For this writer, the heat and humidity of summer in North Carolina are exactly what I want after the chill of winter and the uncertain meteorological whims of spring. I will admit, however, that some of the chores of summer can become a bit exhausting in the thick atmospheric stew of the “dog days.” Planting, gardening, weeding, mowing the lawn, firing up the grill or slapping at a mosquito can sap one’s strength during these months of glorious sunshine. While water, lemonade, or sweet tea are wonderful refreshments, allow me to suggest alternatives to these classics; alternatives which, while being a bit more adult in nature, can be thirst-quenching, heatbeating, and also show off the craftsmanship of North Carolinians….Beer.
For several years now, the craft beer movement has been sweeping the nation. Beer enthusiasts, tired of uninteresting, watered-down flavor profiles, have been throwing their support behind beverage artisans focused on expanding the definitions of beer. North Carolinians, striving to be at the fore of such efforts, are carving a nationally recognized niche of their own in creating interesting and sometimes groundbreaking craft brews.
One of my current summer favorites is the White Street Kolsch brewed by White Street Brewing Company in Wake Forest. Housed in an old Chevrolet dealership from the 1930s, White Street opened in 2012, and only two years later had already earned a Gold Medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup for this Kolsch-style Ale.
Traditionally brewed in Cologne, Germany, Kolsch is a clean and refreshing ale so hugely popular that there are many imitators. White Street’s version, however, is more than an imitation, it’s an homage to this crisp, weightless style of beer with a yellow-gold color and slight fruitiness showing hints of melon and pear. This beer will give you a light and much-needed invigorating lift during your summer chores.
Heading south down US1 is the beer brainchild of three former U.S. Army Green Berets whose passion for home brewing sparked the idea of opening of brewery of their own. The three worked diligently on educating themselves, even living in an RV in the parking lot of the mecca for beer research and education: White Labs in San Diego, California.
Now in its third year, Southern Pines Brewing Company is hailed for its flagship beers, most especially Duck Hook, a cream ale which certainly takes the edge off a hot summer day. Perfectly balanced, this lightto medium-bodied beer shows both a slightly sweet and mildly bitter palate, with clean fruit notes, and a silky mouthfeel.
In Asheville, Wicked Weed Brewing leads the way in craft beer innovation. While all of their brews are highly regarded, it is their Tropicmost Passionfruit Gose which perfectly suits for summer. Gose beers are lightly sour and tart with notes of coriander and salt, and balanced with bright fruit notes (in this case, passionfruit). The aromas of salty sea air and tropical fruit will practically wipe the sweat from your brow.
North Carolina is fortunate to have many innovative craft brewers, so dip your toes in the water and try some of their invigorating and interesting brews during these summer months.