The waning days of summer bring on some of the hottest weather of the year, with fierce sun, high humidity and unpredictable thunderstorms.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of what’s sometimes called the “dog days.” Mostly, I’m looking for beers to keep me cool as a cat. That means relatively light in body, and low in alcohol, but with enough flavor to be interesting.
With that in mind, here’s a mixed five-pack to try out during the sultry weeks ahead.
Arches Mexican Empire Lager — Released for the first time in cans in late June, this historic beer is a natural coming from Arches, an Atlanta brewery that focuses on lagers, a style that takes longer and is more labor-intensive and expensive to make. Mexican Empire is a Vienna-style lager commonly brewed in Mexico. Defined by its malt profile, it’s darker and richer than most summer sippers. But at just 5.2 percent alcohol, and with kilned Vienna malt and old-world Noble hops, it has a smooth, nutty flavor and a light bitterness that gives way to a clean, dry finish.
Creature Comforts Automatic Pale Ale — Returning in August on draft and in six-pack cans with a spiffy new design, Automatic is one of my favorite seasonal beers from Athens’ Creature Comforts. Dubbed a modern pale ale, at 5.2 percent, the alcohol content is perfect for the style. And the flavors and aromas from a mix of Mosaic and Crystal hops are both balanced and complex with classic citrus, herbal and pine notes. Refreshing and drinkable, as I’ve said before, it’s my nomination to go year-round, because I’d like to be enjoying it during college football season, too.
Monday Night I’m on a Boat — Sort of the sleeper of the newish Monday Night lineup, this golden ale was released as a summer seasonal but seems to be a fixture at both the brewery’s original Westside taproom and the Garage on Atlanta’s Eastside. At 4.8 percent, with very low bitterness, it’s billed as “easy drinking” and “enjoyable floating on the water, or hanging on shore.” Brewed with Pilsner malt and wheat, and finished with Lemondrop hops, it’s the kind of crisp, uncomplicated beer that’s often called crushable, and would make a food-friendly addition to an impromptu picnic.
SweetWater TripleTail Tropical IPA — SweetWater’s fruit-juicy-forward IPA went from seasonal to year-round, and on the way, won a medal at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival. At 5.5 percent, it gets the tropical flavors in its name from a blend of Bravo, Mosaic, Denali and Waimea hops, balanced by wheat, Pilsner and Carapils malts. Beyond the pale gold color, and bubbly white head, look for notes of papaya, pineapple and passion fruit among the citrus aromas and flavors. A touch of caramel on the palate meets a snap of bitterness in the finish for a nice balance.
Terrapin Golden Ale — Ultra light at just 5.3 percent, what Terrapin calls a golden ale could easily be a throwback to a lager-like cream ale, with a hint of the hops of a pale ale. It’s available year-round, but only in Georgia. I’d lost track of this one until recently, when I was offered a can at an outdoor concert. It hit the spot, with a mellow aroma, and a bit of body from a blend of Munich malt, malted wheat, and flaked barley. Cascade and Mount Hood hops are added sparingly, for a bitterness level that Bud Heavy drinkers could handle, along with a refreshing, off-dry finish.
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