August 15, 2014 0 comments
I've sampled a lot of beers this summer, but one that really stood out is the Indigo Imp Blonde Bombshell that I picked up at the high-end market in town. It was smooth, very rich and clearly had the nose of a bottle-conditioned beer. But what struck me the most was the bright, yeasty- flavor that brought back some great memories.

Over 25 years ago, my wife and and I couldn't really afford much of a honeymoon, so we spent a weekend in Frankenmuth, Michigan - a great little town (cough-tourist trap) that offers some great places to visit and some great food.

At the time, they had a Carling Black Label brewery in town, we went on a tour and the fresh Black Label in the hospitality room was actually pretty good. Also in town was the little Frankenmuth Brewery, which offered two kinds of beer--regular pale lager and a dark beer.

I purchased a six-pack of the lager and took it back to Ohio with us. It was good, but what I remember most was the incredible, fresh, yeasty flavor--with which I was not familiar at all, and not found in any other beer I'd had at the time (this was 1983, after all). At the time, I later discovered that the strange, fruity taste I was experiencing was due to the still-active yeasts in the brew; I wasn't sure it was something I preferred, but it was a memorable taste, nonetheless.

That original Frankenmuth brewery is no more - it's been replaced by a new version, with much more sophisticated and higher-quality beers. But the yeasty brightness of this Indigo Imp bombshell brought it readily to mind. I still have my wax-sealed "imp" bottle in the fridge - I have a feeling  it will possibly improve with a month or more of aging - if I can resist drinking it a little longer.

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Every summer,  my normal beer-drinking habits morph into something slightly more plebian - I generally gravitate towards lighter beers and ales, usually mixed with lemonade during hot afternoons lounging around the pool. That preference is supported by long experience; for some reason, Mexican-style beers like Corona, Modelo and even bottles of  Land Shark can be enjoyed in quantity on the hottest of days without giving me a headache.

So it should be no surprise that Shandies of various types are regularly sampled, along with some other lighter types that I wanted to try. Here's a brief look at some of what I've enjoyed this summer...

Sam Adams Porch Rocker
Wasn't expecting a lot, but I actually enjoyed this--and have purchased it on more than one occasion. Nice, solid brew with a light, lemon twang that was reasonably natural-tasting. Refreshing and dependable.

Leinenkugel Summer Shandy
I used to really like this brand. But that was before they began selling it at a premium price. Their original red ale was solid, but this shandy was a big disappointment. Forgettable beer with a very artificial lemon taste - more akin to a lemon cough drop than real fruit.

Hopping Frog Turbo Shandy
Easily the best beer I had all summer.  Delicious ale, rich - but not too hoppy, with a rich, sweet, lemon zest that called upon me to drink more and more. Unfortunately, at about $7 for a 22oz bottle, that is unlikely. But this stuff is delicious - and that's not just hometown bias.

Great Lakes Brewing- The Wright Pils
This was a real letdown. I generally love GL beers, but I've found that more of their beers are starting to have the same "hop profile" - making it harder to discern what style of beer I am drinking. Pilsners should be light, golden, clean and drinkable -- but this was way too hoppy [and bitter] to fit the style. It was the same situation with the GL Oktoberfest I tried last fall...way over-hopped for the beer style.

Seems their brewmaster has fallen into the American craft-beer trap of throwing too much hop into the brew kettle. My feeling is that if you can't stay true to the real "style" of the beer--that's fine--but then you should just call it something else.

Stiegl Radler
No, I did not try the grapefruit radler that seems to be the hot thing now. The local ultra-high end market in town had a couple cases of the stuff in the beer aisle, but I prefer the original lemon, which really does have more of the "lemon soda pop" mouth feel than more typical shandies, and is absolutely delicious. I usually take a few bottles of this to my friend's annual summer-ending luau and it's always a big hit. Awesome stuff.

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