Wheat Beers

To me, summer time drinking beers are wheat beers.  Nothing like a cool, slightly sweet, easy-drinking beer on a hot summer day!  Traditionally having a lower alcohol content is a plus as you can drink a few more than usual at the next BBQ!  I am still amazed at the diversity of the wheat beer…and I’ve brewed a lot of them.

One of my favorite wheat beers is Allagash White.  This beer from Portland, Maine is a year-round go to for me. Very easy drinking with a full wheat flavor and sweet body. Pyramid Hefeweizen is scarce on the east coast but worth the search. In my opinion, Brooklyn Brewery could do better though it is still an enjoyable brew.


Clones are a good way to compare your finished brew to the “actual” beer.  Most breweries are fairly open about what goes into their beer…it’s the exclusive yeast strains and hops blends along with the specific process used that distinguishes their product.  I also like clones because it is easier to start tweaking a recipe for a desired and measurable result, such as altering the body, color or flavor slightly.

While I enjoy coming up with my own recipes, I still do the occasional clone, especially when it’s the first time I am brewing a new style of beer.  This is a nice skill as a lot of wedding/birthday presents amongst my friends involve custom brews for them…I can always make them their favorite beer!

My first stout

I try to brew beers from every category, even if it is not a favorite of mine.  I do like a good stout but it is a beer I have to be in the mood for.  So I decided to come up with a recipe for a flavorful yet easy drinking stout.  I came up with a good balance of base malts and roasted barley that I thinned a bit with some honey.  The result was a stout loved by all who tried it.  This stout recipe still stands as one of my best so far and is always a solid go-to as winter approaches.

One of my firsts….

Early on I used kits I would order online.  After a number of these kits, following the process exactly and figuring out the nuances, I decided to experiment a little.  I made a Berlin Wheat beer but wanted to tweak it a bit with my own tastes so I added honey and 7 pounds of peaches I had pasteurized and frozen myself.  I let it age a little longer than normal and it turned out really good…so good it was gone in a week or so!

Summer Beers

I absolutely love this time of year…because I get to start making a lot of summer brews!  I am a fan of the wheat style and am still amazed at the diversity of this particular type of beer.  Easy drinking and slightly lower in alcohol content, there is nothing better on a warm summer day (or any day).  This style takes fruit flavoring well and varies remarkably from brewery to brewery.

Honestly, this is also definitely a style that most people like….non-beer drinkers, occasional drinkers and women…yes, I said it.  Women, in my experience, really like wheat beers.  I will end up brewing three out of five times a month, a delicious and refreshing wheat beer.

No matter what your tastes are, the time is coming to think about lighter and crisper beers.  Harpoon and Blue Point summer seasonals have not missed in years.  Sixpoint makes a very solid summer brew as does Red Hook.  I have brewed clones of Pyramid and Allagash but tend to tweak every recipe to make it my own.

Spring into a spring ale!

It seems to have been a short winter here in NYC but that just means we get to start our spring ales sooner!  As we shed our warm winter coats along with our warming winter beers, we get to enjoy lighter and crisper ales…outside beers, I like to call them.  With a month minimum from brewing to drinking, now is the time to get started on the IPAs, copper ales and, my favorite, the ESBs.  A few good friends on a rooftop on a nice sunny spring day with some fresh home brewed goodness….sounds like a thin slice of heaven to me!

Autumn Is Upon Us With Full Flavor

As the color of the leaves change, so does the color of our beer.  Autumn brings on darker and more flavorful beers.  Tis the season for pumpkin ales, autumn browns, harvest ales and brews made with spices and other fun ingredients!!

These beers tend to be maltier and richer than their summer cousins.  Full of flavor, I call these “jeans and sweatshirts beers”…perfect for that last BBQ or gathering before the winter closes in on us.  Too often these beers are squished between the oktoberfests and pumpkin beers and the winter ales and xmas offerings, but some of them are definitely worth the search.  Sierra Nevada’s Tumbler is a solid autumn beer that is fairly widespread and easy to find.  Check your local breweries for their autumn offerings and enjoy!!

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Changing of the Seasonals

September 19, 2011

Here we are at the changing of the seasonals and the emergence of spicy, flavorful pumpkin ales and dark, malty oktoberfests!  I take it as a personal challenge to try every brewery’s seasonal offerings…and here are my opinions so far this year.

Top of my list of seasonal yummy-ness is Blue Point Brewery in Long Island, NY.  They have a really good feel for seasonal beers and their pumpkin ale and oktoberfest are no exception.  The pumpkin ale has a perfect balance of spices, pumpkin flavor and malt.  Full-flavored and easy drinking, this is easily my personal favorite….so far.  The oktoberfest has a nice rich malt flavor but goes down easy and smooth without a viscous feel and lingering after-taste present in some oktoberfests. 

There are plenty of solid offerings out there as well.  Post Road Pumpkin by Brooklyn Brewery is always a solid beer though I think their Oktoberfest is a bit sub-par this year.  Harpoon’s Pumpkin UFO is a little lighter and sweeter than some but a very delicious unfiltered flavored wheat beer.  Magic Hat’s Hex and Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest are definitely worth trying as well.

Whatever your preference is the important thing is to enjoy both the changing of the seasons and the accompanying beer offerings with good friends and family.