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March 1, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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Beers not for the Heliophobic


Wellington occasionally produces a day that resembles summer. But don’t panic! This is simply a series of meteorological coincidences—the wind and cloud always make a swift return.

During such a day, when the temperature soars above 13°C, the usual beer of choice is an ice cold pale lager, sometimes with a dash of lemon. But there is a style of beer that is flavoursome and refreshing enough by itself—no citrus required. It is the Summer Ale.

New Zealand is well suited to brewing summery ales, due to the fruity flavours of Nelson-grown hops. When added in decent quantities, you can have a beer that tastes citrusy without adding lemon/lime syrup—a lesson the large breweries are yet to learn.

A fine example of a Kiwi summer ale is Three Boys Golden Ale (4.5%), from Three Boys brewery in Christchurch. It is light-bodied enough to be refreshing in sweltering 16°C weather, and has a fun and tasty passionfruit flavour thanks to a generous helping of Nelson Sauvin hops. Golden Ale is Three Boys’ summer seasonal beer, and is soon going out of production in favour of their winter stout, so get in quick.

If Three Boys Golden uses more of your hard-earned gold than you’d prefer, then Roosters Brew House in Hastings has you covered with Roosters Summer Ale (5%). This is the first year Roosters has released a summer ale, and the brewery has made an impressive first effort. The beer has a substantial malt body which carries a citrusy hop flavour and bitterness. A nice balancing sweetness makes this a summer ale through and through. Perhaps the best value beer in the country, at around $10 per 1.25L at Regional Wines and Spirits.

If you feel you need more hops in your summer tipple, Renaissance Discovery APA (4.5%) is for you. ‘APA’ stands for ‘American Pale Ale’, a style that emerged from America’s thriving craft beer industry. This style of beer is suited to summer because it tends to be light-bodied and features mainly hops. Discovery sticks to the style using plenty of New Zealand-grown Cascade hops, giving the beer its distinct zesty grapefruit aroma. The zing of the hops carries through to the flavour, with a light body and dry, fruity finish. A cold Discovery on a hot afternoon quenches your thirst, but also delivers a hop sack of flavour.

Because Wellington is awesome, these beers aren’t hard to find. They feature regularly on tap at the beer havens of Hashigo Zake, the Malthouse and Regional Wines and Spirits, and you’ll find Three Boys and Renaissance at any self-respecting New World supermarket.

But remember—these sweltering summer days will not stick around for much longer, so make the most of the glorious 16°C heat and grab yourself a true Summer Ale. Even if you’re afraid of the sun.

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