BY: Michael Lundmark- OWNER, JEKYLL BREWING
You could say that summer is the South’s time to shine- and it’s not because of the sun’s relentless heat! In the craft beer world, several refreshing, light-bodied brew styles such as Blonde/Golden, Kolsch-style, Wheat and even Amber emerge at this time to coincide with these warmer temperatures. As y’all know, the South is no stranger to feasts, friends, and fierce pride. Lucky for us, summer is bookended by patriotic holidays allowing us to reflect and rejoice with all the things we do well as Americans.
Usually the temperatures stay warm between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so we bust out the BBQ tongs and white shoes to mark the season of summer – and that’s also when many of the lighter style beers explode in the market!
There are hundreds of different beer styles overall, with dozens of “summer” styled brews emerging in the summer heat. You can reference all styles by downloading one of many different beer apps to your phone for fast reference. I like to reference the BJCP Styles app, which outlines the official guidelines for every beer style. To help demystify a few of these styles, here are some reference notes describing aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel and local craft examples:
Blonde/Golden Ales: Often have a very light to sweet malty aroma, sometimes with a low to moderate fruitiness aroma. This style can be light yellow to deep gold in color. Flavor should always be light and the finish is medium-dry to somewhat sweet. The mouthfeel should present medium to high carbonation and should always be smooth without harsh bitterness or astringency. Commercial examples in Georgia include Jekyll Brewing’s Southern Session Blonde, Red Brick’s Blonde and Terrapin’s Golden Ale (actually a Cream Ale, but very similar to a Blonde).
Kolsch-Style: Kolsch-Style is a clean, crisp, delicately balanced beer usually with very subtle fruit flavors and aromas. A pleasant, subtle fruit aroma (apple, cherry or pear) from fermentation is acceptable but not always present. The color is always very pale to light gold with a delicate white head that may not persist.
Flavor should present a soft, rounded palate comprising of a delicate flavor balance between soft yet attenuated malt, an almost imperceptible fruity sweetness from fermentation, and a medium-low to medium bitterness with a delicate dryness and slight pucker in the finish (but no harsh aftertaste).
The mouthfeel is always smooth and crisp with medium-light body and medium to medium-high carbonation. Commercial examples in Georgia include Jekyll Brewing’s Big Creek, Eventide’s Kolsch and Terrapin’s Road Warrior.
Wheat: American Wheats typically have low to no aroma, whereas European Wheats will have aroma of banana and/or cloves. Appearance is pale yellow to gold with a thick, long lasting white head.
This style should offer a range of light to moderately strong bready, doughy or grainy wheat flavor, including a low to moderate hop bitterness. These brew’s mouthfeel are medium-light to medium body and are medium-high to high carbonation. Wheat beers sometimes have a soft “fluffy” impression. Commercial Georgia examples include Jailhouse Brewing’s Slammer Wheat, Monday Night Brewing’s Fu Man Brew and Red Hare Brewing’s Wabbit Wheat.
American Amber Ales:
Not to be confused with Amber Lagers, American Amber Ales bring more flavor than their lager cousins. Like an Amber Lager with more body, more caramel richness, and a balance more towards malt. In the aroma, a citrusy hop character is common, but not required. Moderately low to moderately high maltiness balances and sometimes masks the hop presentation, and usually shows a moderate caramel character.
Flavor includes American hop character, well balanced by the malty sweetness caramel flavor. Caramel sweetness and hop flavor/bitterness can linger somewhat into the medium to full finish. Mouthfeel offers medium to medium-full body. Carbonation should be moderate to high with an overall smooth finish. Commercial Georgia examples include Jekyll Brewing’s ‘Merican Amber and Eagle Creek’s Georgia Tea Party.
I sincerely hope you get the opportunity to celebrate your favorite summer tradition and enjoy it with a great Georgia beer! Let us raise a local, craft cold one to each other because, darlin’, we’re all family around here.