Owner of Beautiful Beers in Bury St Edmunds, Rene van den Oort, gives us his pick of summer beers
What we eat and drink is hugely dependent on the weather. In winter people crave wholesome, substantial food and drink. Dishes such as a hot casserole, or stew, with dumplings and served with a smooth dark beer to compliment the strong, rich flavours.
In summer on the other hand it is almost completely the opposite; a nice fresh salad, crusty bread and a nice light, refreshing cold beer. And with the weather now finally seeing an improvement, the time is perfect to try some of these wonderfully refreshing drinks.
These thirst-quenching beers are generally quite low in alcohol which, in the recent past, meant a fairly weak, watery beer lacking flavour and taste. But a lot has changed in the last few years with breweries adapting new styles, using better and more interesting ingredients and improving brewing techniques.
We are now seeing more Berliner Weisse style beers, a beer that is naturally soured with lactobacillus (think yoghurt) creating a fresh, slightly tart wheat beer. These beers are often blended with fruit to give it an extra flavour profile and complexity. These are generally between 3 and 5% abv.
Another recent re-launch is the ‘Table Beer’. This style is probably one of the oldest styles of beer as this fairly weak beer, often made from the left-over malt of the strong, rich ale brewed for the well off, was mainly served with a meal. Well water was not always safe to drink and as beer production involves lengthy boils as well as the addition of hops, with their naturally anti-bacterial properties, beer was a far safer option to water. The strength was between 2 and 3% abv.
And then there is the more recent Session Pale Ale or Session IPA. In recent years we have seen a huge number of experimental beers within this style but it appears that two main ingredients have had the most and best influence; the addition of wheat and oats. These two ingredients, as well as the usual barley, hops, a soft water profile coupled with smooth flavoured yeast, creates a lovely soft and creamy, refreshing beer that is full in flavour and rich in complexity. These beers can be anything from 2.5% up to 5.5% abv.
There are a numerous beers currently available of this style, but here’s my top 5 pick of summer beers:
1 Kernel Table Beer 3% (Smooth, refreshing & full flavoured)
2 Track Sidewinder Table Beer 2.7% (Hoppy, very drinkable)
3 De Ranke Simplex 4.5% (Belgian style IPA, deliciously hoppy)
4 Evil Twin Bikini Beer Session IPA 2.7% (Fruity USA hops, balanced Pale Ale)
5 Whiplash Body Riddle Session IPA 4.5% (Smooth, creamy Dublin IPA)
So, whether you’ve just finished mowing the lawn or are just lounging about in the garden, some of these might just hit the spot. Don’t worry too much whether it reads Berlin, Table or Session on the label, if you try it and like it you can call it what you like. I call them delicious.
René van den Oort is owner of Beautiful Beers
1b St John’s Street
Bury St Edmunds