Brooklyn Summer Ale
Review Date 6/27/2007
New York's Brooklyn Brewery is widely
regarded by beer enthusiasts in the know as one of the country's best craft
breweries. They brew a wide array of styles and distribute most of them on a
fairly wide basis, at least as mid-sized craft brewers go. So, when they
release something new, I always get excited.
As I did the other day when I came across Brooklyn Summer Ale. The fact of the matter is, though, that this isn't really a new beer, but a new packaging for Post Road Light Dinner Ale. Brooklyn, of course, now owns the Post Road brand, the most famous of which now is Post Road Pumpkin Ale . There were several other Post Road beers sold in the days before Brooklyn acquired the brand, and I recall many years ago a fruity, balanced pale ale and a bright and hoppy IPA fondly.
In any event, Brooklyn does describe its summer ale as a modern rendition of the "light dinner ales" brewed in England throughout the 1800's right up until the 1940's. They were also called "luncheon ales" or even "family ales" because they were refreshing and flavorful without being too heavy.
A quick Google search does reveal a few references to luncheon ale, and in fact Britain's Arundel brewery makes reference to luncheon ale in the same sentence as family ale, just as Brooklyn does. They do mention these as being beers of low alcohol strength. While Brooklyn summer ale is a bit lower than most at 4.5% alcohol by volume, it is only marginally so. To my taste, Brooklyn Summer Ale is not that much different from your average blonde ale, with maybe a bit more hops.
Brooklyn Summer Ale pours to a pale golden color with a thick rocky head of foam and a very malty, slightly hoppy nose. The palate is light in body and flavor, with a very crisp and clean malt profile. The crisp, biscuity malt flavors derive from the use of British two-row barley malt, and though the beer is similar in color to a light American style lager, don't be fooled. The lack of adjuncts here makes all the difference.
The fresh malt flavors are nicely balanced out by a grassy, minty, and slightly herbal hop aroma and bitterness in the finish that lingers pleasantly on the tongue after sipping. These work nicely to balance the delightful malt flavors. In short, this is a tasty mild ale that I find highly enjoyable, and it's well suited to hot summer weather. Brooklyn calls it a dinner ale, and I'd say that's fair enough: it would go well enough with a wide variety of fare.
On the down side, the light and delicate nature of the beer means it will probably have a short shelf life, and is best enjoyed as fresh as possible.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.