So, anyone who reads this column regularly (so, like, the three of us) knows that I’ve taken a few months off of writing about beer. What happened? Did I suddenly swear off the stuff? Did I switch to boxed wine and Limeritas? Did I start crushing oil cans of Bud Light and pumping my fist at shore bars, pounding the occasional Jägerbomb just to make it to the after party? No.
The sad truth is that I just didn’t see much that was both good and new. So much of what the craft breweries were pushing this summer was Gose-related. For those who don’t know, Gose was a regional specialty from a town, Goslar, that sits pretty much smack in the middle of northern Germany. It’s weak, thin, and pushes flavors of sour lemon and salt (no, for real, salt. The local water source near Goslar is, apparently, a tad salty, but other localities add salt to the recipe). These things have become all the rage, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. They manage to be both bland AND gross at the same time.
So, I stuck with my tried-and-trues: Modelo Especiale, Einstök Icelandic White, Summer Ales from Sam Adams, Brooklyn, Victory and the like. But even in a summer full of Gose-ness, there are still a couple little gems that I found this year.
Jersey Cider Works makes my absolute favorite hard cider, Ironbound. It’s fucking amazing. This year, they made a Summer seasonal cider, and it’s wonderful. The regular one comes in silver cans, the summer one in blue cans. The seasonal is made with black tea and lemon juice, and it is really unique and refreshing. I’ve actually changed where I buy my beer just so I can get this cider (my favorite store for beer doesn’t carry Ironbound, so now I have to go to the second-tier beer store just to get the good cider). I found it locally at a decent, but not great, bar, and now I’m a regular there. I drank a TON of this stuff this summer, and now I’m shifting back to the standard silver can and remembering how awesome THAT is. Go support a good New Jersey business and a really well-run ciderworks. You won’t be disappointed.
From a tiny little cider start-up, let’s jump to a venerable member of the craft beer community: Dogfish Head. Specifically, Lupu-Luau IPA. The DFH website gives these really narrative stories to describe their beers, and I’m never sure how much I believe those stories. But, they describe this beer a “hazy, overly pale” and jammed with as much coconut as possible. I don’t know about all that, since I’ve had Oskar Blues’s Death by Coconut, but there is certainly a strong coconut flavor to this IPA. I found this late in the summer, and I was disappointed with myself. It’s not my favorite summer beer, but it’s a solid IPA with a refreshing, summery twist. Assuming the weather gets warm again, see if you can still find some before Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Everything takes over your liquor store.
And that’s really it this summer. I had my old favorites, which I’ve written about before. I drank a lot of session beer, like Michelob or All-Day IPA. And I avoided Gose at all cost.
Now, let’s break out the Bavarian flags and get our Oktober on.