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Beer Break Vol. 2, No. 35
Summer beer tips

June 13, 2002

SUMMER BEER I

In summer we talk about "lawnmower beers" and thirst quenchers. There are plenty of choices: German weissbeers, cold Czech pilseners, hoppy pale ales, malty porters ... they are all great in early evening shade. But remember, they aren't the first thing you should be drinking when you are hot, sweaty and just plain thirsty.

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Fact is, alcohol is a diuretic, so it will further dehydrate you (with the alcohol in the beer likely going straight to your head). On hot summer days we've found a trick we learned from Fred Eckhardt - the venerable dean of American beer writers - particularly useful.

Fred does this year round, in fact. He alternates glasses of water with glasses of beer. It cuts down on dehydration, it slows the effects of alcohol consumption, and it clears your palate for the next beer. Even if you don't want to follow every beer with water, when you are really thirsty consider starting with a glass of water. And don't be shy about at alternating at least sips of water with pints of beer as the evening wears on. Your head will thank you in the morning.

SUMMER BEER II

So when you pour that wheat beer should you cut a slice of lemon to go with it? Fact is, it's a matter of personal taste. The tartest of wheat beers, such as Berliner Weisse, are usually served with lemon, woodruff or syrups to cut the acidity. However, wheat beers, from weissbiers to Bavarian weizens to English and American wheat beers, cover a broad range. If you like lemon with your wheat beer, by all means enjoy it that way. But don't feel obligated.

Michael Jackson writes: "When I first encountered South German wheat beers, in the early to mid 1960s, they were regarded as an old-fashioned, rustic style, favored by old ladies with large hats. The beer was at that time customarily garnished with a slice of lemon.

"People have told me the lemon was to mask the taste of the uneven products made at that time by unscientific country brewers; I do not believe that. Some of the wilder wheat beers might taste odd to the uninitiated, but not to people who grew up with them.

"I have also heard it said that the lemon reduced the foam to manageable proportions, but why would anyone want to flatten a naturally sparkling drink? I believe the lemon accentuated the tart, refreshing character of the beer, and I am sorry that it is so rarely seen in Germany today."

SUMMER BEER III

Jackson has an article in the July issue of Bon Appetit magazine headed "Red, White, and Brew: U.S. beer-makers are drawing inspiration from Europe to create terrific, barbecue-friendly brews." He lists a number of beers to go with barbecue:

Anchor Liberty Ale, Anderson Valley Hop Ottin', Goose Island IPA, Tupper's Hop Pocket Ale, New Belgium Brewing La Folie, Alaskan Brewing Smoked Porter, Rogue Smoke, Victory Brewing Whirl Wind Wit and New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red. He also mentions Russian River Brewing and Bridgeport Brewing without specifying particular beers.

Congratulations to WBC winners

Congratulations to all the brewers whose beers won medals in the World Beer Cup . The awards were handed out this week in Aspen, Colo.

We were specially pleased to see Christian Ettinger of Laurelwood Public House & Brewery in Portland, Ore., pick up two gold medals, including one in the particularly competitive Pale Ale category. A little over a year ago, Christian shared his thoughts on recipe creation with Beer Break readers. His philosophy is to keep it simple. He would rather use fewer malts in his beers and make sure they are all fresh. "There are plenty of things you can do in the brewhouse to make the beers different," he said. The approach obviously works. Read more from him.

Tasting notes

FINGER LAKES NUT BROWN ALE
Brewed by the Ithaca Beer Co. in New York
Michael Jackson writes: Mahogany color, Demerara sugar, rum and dark chocolate in the aroma. Light but smooth in body. Toasted cookies and treacle toffee in the palate. Some yeasty acidity. Restrained and gentle. Reminiscent of the darker type of brown ale once made throughout England (as opposed to the paler, slightly drier, style made in Newcastle and the Northeast).

EEL RIVER ORGANIC AMBER ALE
Brewed Eel River Brewing in California
Roger Protz writes:
Copper-colored beer with a foaming head, followed by a deep, complex aroma of biscuity malt, peppery hops and rhubarb fruit. Sweet malt in the mouth is balanced by bitter hops, while the finish has rich, creamy, chewy malt, tart fruit and resiny hops. Organic beer is becoming a small but influential part of the British beer scene and it's good to see American brewers going down the same green path.

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