Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer for students and parents, teachers, many vacationers and vacation spots, and, sadly, summer beers. The onslaught of “Octoberfests” and pumpkin ales that mark autumn brewing has already begun, so let’s hold off and enjoy one final weekend of lighter summer brews before the colors of our beers start to match the turning leaves.
We’ll start our celebration of the labors of brewers with a local brewer that I don’t get to mention enough: Cambridge Brewing Company’s Remain in Light, which is a 4% session pilsner that’s available outside the brewpub in 12-ounce cans. This is the kind of beer I wish America’s megabreweries had standardized on instead of their watered-down lagers — flavorful but easy drinking, with great grain tastes and a welcome, but subtle, hop crispness. This brew is definitely worth picking up if you see it.
Another terrific local offering is Berkley Beer’s Farmhouse Ale, a crisp summer saison that belongs in everyone’s beer fridge. Available in 22-ounce bombers, this easy-drinking, but flavorful brew shows subtle peppery notes and expected saison esters. At 5% ABV, this packs a bit more punch than Remain in Light and has a bit more flavor, but still goes down really easily.
I’ve been remiss in my duties of late and haven’t written about the excellent Two Roads Brewing from Stratford, Connecticut. I’ve really enjoyed every beer I’ve managed to try by them, and their Road 2 Ruin Double IPA is truly a thing of beauty that should be sought out by any hophead in the Northeast. But today, let’s learn about their Road Jam Raspberry Wheat. I’m not normally a big fan of wheat beers, or fruit beers, but this brew hits the mark. Two Roads uses real raspberries instead of syrup, then adds a contrasting lemongrass flavor that balances the brew. It pours a beautiful pale beet red and packs a fantastic hint of sharp sourness. This beer defies expectations and is truly one of summer’s treats.
Of course, you could chose to celebrate this American holiday with American Darling, by Pretty Things. This American pale lager is the strongest beer in the batch, at 5.8%, but that’s rather tame for Pretty Things. As should be expected from this brewer, this isn’t your typical American lager. Pale, yes, but loaded with hoppy, grainy flavors of spice, citrus, and grassy earth tones. It’s an impressive brew.
Finally, I have to back off the beer obsession (yes, it can be done) to mention the top-notch Angry Orchard Hard Cider Variety Pack. A delicious 12-pack with their Crisp Apple, Apple Ginger, Green Apple, and fascinating Elderflower ciders, this is a great way to preview apple season. All four ciders are excellent and refreshing, and well worth seeking out.
Originally published August 28, 2014