Summertime Beers?
June 10, 2008 2:03 PM   Subscribe

What kind of beer should we serve at our party tomorrow?

We're having a dinner party tomorrow night and are serving tacos (fish and chicken) and spring rolls (I've successfully duplicated the ones from the steelhead diner, much to my delight). I'm looking for some sort of lightish summery beer to serve but I don't really know anything about this kind of stuff. Corona comes to mind but it's not my favorite -- any other recommendations?

I'm not opposed to buying 2 or 3 six packs, and I have access to a regular Trader Joe's, if that helps.
posted by rossination to Food & Drink (39 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Hefeweizens are light, citrus tasting beers that should go well with fish or chicken.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 2:12 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

A heffewizen might be good - they're light, a little lemony - trader joe's carries a lot of them, including a store brand version.
posted by moxiedoll at 2:12 PM on June 10, 2008

Mexican and Asian menu, huh? That makes beer choosing tough! Some light-ish beers that spring to mind are Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Bohemia. While not super light, Anchor Steam is another favored summer beer of mine.
posted by moitz at 2:14 PM on June 10, 2008

posted by electroboy at 2:17 PM on June 10, 2008

Pyramid Apricot Ale or Apricot Weizen may be a nice match.
posted by cog_nate at 2:19 PM on June 10, 2008

Or a wit beer of some kind (not overly familiar w/breweries in Seattle).
posted by cog_nate at 2:21 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Anchor Steam (Seconding)
Sam Adams Summer Ale
Some kind of Meibach
posted by piedmont at 2:22 PM on June 10, 2008

Hefeweizen, Widmar or Weinstaffen.
posted by BobbyDigital at 2:23 PM on June 10, 2008

If you are in the midwest, I would vote for Boulevard Wheat, with lemons. Other faves include Lienenkugel's Sunset Wheat or Blue Moon, both served with oranges. Blue Moon is more nationwide I think, and Leinie's is more midwest in terms of distribution. I also like Mothership Wit (another wheat beer!) from New Belgium brewery, it is distributed as far east as Iowa but I'm not sure how far west. It has spices so I don't really drink it with any fruit. Leinie's also has this "Summer Shandy" but it tastes too fake lemony for me. Anyways, I love a wheat beer, especially in the summer.
posted by sararah at 2:27 PM on June 10, 2008

I love wheat beers, but I find that a lot of our guests don't. I'd definitely also make available some light, flavorful Mexican-style beers. We favor Presidente, which offers a striking appearance, if nothing else. Otherwise, seconding Bohemia.
posted by dreamphone at 2:31 PM on June 10, 2008

60% lager, 40% lemonade = Radler
posted by imposster at 2:31 PM on June 10, 2008

I'd expect a hefeweizen, wit or comparable wheat beer to disappear next to your spices. I think you need either something hoppy enough to compete, or something malty enough to balance--moitz's recommendations are excellent: an American pale ale such as the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or a Mexican dortmunder-style lager such as Bohemia.

If you want to splurge, though, the Hennepin saison from Brewery Ommegang would probably blow minds. It's spicy, creamy, light and strong. In my opinion, it combines the best qualities of all the beers that have been mentioned above...
posted by tsmo at 2:31 PM on June 10, 2008

Magic Hat's Circus Boy is a delightfully crisp and sweet beer. Also a heffewizen (though the American version which is a pale wheat beer).
posted by self at 2:32 PM on June 10, 2008

Try Magic Hat's Circus boy is a great summer ale. However on preview you're in Seattle and Magic Hat isn't available in the wild west according to their website so ummm using my google fu I turned up this.

Also recommends light lagers. For true mexican beers the recommend Negro Modelo or Bohemia is the forum.
posted by Sgt.Grumbless at 2:36 PM on June 10, 2008

Maybe try a cider, too. Like Woodchuck pear cider; or Strongbow.

