Going to a bar in the summer to order a beer used to be an easy task. Order a Corona or Sam’s Summer and call it a day. But now fancy terms like “Saison” and “Hefeweizen” are put in front of you making the choices more daunting but also more delicious. Below is a quick guide to some of those terms (with help from BeerAdvocate.com) along with some summer favorites to look out for.
Saison / Farmhouse Ale – Saisons are a style that was typically brewed in the winter at farms with the intention of drinking in the summer. This is a complex style that can very greatly but is typically very fruity in both the smell and taste. You should taste some earthy yeast tones, which will often provide some tartness or sour to the taste. Some beers will have some spices while others will be a little dryer with touch of sweetness.
Top Picks: Ommegang Hennepin (NY), Goose Island Sofie (IL), and The Bruery Saison Rue (CA)
Hefeweizen: Hefeweizen is a Germany style of a wheat beer that is made up of up to ~50% wheat in addition to barley. “Hefe” means “with yeast,” which is why this beer is not filtered and you, can both see and taste it. Lots of different flavors and smells come through with the most common being banana, clove, and even apple.
Top Picks: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier (Germany), Seirra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen (CA), and Troegs DreamWeaver Wheat (PA)
American Pale Wheat Ale: This is the American version of the Hefeweizen (yes we copy things). They will typically be a little less intense in the wheat and yeast flavor and be a bit more “summer drinkable.” Still going to be light in body, highly carbonated; think Sam’s Summer for this one.
Top Picks: Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale (CA), Magic Hat Circus Boy (VT), and Southern Tier Hop Sun (NY)