Summer’s Brewing

Despite their reputation for producing heavy, dense craft beers, several Oregon brewers have a lighter side.

By David Welch May 19, 2009 Published in the July 2007 issue of Portland Monthly

It’s hot. You’re clad in a swimsuit and flip-flops, the sunscreen is packed, and you’ve loaded the trunk with a cooler that’s begging to be filled with as much ice-cold beer as it can hold. But at the nearest mini mart, you’re faced with a difficult decision: Do you spring for a sixer of a typical hop-infested, meal-in-a-glass Oregon microbrew, or snap up a half-rack of Pabst in a can?

Truth be told, many of us would reach for the PBR; after all, two words we don’t generally use to describe Oregon craft beers are "light" and "refreshing." But in fact, plenty of local micros make for perfect for summer sipping. Karl Ockert, brewmaster at Bridgeport Brewing Company–the producer of an excellent seasonal summer debut called Haymaker Extra Pale Ale–asserts that summer-worthy craft beers should, not unlike Pabst, "back off on the malts and the hops, so that they quench your thirst." But unlike some of Milwaukee’s finest, they needn’t sacrifice flavor.

Haymaker and Deschutes’s Twilight Ale fill the hazy-season bill, and they’re sold exclusively during the summer months. However, many local breweries offer light, crisp ales year-round that are just as appropriate for that beach trip you’re about to embark on–whether it’s a sky-blue weekend in July or a fluky warm day in October. Here are three of our favorite year-round summer-worthy ales.

Rogue Ales, American Amber

With hints of coffee on the nose, this tawny-tinted amber perfectly straddles the line between craft brew and summer sipper, with a rich, hoppy finish that doesn’t hold back its crispness. ($8.49 for a six-pack of 12 oz bottles; $10.99 for a 64 oz growler from the brewpub.)

Full Sail Brewing, Session Premium Lager

The classic all-malt pilsner inside these stubby bottles is refreshing and bright with just a hint of sweetness on the finish.($11.99 for a 12-pack of 11 oz bottles.)

Alameda Brewhouse, Siskiyou Golden Ale

Modeled after a traditional German kölsch, this straw-colored ale has a soft, almost creamy mouth feel. Snappy but without the sharpness of a pilsner, this beer is only available at the brewhouse, but they offer growlers to go. ($3.75 for a pint; $13 for a 64 oz growler.)

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