The national-brand summer beers I tasted for this column posed a bit of a problem. First, it was difficult to find an interesting variety, and when I did find them, all but one had a connection to Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser.

Five of the six beers were wheat beers, and one wasn’t, so it was a little hard to critique those. And three of the six had fruit or spice adjuncts, and three didn’t.

So, one week into writing this column, I have learned a lesson: Don’t promise a column on a certain kind of beer unless I have the beer on hand.

Anyway, the beers tasted were Honey Moon, a summer beer made by Blue Moon, a subsidiary of Molson-Coors; Rope Swing, made by Redhook (partly owned by Anheuser-Busch); and four wheat beers made by Michelob, an Anheuser-Busch brand. Those four were Ginger Wheat, Shock Top, Dunkel Weiss and Hop Hound.

We had three tasters — myself, one person who doesn’t like beer who took one for the team, and one who is expecting and who could only sniff, taste and spit it out, just like it was a high-end wine tasting.

The favorite beer of all three of us was the Dunkel Weisse. I am a huge fan of dark wheat beers from Europe, and whenever I go to Bukowski’s in Boston before a Red Sox game, I always have at least one. This does not stand up to the Europeans, but it is mild and fairly tasty.

I also like the Hop Hound, which, despite the name, was not all that hoppy. It was smooth, and had a good flavor.

My co-tasters, Christian Ratliff and Christopher DiSotto, put Shock Top as their second favorite. This has orange, lime and other spices in it.

The Honey Moon beer has an excellent first taste. You can both smell and taste the honey, which is the adjunct ingredient to this wheat beer. But after the fourth sip, it is cloying and too sweet.

To the beer drinkers, the Ginger Wheat tasted like ginger ale. We found almost no flavor of beer in the beer, and we just didn’t like it. So we got my daughter, Tandy, who doesn’t like beer but does like ginger ale, to give it a taste. She said it tasted like beer.

Finally, the Rope Swing. I liked it. It isn’t my favorite lager, but it is drinkable in a summer-day kind of way. Christian and Chris thought it was too sweet for a pilsner.

Magic Hat, a Vermont-based brewery, has a Summer Scene 12-pack that includes Blind Faith, an IPA; Odd Notion, another ginger beer; and Whacko, a beet juice-colored beer. I tasted these about six weeks ago and wanted to put them head-to-head with the others.

The Whacko didn’t come in our tasting pack. I liked Blind Faith, but thought it was a bit strong for a summer beer. I did not like Odd Notion, but our daughter-in-law from Massachusetts was visiting, and she liked it a lot.

But she is partial to anything with ginger in it.


Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at:

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