Thursday, June 25, 2009

Brooklyn Summer Ale

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (597) - Albany, USA - JAN 28, 2010
I always thought I was a fan of summer beers, but looking at my ratings of beers of the seasonal style I’ve realized I’m actually a bit miserly when it comes to rating them. Why? Because so many tend to be too light to appreciate. Fortunately the Brooklyn Brewery has been able to put their craftsmanship to make Brooklyn Summer Ale not only a crafty beer, but a beer that can be enjoyed by anyone.


(NOTE: I am changing this portion of the review from “pour, color, and aroma” to “appearance and aroma” since I don’t really care HOW a beer pours, but more what it looks like after it has been poured [and even this is still a minute factor since appearance and/or aroma are not necessarily correlated to how good a beer is over]).

This beer has a dark gold color and a crystal-clear complexion. There are big bubbles nestling on the bottom of the glass which occasionally rise to the top. The head is large, off-white, mostly foamy but slight creamy. It left a surprising amount of lacing on the glass for a summer brew.

The aroma is sweet, light, and crisp with a hint of spice. I detected yeast which explains its slightly bready scent. It’s very inviting from the nose alone.


Debate rages on the internet as to what style of beer Brooklyn Summer Ale actually belongs to. Some consider it a Belgian golden ale, others call it an English Pale Ale. Brooklyn’s website describes it as a “luncheon beer” and discusses the history of such brews. Frankly, I think some of the beer nerds get too hung up on labels because as soon as I took my first sip I knew it was a summer beer and that’s what matters.

The taste here is much like the smell – light, sweet and crisp with a strong yeasty component. It’s surprising how thick and soft the actual mouthfeel itself is since the flavor is rather mild but the mouthfeel makes it seem richer than it actually is. I get just the slightest, faintest hints of banana and clove, but at nowhere near the volume of a hefeweizen.

I also noted a slight metallic taste in the initial mouthfeel, but its quickly washed away by a tasty, lightly-hopped composition with a back end that’s oddly reminiscent of those European green bottle pilsners. It’s not dry, but it’s not intense either.


While I would describe Brooklyn Summer Ale as a mostly crisp beer, it’s very surprising just how soft and thick the overall mouthfeel is. It doesn’t dance on the palate and finishes very smooth and clean. The overall drinkability here is high – but that’s the point, right?


Summer beers should be easy to drink, tasty and refreshing – which Brooklyn Summer Ale is – but they should also be light enough to not overwhelm the drinker. At 5% ABV, this is one of the heftiest summer brews I’ve ever drank. While it certainly does not feel heavy during or immediately after the drinking process, I’d bet the average drinker would find the beer surprisingly filling if drank in larger quantities.


A beer like Brooklyn Summer Ale just goes to show how a craft brewery can take what is otherwise a run-of-the-mill beer and turn it into a quality product. It’s a shame this beer doesn’t receive the distribution the bigger name brands do since it’s superior to them in so many ways, and you don’t have to be a beer snob to appreciate it.

Grade: 7/10

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