By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
It is hot on Long Island this week — really hot — and has been for a few weeks not. Couple that with my wife Nena being pregnant and you get where I am today — more beer filling my glass, both at home and at restaurants.
I'm an extremely seasonal drinker — whether we're talking beer or wine. In the winter, I drink far more red wines than white. The opposite is true in the summer. There are exceptions of course (these are personal guidelines rather than rules), including riesling and cabernet franc. I drink those year round.
My beer tastes change seasonally too (with hoppy ales the constant). During the warmer months, I tend to lighters, less-sweet beers, including these five New York beers — ones that are available outside of growler fills — that I've been enjoying so far this spring and summer:
Brooklyn Brewery Summer Ale: This is likely the most easily found (aka most widely distributed) beer on this list, but it's a go-to beer fro me — especially because you can find it on bar and restaurant tap lists this time of year. Thought technically an English Pale Ale, I find it just a bit citrusy along with notes of grain and subtle, herbal hops.
Best of all, especially if I were a camper or had a boat, it's now available in cans as well as the standard bottles. I dig good beer in cans — for so many reasons.
Brewery Ommegang Hennepin: Those who know me well, or at least my beer tastes, know that I love saisons and this is a perennial favorite. It may not be as funky and earthy as some beers of this style, but that's why I like it in the summer. It's decidedly Belgian up front with fruity esters, but finishes dry with subtle coriander seed and citrus zest notes.
Ithaca Beer Company Partly Sunny: I first had this beer last July on a trip to Ithaca with my wife, Nena. We had just finished hiking Buttermilk Falls on a steamy 90+ degree day and stopped in at the brewery almost on a whim. We tasted through the whole lineup, but this wit was the beer that best quenched our thirst and reinvigorated us. Very easy drinking and a real crowd-pleaser.
Sixpoint Craft Ales "The Crisp": Something strange has happened with my palate over the last couple of years. Either that or I just wasn't drinking the right pilseners. I didn't think that I liked them, but I've had this one on a handful of occasions (both from a growler and now from the brewery's new 16 oz. "nano-kegs") and I plan to pick up some more this weekend.
It's what pilsener is supposed to be — clean and refreshing — with just a bit of hop character at the end. Maybe that's why I like it so much.
Southampton Publick House Double White: Wheat-grain, banana and spice flavors combine here to create a beer that never lasts long when I serve it at a summer bbq. It's a bit creamy on the mid-palate, but never cloying, finishing crisp and subtly spicy. Most importantly — in my house anyway — it's as popular with the beer geeks as it is with the macro-brew drinkers that so often find themselves at our parties. I hold out hope that this beer will serve as a gateway beer to craft ales for at least some of them.
These are just some of my favorites from what is a wide-open category. What are some of your favorite New York beers for summer?