Sunday, December 10, 2023

Craft beverage makers’ guide to summer drinking in the Historic Triangle

Summer is for kicking back and local craft brewers have you in mind. “You want to have beer on a Saturday afternoon sitting by the pool or whatever it may be,” said Jonathan Newman, brewmaster at Virginia Beer Co. (Photo courtesy Virginia Beer Co.)

Game on, day drinkers. Memorial Day weekend is just the beginning.

Summer’s here for real and the Historic Triangle’s craft brewers know your strategy: Swimming pools. Beach umbrellas. A table outside, please.

It’s time for a tall, pale cold one.

Think citrus wedges and fresh strawberries. Summer in Germany. Beer you can sip all afternoon.

So — rock the sunglasses. Throw on some shorts. And pace yourself.

Pumpkin ale won’t be around until August.

Until then, here’s how to stay chill.

For Day Drinkers

Saving Daylight is a good place to start, according to Jonathan Newman, brewmaster at Virginia Beer Co., 401 Second St. It’s a year-round American wheat ale with orange peel, grapefruit peel and an alcohol content of 4.9 percent.

“To me, that is the quintessential summer beer,” Newman said. “It’s light. It’s crisp. It’s refreshing.”

If you want to kick back with a European vibe, Virginia Beer Co. has a Belgian-style Saison Tournante, according to Newman.

summer brew
Berliner Weisse is a summer seasonal from Alewerks Brewing Co., a tart white beer according to Brewmaster Geoff Logan. (Photo Courtesy Alewerks Facebook)

Also, Alewerks Brewing Co., 197B Ewell Rd., has a seasonal Berliner Weisse available through July. It’s a tart white beer with 4-percent alcohol, according to Geoff Logan, the brewmaster and managing director.

“That’s a real fun one,” he said.

Another option is Split Shot from Brass Cannon Brewing Co., 5476 Mooretown Rd. It’s a light-colored, clean, slightly spicy American wheat ale, made with malted rye and malted wheat — but no barley, according to the brewery’s website.

“A fantastic brew for hot summer days,” the website says.

For Bruce Hornsby Fans

Speaking of fun in the sun, Alewerks will launch Noisemaker Pale Ale in time for June’s Funhouse Fest. It’s a first-time brew with 5-percent alcohol will be named for Bruce Hornsby’s band, the Noisemakers, according to Logan.

For Local Buzz

lemon drop beer
Lemon, local honey and a collaboration with Richmond’s Stone Brewing Co. make Citra Hop Honey Drop a key seasonal offering from Virginia Beer Co., according to Newman. (Photo courtesy Virginia Beer Co.)

If summer has you upping your beverage game with local strawberries or fresh lemon and honey, you’re not alone. Those flavors are big in seasonal beer, too.

Take Virginia Beer Co.’s Citra Hop Honey Drop, made in collaboration with Richmond’s Stone Brewing Co. It’s very citrusy, according to Newman, with a lemon aroma and honey from Silver Hand Meadery, 224 Monticello Ave.

Speaking of Silver Hand, in mid-June the meadery will be launching its new Strawberry Swing, according to Glenn Lavender, the owner. Made with local strawberries and Silver Hand’s alfalfa honey, it’s a fermented beverage named after a Coldplay song.

“So it’s all local, fresh off the farms and into our tanks,” Lavender said in a recent phone interview.

Glenn Lavender, owner of Silver Hand Meadery, used local fruit for a new strawberry mead. For summer, he also likes his 2016 orange-blossom mead, Soak up the Sun, which got its name from a Cheryl Crow song. (Courtesy Silver Hand Meadery)

For the Adventurous

If you’re all about new experiences, local craft brewers have your back.

Virginia Beer. Co., for example, is slated to unveil Stayman Brett Saison, a collaboration with Richmond’s Blue Bee Cider. It’s made with Stayman apple juice, according to Newman, and it’ll be available in early June.

“It’s tasting great out of the tank now,” he said.

And come mid-July, Alewerks will have Lover’s Greed, a barrel-aged, limited-distribution release. It’s light amber, tart and complex, with tropical notes and barnyard characteristics, Logan said.

All About the Flavor

So what’s the takeaway? Summer brew is a big canvass.

“To me, good summer beers are light,” said Newman. “Not necessarily light in flavor.”

Joan Quigley
Joan Quigley
Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post,, and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.

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