Sparge: /spärj/ verb. A brewing technique that extracts the sugar from the grains by exposing the grains to water.
by Jerry Carter
Summertime is officially upon us and as temperatures begin to rise, it’s time to find that perfect beer to cool your palate. The picture plastered on the bottle of Smuttynose IPA may feature two old men hunkered down in lawn chairs on a perfect summer day, but IPAs might not be the right beer for this season.
Scott Kerner of Three Penny Taproom said, “If you are outside, stay away from hoppier and darker beers this time of year. Darker beers just because there is too much sweetness that comes out once a beer warms up, and you get all of the specialty malt sweetness and sometimes adjuncts like coffee and chocolate. And sometimes hoppy beers dehydrate you.”
So instead of reaching for your favorite IPA after a long day of yard work, expand your palate with some other styles of beer. Kevin Kerner, also of Three Penny Taproom, suggested trying some of the different Pilsners that are on the market. A great local option is the Lost Nation Vermont Pilsner. This refreshing low-alcohol beer offers a crisp, slightly hoppier finish than a traditional Pilsner. If you have a craving for the traditional, grab a Pilsner Urquell, which conveniently comes in a six-pack and can be found at most liquor stores. Kevin warns drinkers to keep these beers out of the sun, because their green glass bottles leave the beer susceptible to skunking. So if you are going to the trouble of trekking these down to the lake or to your favorite water hole, make sure to stash them deep in the cooler.
Another great option for the summer season is Allagash White. Made in Maine, this lower-alcohol beer is great for sipping on the beach. Forget the fruit platter—this beer is made with orange peels and coriander and offers a sweet, crisp, dry finish.
And if you are just not ready to put down the IPA, Scott suggests trying Otter Creek Fresh Slice. Fresh Slice is a low-alcohol citrusy IPA that takes a page from Allagash and features coriander, orange slice and a little bit of clementine juice to sweeten the deal. Like the other beers above, it is highly drinkable and refreshing, a perfect combo for your next après-lawn-mowing session.
If you are lucky enough to get off the homestead and into the great outdoors, try grabbing a few cans and soaking them in a cool stream. “I just love beer out of a river. It just tastes better,” said Kevin. Whether it’s the natural cooling or the sensation of being closer with nature, any of the above beers taste great plucked fresh out of a cold Vermont waterway.