On Wednesday, July 13, Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery hosted their monthly “Summer Beer Talk Series,” in which brewmaster Les Locke presents the brewpub’s newest offerings. As a treat, the July tasting also featured an appearance by Travis E. Poling, co-author of “San Antonio Beer: Alamo City History by the Pint” and historian of the San Antonio beer scene.
For $20, patrons were given a custom Southerleigh glass, unlimited refills of the three beers, an explanation of each drink and a plate of Texas-style guajillo-roasted whole pig with sausage, Southerleigh’s magnificent jalapeño cornbread, and red beans and rice.
The three beers, the Don’t Dress Me Mexican lager, Cucumber Gose (goes-ah), and Prince Oberyn’s Head, are all brewed for summer drinking, though they’re far from similar. In addition to refreshing your heat-wilted palate, each beer offers its own lesson in summer drinking
Beer: Don’t Dress Me Mexican Lager
Taste: As a session beer, the Mexico-by-way-of-Viennese beer is designed to have a lower alcohol content, while still offering a crisp, bracing acidity. The idea is that you’ll want to have several to stave off the heat, but their low ABV allows you to do so functionally. The end result is softly amber, hued with notes of lightly flaxen wheat, similar to a fuller-bodied Victoria cerveza.
What You Can Learn: With beer, flavor and body often go hand-in-hand. During the summer though, you want a beer you can drink all afternoon without gorging yourself or getting hammered. Look for lagers whose origins are equatorial — Mexico, Italy, Thailand — as crispness in their beers is a prerequisite, meaning a higher likelihood of finding a refreshing, yet flavorful draught.
Beer: Cucumber Gose
Taste: Gose, a beer traditionally from Leipzig, Germany, is sour, salty and dry. Unappealing as those adjectives may sound, the gose was the standout beer of the bunch. Combined with pureed cucumber, Sorachi hops and a hint of tamarind, the gose combined traditional components of a Continental gose with the puro flair of a raspa.
What You Can Learn: If acidity makes summer heat bearable, sourness makes it a delight. Think of summer heat as an ingredient — a strong, overbearing one. To balance against it, you need an equally strong flavor, and while acidity does an admirable job equalizing the scales, the salinity and lip-puckering funk of a gose are the perfect fit for South Texas. Throw in some San Antonio flair, like Tajin or limón, and you have the perfect summer beer.
Beer: Prince Oberyn’s Head
Taste: Spoiler alert — this beer tastes nothing like Prince Oberyn’s smashed head. Made with Simcoe hops, the West Coast IPA is a single malt, single hop beer that packs an astringent, floral taste.
What You Can Learn: Designed to withstand the journey from England to India, it’s no surprise that IPAs fair well in hot climes. All the same, when combined with the grueling summer heat, a robust IPA can wear a drinker down. As a result, hoppy, green-oak beers are best left to summer evenings, when the sun has softened. When that time comes, look for a drink like the “Simcoe Smash,” a lesson in bitterness balanced by tang, in this case passion fruit.