Although I have been drinking a lot of craft pilsners during these warm summer days, I also love light-bodied hoppy beers when it’s hot and humid. In particular, the bright and fruity flavors of American style hops are a perfect complement to a summer BBQ. A couple summer beers I tried recently fit this description. They are light and drinkable, but feature big bursts of disntictly new world hops. The first is Simmer Down, the summer seasonal from Sebago Brewing Company in Gorham, ME. The second is Island Day, the new summer beer from Slumbrew (Somerville Brewing Company) in Somerville, MA. Neither beer specifies a style (not that it matters), they are both on the borderline between an American pale ale and IPA. Regardless of style designation, both beers are a celebration of American hops and brewed to be enjoyed during the few short months of warm weather we get in New England.
Sebago Brewing Simmer Down is a summer session ale brewed with El Dorado, Mosaic and Ahtanum hops. Simmer Down pours a copper-orange, slightly hazy with a very mild white head. The smell is lightly hoppy, some fruity scents but not overpowering. The hops come through a little stronger in the flavor, with touches of orange, mango, lemon and passion fruit. The bitterness is pretty mild and nicely complemented by some malty grain flavors. Simmer Down is very light and crushable, at 4.9% ABV it can be classified as a session beer by some definitions. The finish is clean with just a hint of bitterness lingering on the tongue. Sebago Simmer Down is a great beer for summer. The mild hoppiness and low alcohol make you think of outdoor parties on a hot summer day. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5
Slumbrew Island Day is a golden ale brewed with Ella, Pacific Jade and Calypso hops. Island Day pours a cloudy pale orange with a small white head. The smell is all American hops, big bursts of citrus and tropical fruit. The hops dominate the flavor profile too, notes of pineapple, guava, lime and orange. The hop flavor is accompanied by a nice mild bitterness, you get some bite but it isn’t mouth-numbing. There is a little malt for balance, but this is clearly a beer brewed to showcase these varieties of hops. Island Day goes down smooth so I was a little surprised that it had 6.5% ABV. The finish is hop-forward with a pleasant bitter tingle on the tongue. This immediately became one of my favorite Slumbrew releases. A great hoppy beer for a warm summer evening. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5
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