Session #31: Summer Beers

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As this month marks the end of summer, our last summer Session takes on summer beers, courtesy of Peter Estaniel of the BeerBeerBlog. His take:

With the summer coming to a close, what was your favorite beer of the summer? It doesn’t even have to be from this summer. Is it a lager or maybe a light bodied wheat ale? Maybe you’re drinking anti-seasonally and are having a barleywine or Russian Imperial Stout. Why is this beer your favorite? Is there a particular memory associated with this beer? How about a city? Maybe there was a particular dish that made this beer memorable? Spare no detail.

For me, the most memorable summer drinking I did was in London, where I spent a week with fellow beer writer Stephen Beaumont visiting pubs, attending the Great British Beer Festival and endless (and vainly) searching for late night food. While by no means sweltering heat, London was, as always, more moist than the average California summer. They’d just come off a heatwave during the weeks before we arrived, and welcomed some rain. But it was certainly warm enough, staying in the narrow range of mid-70s to high 80s, even late into the evening.

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We walked around a fair bit of London, taking the tube whenever possible, but also sometimes we just wanted to be above ground, taking in the sights and sounds of the city. To be fair, there was another reason waking was more attractive at times. Besides even the mild summer weather, below ground it could be stiflingly hot, especially when we were sandwiched into the trains during busier times of the day, sweat pouring off of us.

To compensate ourselves, we’d often duck into a pub just for a quick pint, even though we were on our way to another pub, and one which quite possibly was only be fifteen minutes or so away. But thirst must be obeyed, and by god we were often thirsty. And there’s really nothing quite like a English ale on cask, the way nature intended, to quench one’s thirst. Not too cold, which would undoubtedly be a shock to the system, fairly low in alcohol (especially as compared with American beers), which meant we could enjoy more of them, and tasty as all get out. My favorite aspect of cask beer is just how much more flavor can be perceived; more complexity and, perhaps most importantly, more delicate characters. What more could you ask for in a summer beer?

Beaumont at the Dove
Stephen Beaumont at The Dove, a Fuller’s pub along the Thames near Hammersmith where we rested and recharged with a pint.

Even when most of the beers we enjoyed weren’t summer seasonals, but everyday offerings, they were ideally suited to the climate and the warm August weather. And they slaked our thirst almost perfectly.