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City Breweries Offer Seasonal Beers to Quench Summer Thirsts

By Eddie Small | June 24, 2014 6:44am
 A sampling of some of the best local summer beers in New York City.
New York City Summer Beers
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NEW YORK — A cool summer beer tastes great on a balmy night — and supporting local brewers makes supping suds even sweeter.

From the Bronx Brewery's Summer Pale Ale to Queens' Bridge and Tunnel Brewery’s IPA Stickball and Johnny Pumps, the city's brewers are churning out barrels of refreshing beers — many of them featuring light ales with citrus undertones.

“It’s a really easy drinking beer for the summer. It’s light. It’s just a little fruity — not fruity sweet, but you get the lemon,” said Chris Gallant, co-founder of the Bronx Brewery, of the company’s Summer Pale Ale. He described it as a light drink with notes of citrus that the brewery makes using a dry lemon peel.

KelSo Beer owner and brewer Kelly Taylor called their brew, Carollgaarden Wit, a “quintessential summer beer.” The company tweaks the light and fruity recipe every year and this season has opted to play up its lemon flavoring.

“It’s a nice wit beer, very enjoyable,” said Taylor, adding that they had fun with the name — a play on the lemon-friendly Belgian beer Hoegaarden and the neighborhood Carroll Gardens. “It’s one of the few beers that we actually put an interesting name to.”

There are many lemon or citrus-infused summer brews on tap this summer, including the Alphabet City Brewing Company's Easy Blonde Ale, a light brew with hints of citrus and white pepper. Brewery founder and proprietor Jason Yarusi said the beer goes well with fish and oysters and drinkers are meant to enjoy it with friends, he said.

“It doesn’t have that heavy finish to it,” said Yarusi. “It’s a real clean, crisp finish.”

Batch 101 from Big Alice Brewing in Long Island City veered away from the citrus-centric trend, aiming instead for a sweet and smoky taste reminiscent of a summer campfire, according to co-founder and brewer Kyle Hurst. The beer is a smoked ale aged with hickory and maple, which helps give it a savory taste.

“It’s sweet and easy drinking, but you’ve got to be careful because it checks in at almost 13 percent,” he said of the higher-than-usual alcohol content. “But you don’t know it when you’re drinking it.”

Gun Hill Brewing Company in the Bronx suggests trying out Schuyler’s American Wheat for the summer months, a lightly hopped beer that salesman and bartender Max Balkin said goes down very smoothly. The drink pairs well with pasta and seafood, and it is served with a slice of lemon at the brewery.

“I’ve had nine or ten pints in one day,” said Balkin. “It’s just super easy to drink.”

Rich Castagna, proprietor of Bridge and Tunnel Brewery in Queens, recommended his company’s IPA Stickball and Johnny Pumps — an old name for New York City fire hydrants — which he described as light, refreshing and smooth. The name is supposed to bring summer to mind as well.

“It’s a throwback to back when the kids on the streets here used to actually play stickball in the summertime and open the Johnny pumps,” Castagna said. “You don’t really see that anymore because there are so many cars on the road and controls on the pumps.”

Staten Island's Flagship Brewing Company offered up its Flagship Pastime Summer Ale for the season, a light drink geared toward being enjoyed at a ballpark while having something to eat. The beverage also includes an aptly named ingredient from across the Pacific.

"We actually imported a hop from Australia named summer," said Flagship Executive Vice President Jay Sykes.

Michael Lenane, writer for the creative team at Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn, suggested RAD, a tart mixture of wheat beer and juices that he characterized as “extremely refreshing” for the summer.

“A low ABV of 3.2 percent helps to make RAD especially quaffable,” he said in an email.

And Brooklyn Brewery recommended its Brooklyn Summer Ale, which the company describes as flavorful and light with a fresh, bready flavor.

“German and American hops lend a light crisp bitterness and a citrus/floral aroma, resulting in a beer with a very sunny disposition,” according to a description on the company’s website.

Did we miss your favorite beer? Let us know in the comments!