When I think Summer, I think Iceland. Well, I do now.
This Summer, and every Summer, I am on a constant quest for interesting beers that are right for the hot weather. I try all the seasonal I can. I drink Mexican beer with lime. I try radlers, shandies, citrus beers, anything anyone tells me is a “Summer beer.” This year, a friend brought me Einstök’s Icelandic White Ale. This is not a seasonal. However, it feels like a summer beer. It’s light, highly carbonated, sweet and fruity. Yet, it doesn’t feel like a fruit beer (often the kiss of death). It’s simply refreshing and flavorful, which is somehow a difficult balance to strike.
Einstök calls this a Belgian witbier, and it certainly is that. It has that pale golden color a good witbier has with small bubbles that give it a real effervescent mouth feel. There’s a gentle maltiness and a very subtle hop note covered with orange and coriander. The flavor is quite nice. But this beer sets itself apart at the end. It finishes impossibly clean. That finish makes it perfect for the heat of a summer day.
The Einstök Brewery is in Iceland’s fourth largest town, Akureyri, which has about 17,700 people. That makes it roughly the same size as Dumont, NJ (not exactly a booming metropolis). However, what they do have is some of the purest water in the world (if their promotional materials are to be believed). Whatever they’re doing, the beer tastes clean and fresh.
The Icelandic White Ale is a perfect neighborhood barbecue beer. It’s interesting without being heavy. You and your friends can drink it all day standing in the sun playing Top Toss, or cornhole, or whiffle ball, or whatever barbecue lawn shenanigans you prefer. Also, it’s from Iceland, which lends it an air of cool. Let’s not deny it. Stuff from Iceland just seems cooler than local stuff. From experience, the Icelandic White Ale pairs pretty well with grilled steak and shrimp, and I would imagine it would be nice with almost anything you would usually grill up for your friends in your back yard.
On the down side, it ain’t cheap. It was $11.99 for a six at my local shop. Additionally, both Beer Advocate and Ratebeer give this beer rather mediocre ratings. I confess myself confused by this. Perhaps if I were drinking this beer in the dead of winter or during an Oktoberfest party, my opinion might be different. But, headed to the beach and with the heat of August grilling before me, Einstök’s Icelandic White Ale is the summer beer I’ve been looking for.