Caribbean/Central American beers are good for this - Carib, Bohemia, or Caguama.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 2:39 PM on June 10, 2008

Can you get Full Sail's beers up in Seattle? If so, I'd cast my vote for their Session. It's a (rare) micro-brewed lager and just about the perfect summer beer-- delicious, affordable (in the 10-dollar range for a 12-pack) AND aesthetically pleasing, to boot. It appeals to all levels of beer consumer from snob to yob. It's probably my current favorite.
posted by dersins at 2:40 PM on June 10, 2008

ross- you are in seattle. So unfortunately Magic Hat is out of range for us on the east coast, and I miss them dearly.

Some good options, if you want to have a story to tell, drive down to Georgetown Brewery and pickup a growler or two of the Manny's Pale ale (which has a nice citrus finish) or the Roger's Pilsner. You will have to pay for the container, but its around $6-8 a fill for the growler once you buy the container.

Also, Bluemoon is always a good standby, if you want some extra citrus.

Report back with your suggestions.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:50 PM on June 10, 2008

Pacifico beer (possibly with some clamato), with limes. Combined with fish tacos...its the best.

Stay away from american/european brews. PACIFICO is the best with fish tacos. Make sure you get limes and cut them into eighths (lengthwise).

Good luck, wish I could be there.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:51 PM on June 10, 2008

Sam Adams Boston lager.
posted by knowles at 2:53 PM on June 10, 2008

er, report back with your success and which worked out best.

Answering beer questions while at WWDC.

Also, the Elysian has a very good IPA, which I always drink as my summer beers (IPAs, on the lighter sides, not the heavier ones) Their Jasmin IPA in particular.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:54 PM on June 10, 2008

If you can get your hands on it, Redhook's Sunrye is a nice refreshing summer beer. Also good with a lemon, but a little more body than some of the other classic summer beers.
posted by dseaton at 2:56 PM on June 10, 2008

Just a note that witbier is traditionally wheat + barley and sometimes oats. Weizen are what's usually thought of when we say wheat beer. Similar, but not the same.

A good crisp lager would do you well, too.
posted by desuetude at 2:59 PM on June 10, 2008

Pyramid does a kolsch-style pilsner called Curveball for summer. I like it, but other more beer-snobby types don't.
posted by dw at 3:16 PM on June 10, 2008

Ugh, I cringe when I read all the suggestions in this thread. It's the equivalent of someone asking for recommendations for a good band and everyone naming music off the a top 40 list. Just people it's popular, doesn't make it good.

That being said I would totally deviate from the hefeweizen suggestions. It's a typical "summer beer" and absolutely boring. Everyone seems to be drinking a damn wheat beer this time of year. I would suggest to you something in either the style of a Belgian blonde or a Belgian golden ale. They're both on the lighter side of the Belgian scale and perfect for summer. I don't know what beers you can get there but if you can find anything from La Caracole or De Dolle, you'll be amazed. De Dolle's Arabier and La Caracole's Saxo are fantastic. Duvel is a good all around golden ale and is more widely distributed. Stay clear of Delerium Tremens. As far as Belgian blondes go, Val-Dieu, Kasteel, and Affligem makes great ones. I don't know how much you're looking to spend, but Belgians can be a little pricey. German Kolschs also make great summer beers. They're golden in color and slightly tart and dry. I would recommend a Kolsch from either Reissdorf or Gaffel.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:33 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

To learn more about a specific beer, the reviews at ratebeer and beeradvocate can be very handy. For example, here are their entires for Corona Extra.
posted by PueExMachina at 3:34 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Just scrolling down to recommend Sunrye and I see dseaton has already beaten me too it. It is similar to a hefeweizen but made with rye instead of wheat, which gives it a very different dimension to the flavor. It is one of my favorite beers, and one I always look for once summer rolls around.

Someone else mentioned Anchor Steam, but I would go with their Summer Beer if you can find it. Really, really good.

