Summer beer, make me feel fine

by Mark Tichenor

I’m writing this during the opening match of the 2012 UEFA European championships, and there’s no better way to welcome the summer season than this awesome tournament. It’s also the time to consider what beers pair best with hot, sweltering weather.

The thing is, this really isn’t about the season. Although many breweries capitalize on certain calendar dates to market a rotating assortment of seasonal beers, the best and most quenching are available all year round. It’s in the summer, however, where they really come into their own.

Take Victory Prima Pils by Downingtown, PA’s Victory Brewing Company for example. A fearlessly brewed lager in the North German Pilsner style, Prima Pils is a case study in refreshment. Its super clean, lacking the heartier bready character of Czech pilsners, with an aromatic punch in the finish that makes you feel like you jammed your nose into a bunch of freshly shredded hop flowers. All of this fades into a delectable honey quality. It’s a beer that could actually make you look forward to doing yardwork.

Not to be outdone by their larger neighbor, Pottsville Pennsylvania’s Sly Fox Brewing Company Helles golden lager aims squarely at the palates of those who aren’t crazy about hop bitterness and enjoy a slightly chunky, sweet body with a clean finish. It’s a golden lager in the Munich style, a beer that takes some chutzpah to brew, as the clean character won’t disguise flaws caused by mistakes or ill-advised shortcuts in the brewing process. Helles is a tough style to nail, but Sly Fox comes damn close to the mark.

Seattle, Washington’s Pyramid Brewing also has an answer to the question of what to drink under a summer sun. Pyramid Curveball Blonde ale pours straw gold, with a lively apricot and peach aroma. There’s no fruit in this beer whatsoever, but the yeast imparts a fragrant, fruity character that finishes light and clean, a mild beer that should appeal to a wide spectrum of palates.

In a sense, this column is completely pointless. These days hundreds of American craft brews embody the light, refreshing character that make them perfect for a summer day, and it’s not the place of a regional beer writer to anoint any of them as “Best.” Still, I know what I’ll be enjoying this summer. This tournament may be all about Europe, but my beer choices are decidedly American.

In other Beers:

Custom Brewcrafters just got a whole lot bigger. Monday saw the installation of two new 60-barrel fermenters and a 60 barrel brite beer tank that increases the Honeyoe Falls brewery’s fermentation capacity by a whopping 75 percent .

This expansion is necessary because CB’s biggest customer, 3 Heads Brewing, is blowing up all over the northeast. At current capacity, Custom is struggling to supply 3 Heads’ demand in Chicago, Boston and now New York City.

The expansion  should also mean a jump in Custom Brewcrafters’ ability to produce their own signature series beers, so don’t be surprised if they pump out a lot more top-quality craft brew on par with their Krysztoff, Borislav and MacBubba.

Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at beercraft.wordpress.com. Find him on Twitter @beercraft. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to beercraft@rochester.rr.com.

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Custom Brewcrafters is going big.

It seems that Custom Brewcrafters just can’t make enough beer. Well, more accurately, they don’t have the tank space to store the beer during fermentation. Most of this is because their primary customer, 3 Heads Brewing, is expanding all over the Northeast.

Sow what’s a small-town brewery to do? Oh yeah, drop in two new 60-barrel fermenters and a 60 barrel brite tank. It’s a huge investment, but that’s part of doing business in an industry that’s experienced double-digit growth for the past ten years.

The new tanks go in this coming Monday, and will be filled a week later. Congratulations to Custom Brewcrafters and 3 Heads. The future looks bright.