand out when the weather gets hot.
In addition, styles like pilsners and lighter ales in general also make for a good beer this time of year, according to Larsen.
“They’re light, milder in flavor,” he says.
At Granite City, where the restaurant brews its own beers, bartenders are able to take an extra step and mix ales, lagers and other styles together to create new tastes.
Forster points to his summer favorite at the restaurant – the Admiral, a mix of the IPA and the American lager – as an example of this.
By mixing the two together, Forster says the Admiral has an especially mellow, crisp taste that you can’t get with just a lager or just an ale.
And even though the beers at Granite City are unique to the chain, it’s not hard to find similar summer beers around Fargo-Moorhead establishments.
For example, if you’re looking for that kind of refreshing, crisp beer described by Larsen and Forster, check out the Widmer Citra Blonde or Deschutes Twilight, both American-style blonde ales; or American-style wheat brews Bell’s Oberon and local Fargo Brewing Company’s Summer Wheat.
Or, look to one of this reporter’s favorite summer beers – Shiner’s Ruby Redbird, a lager brewed with the unique combination of grapefruit and ginger – for a more off-beat taste.
If traditional beer isn’t your thing, though, Larsen recommends trying Woodchuck’s seasonal blueberry cider, also an alternative for people with gluten allergies.
Whatever your tastes or preferences, just ask your local bartender for their seasonal recommendation. Then kick back, enjoy and repeat.