There is no way to bottle summer. In fact, 12 ounces of San Antonio summer would be a warm, sticky concoction, spiced faintly with mosquitoes, and with a tendency to either dry up quickly or unpredictably spill over the top onto your shoes.
Perhaps the more satisfying goal is to find a bottle of something that goes with summer. Is there any doubt that we’re talking beer here?
First stop is the land of the lagers. German- and Czech-style bright lagers tend to dominate summer drinking and for obvious reasons: They are light in body, light in color, taste good at colder temperatures and the best have a sprightly hop character that whet the appetite.
This is a crowded field so there are plenty to choose from, but a few of my personal favorites include the new Shiner 101 Czech-style pilsner from just up the road, Victory Prima Pils from Pennsylvania, Northcoast Brewing Co’s Scrimshaw Pils, and the “original” lagers from German breweries Schneider Weiss, Paulaner, Spaten Weihenstephaner, and Hofbrau Haus.
If you want to get hyperlocal, consider picking up a pint, growler (half-gallon jug), party pig, or keg of the pilsner from Blue Star Brewing Co. in King William.
Another traditional summer quaff is the hefeweizen style of beer, a German original that has been embraced by the American craft-beer scene. The German hefes and a Belgian version of wheat beers called wit beers are popular options at Texas breweries. Look for the Rye Wit at Freetail, the Wheathead at Blue Star later this summer, Live Oak Brewing Co’s nationally recognized hefeweizen, and the Freestyle Wheat from Independence Brewing Co.
Golden ales in many ways mimic lagers, but the yeast is different and can give more fruity flavors than you get from a cold-aged lager. Good examples include San Antonio’s own Alamo Golden Ale, Real Ale Brewing Co’s Fireman’s #4, and Freetail’s La Rubia.
An unexpected twist to summer refreshment is sour beer. It seems counterintuitive, but ales that are intentionally sour through the magic of bacteria have an extraordinary thirst-quenching quality. In bottles look for Duchesse de Bourgogne from Belgium’s Brouwerij Verhaeghe and New Belgium Brewing Co.’s La Folie from Colorado.
If you’re brewpub-hopping, seek out Solera from Freetail and the Sour Golden at Blue Star.
Flying Saucer 15th
When the Dallas-based Flying Saucer Draught Emporium decided to brew a special beer for the company’s 15th anniversary, they turned to Derek Zuckerman, the head chef at their San Antonio location.
Zuckerman’s new style, a red wheat beer with 6.8-percent alcohol a little fruitiness balanced by hops, and a celebration of English malts, has been pouring quickly at the chain’s locations around Texas and other states. Zuckerman flew to Denver to brew the special beer at Breckenridge Brewing Co.
“I’ve brewed more than 500 brews at home over 18 years, and I thought I should come up with my own style,” Zuckerman said. He will be providing the recipes for an end-of-summer ale and a Christmas ale to be made at Breckenridge exclusively for the Flying Saucer. •