Monday, December 9, 2013
Every spring, there are a lot of summer beers that pop up. Some are classic favorites and will always have a place in my fridge. But I am also always willing to add another one or two to the lineup for things that can get me through a Maine summer. While it's only spring, and our weather bounces back and forth from summer-like to "wait, I thought this was supposed to be spring, not winter" it's a good time to taste the landscape of beer out there and dream about the upcoming season.
One that I would argue should be on your tasting list is from Lewiston-based Baxter Brewing Company, and it their newly re-named Summer Swelter (formerly Celsius). The label of this beer, available in six pack cans, couldn't be more summery. A wood paneled station wagon is parked at a beach, looking towards the sunlight, ready for a summer adventure.
Described on the label as a "lemon and lime peel, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass added" I was immediately intrigued that they didn't just add a tiny bit of lemon to a regular pale ale, which is unfortunately somewhat of a trend with some other summer seasonals.
It pours a great golden color, and I wasn't able to completely capture it. Hazy, lazy and perfect.
The aroma was full of fresh lime notes - I don't know if that's from the peel or the leaves because I've never smelled lime leaves - but it just smelled so bright and clean.
The taste made this one rocket up the list of beers I'll be keeping in my fridge and bringing to camp this summer. The lime is perfect - not that stale, dull, lime that is shoved into a beer that you don't really want to taste - it is instead a refreshing compliment to the slight hop bitterness and the overall character of the beer. The taste isn't subtle overall, either, and it is one that I found myself saying that I really liked, instead of just getting to the bottom of the glass (or can) and forgetting that I'd had one. It also has a great crisp finish so it will do well as a thirst-quencher, too.
The added benefit to this beer is that it comes in cans, which means it is already ready to be packed up for summer activities around the state. You could bring it to camp, on a boat, to the beach... lots of places where glass can't go. For this reason, I think this is going to become a staple of Maine summers for many Mainers.
My only complaint - and it isn't really a complaint - is the new name. Swelter reminds me of sweating, hot humid days, and I'm not sure I want to think about this beer and immediately be reminded of how hot and humid it can get in town. But it's about what's in the can that matters - and what's in here is great for any temperature.
Carla Companion is a craft beer lover and investigator of all things beer. She started a craft beer website and blog thebeerbabe.com in 2007, sharing her thoughts as she explored what was new in beer, as well as brewery visits, trips and "beer adventures." Moving to Portland in 2009, she found herself surrounded by the Maine beer community and has been exploring it ever since.
In her blog, Carla profiles craft beer (and some mead and cider, too) being brewed in Maine, as well as looks into the people, places and stories behind the beer that makes the community so vibrant. Join Carla on her beer adventures and advice on where to get the best, newest, and most interesting fermented drinks around.
Carla can be contacted at askthebeerbabe [at] gmail.com or on twitter at @beerbabe.