Damn, I think I need to make a stop by BevMo on the way home.
posted by sbrollins at 3:39 PM on June 10, 2008

I cringe when people talk down upon others tastes because they are well known and widely available. Drink what you like, whether it's made by a ginormous brewery or a small craft brewery or some guy down the street.

I never understood Mexican beers until sitting on the beach in Mexico looking for a beer as cold as possible and as refreshing and uncomplicated as drinking water. Pacifico is easier to find around these parts and my second favorite from Mexico. Twist a lime in there and it should be great with the tacos and the spring rolls.

You might also consider some of the Japanese beers like Asahi Extra Dry. LIme might be funny in there.
posted by advicepig at 4:01 PM on June 10, 2008

Dude, you're in Seattle. Go with as much fresh, local beer as you can. What that means is finding some breweries (there are plenty) and asking them about their seasonal beers. You've got Redhook right there, along with Elysian and Pyramid. All should have growlers of local.

As far as the pairing, you've got what should be a light, spicy dish, which means that you're going to want a light, moderately-hopped lager. Heifes won't stand up to the spice, and generally are too sweet to pair well with spicy food, in my estimation. Avoid foreign beers like Asahi (overpriced bullshit) and Corona, because they're likely to be skunked, with one-note flavor palates. You won't want a bock or an amber because they're going to be too dark and malty (they're good with foods that you'd put nutmeg in, generally). ESBs, and Redhook's ESB in particular, can be good matches, though they're a little forceful and more bitter than lager. I'd be wary of IPAs for that reason—the hops can march all over delicate Asian flavors. Though I generally like Belgians, they're also going to be sweeter than what you want here. They're really best with heavier food, where the lightness and sweetness plays against that.

But yes, this thread has been like, "I'd like to make a mixtape that's light and summery" and everyone replying "ZOMG I heard this band called the Beatles!" Call up some local breweries and get their recommendations. They'll know what's fresh and what will work well with your ingredients and spices.
posted by klangklangston at 4:57 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Some of your guests might appreciate a lambic beer. I like 'em straight, but the fruit flavoured ones are quite nice actually. They're sour and beery at the same time, so I imagine they'll go well with taco.

(it's not for everybody, but it's awesome. Check your local Belgian supplier)
posted by monocultured at 5:06 PM on June 10, 2008

I don't know what Trader Joe's sells, but my summer recommendations which would probably be easy for you to find are Honey Moon (made by the Blue Moon people except it's a special summer kind), and any Japanese beer really. Kirin and Asahi especially. Make sure they're very cold. They are light and refreshing and go very well with seafood. The Honey Moon/Blue Moon beers are citrus and honey flavored and don't taste much like beer at all. I'd also second the cider recommendation. Woodpecker is delicious.
posted by wondermouse at 5:09 PM on June 10, 2008

If you can get your hands on Boulevard Wheat, by all means, do so. Now. It is summer, happier times, lawn clippings, and kicking your shoes off to walk through the grass in a bottle.

I'm currently drinking a Shiner Spezial Leicht that is okay. Pretty light and crisp. Also, you might look into the Alaskan Brewing Co. I've only had their Alaskan Amber (which was pretty spectacular), but you could also look into the Alaskan Summer Ale, which my Anchorage-based friends swear by this time of year.
posted by conradjones at 5:13 PM on June 10, 2008

Grolsch makes a Blonde Ale that might do alright, if you are afraid people won't like wheat beers.
posted by recoveringsophist at 5:32 PM on June 10, 2008

Not everyone likes wheat beer (the first handful of recommendations are wheat beers). If you get some make sure it is not exclusive. It is a good choice though for such a shindig. Shiner etc. are not all barley (as far as I know), neither is any Mexican swill with a lime, although there are some awesome real barley Mexican beers, like Dos Equis amber. Get a good all barley beer such as Sam Adams, Dale's Pale Ale etc. A summer ale or something from Sam or another good brewer will be appreciated by those who want something lighter in flavor but without having to drink a beer brewed from rice or corn.
posted by caddis at 5:50 PM on June 10, 2008

Not knowing a ton about beer but being a regular drinker of craft brews, I would say you couldn't go wrong with offering an assortment: regular yellow beer/light lager like Corona/Pacifico or the like, a summer seasonal ale, and either a kolsch or a wheat, depending on what the summer seasonal was. It's true some people find wheats too heavy so alternatives are nice.

I do NOT recommend buying beer at Trader Joe's. I've gotten about a 30% skunk rate on the six packs I've bought there; it happens often enough that I no longer buy beer at TJ's. It looks like Seattle does not have BevMos, so try your local wine/beer/liquor store or gourmet grocery.

I read local beer blogs to keep up on good beers that are available in my neck of the woods -- a google search for "seattle beer blogs" reveals that there are more than a couple that you can look over. Most of the authors love talking beer and would probably be more than happy to recommend a pairing for you along with a location where you could buy it.
posted by fishfucker at 6:30 PM on June 10, 2008

Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I had been considering something like Asahi or Corona but its great to see all these ideas.

I'll go to the store tonight with these tips and report back. Meanwhile, I expect lots more parties this summer, so keep the comments going.
posted by rossination at 6:54 PM on June 10, 2008

Please, for the love of All Things Holy, avoid Corona.
Bohemia is excellent, as is Negro Modelo.
posted by Dizzy at 6:56 PM on June 10, 2008

Sam Adams Summer is my "regular" beer this time of year.
posted by PFL at 3:57 AM on June 11, 2008

If you do spring rolls again, try pairing it with a ginger beer.

I mentioned wit beer above, specifically because it's not overly strong like many other Belgian beers and because it typically has citrusy notes and is regularly spiced with coriander, which would probably pair well with Mexican food.

Also, care to share that spring roll recipe?
posted by cog_nate at 12:32 PM on June 12, 2008

Spring Rolls ala Steelhead Diner

-- about 4 ounces dried rice vermicelli
-- 1/4 - 1/2 green papaya
-- 3-6 carrots
-- about 6 cooked chicken fingers (I bought some from the deli at my local Safeway; you could bread and fry your own but I haven't tried that)
-- 2 T rice vinegar and/or lime juice, plus some extra
-- 1 T soy sauce, plus some extra
-- about 12 rice paper wrappers (I used a brand called "Vietnamese Lady")

Whirred Ginger Vinaigrette
-- 2 T grated or minced ginger
-- 1 cup olive oil
-- 1 T soy sauce, or to taste
-- about 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

Cover the noodles with boiling water; let sit about 15 minutes or until soft. Grate the papaya and carrots; you want about equal parts of each. Toss with a splash of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. Cut the chicken fingers so you have about 12 pieces that are 3 or 4 inches long and about 1/2 inch thick. They do not have to be huge.

Get a big bowl of hot water from the tap, and lay out a clean, non-textured towel to work on. Lay a rice paper wrapper in the hot water for about 5 seconds -- until it just goes limp, and lay it out on your surface. Put a small amount of noodles (maybe a tablespoon or two, but its hard to measure them that way), an equal amount of the papaya/carrot mixture, and a chicken finger. Fold the sides in like you're making a burrito, and roll it up, keeping the filling tight. The wrappers are stronger than you think; you won't hurt them too much. This will take a bit of practice, but you'll get the hang of it quickly. Just remember not to overstuff them.

Eat them as is, or dipped in some soy or peanut sauce, OR make the delicious whirred ginger vinaigrette to go with: in a food processor, combine your ginger (I used a microplane to get mine really finely grated) and oil. Turn the processor on and add the vinegar in a steady stream, process for about 10 seconds and add the soy sauce. Taste and adjust as necessary -- I found that I needed a good bit of soy sauce to bring the flavor of the ginger out.
posted by rossination at 9:39 AM on June 16, 2008 [4 favorites]

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