Some breweries make summer beers and some brewers make beers for summer. There’s a distinct difference, with a gulf as wide as Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy or Samuel Adams Summer Ale on one side and Dogfish Head Festina Peche or Great South Bay’s Blonde Ambition on the other. This is not to say that all summer seasonals are bad, but the best beers for the season often times are the unintentional efforts put forth by a brewer.
Take New Belgium, for instance. Best known for their flagship ale, Fat Tire, NBB released Skinny Dip for Summer 2015, as its peach-spiked seasonal lager. Skinny Dip has been reformulated and reintroduced once or twice already (it was first shipped in 2006 with Kaffir lime peel). Since NBB is not distributed in New York State, I have not tried version 2.0. The first edition was not particularly memorable. I say this because I don’t remember what it tastes like, but remember drinking it while on vacation in the Outer Banks. I remember beers I bought seven years ago, but my travel coffee mug has been sitting on my desk since Monday because I forget to bring it home. The mind really is a terrible thing to waste.
Digressing, the flipside of this coin comes courtesy of the Lips of Faith series of the brewery’s experimental and collaboration brews. Released in May 2015, NBB’s Pear Ginger Beer is one of those concoctions made for summertime consumption. It’s dry and slightly sour but fruity, thanks to a dose of ale yeast combined with lemon and pear juice. It’s not sweet at all. Actually, there is a spicy burn at the end courtesy of the ginger, reminiscent of the finish of a ginger beer. It’s a lighter-bodied, high carbonation beer that is refreshing and clean; the type of beer you would drink poolside on a summer’s day.
The Lips of Faith series is that these are limited-time runs, which is a damn shame because this beer speaks to summer without effort in ways that others that try too hard can never achieve.
NOTE: New Belgium Brewing Company provided this beer as a complimentary sample. No other compensation was received.
Brewer: New Belgium Brewing Company
Beer: Lips of Faith Pear Ginger Beer
Style: Fruit/Vegetable Beer
ABV: 7.0% IBU: 10
Container: 22 oz. bottle
To The Eye: Golden to orange and clear. A nice pillowy head that thinned some but remained.
To The Nose: Fruit and spice smells that were clearly. pear and ginger
To The Palate: Good carbonation and light-bodied. No hop or malt character at all. This tasted almost like a sour beer, due to the combination of pear and lemon.
Aftertaste: Finishes clean and dry with ginger beer-like burn in your throat.
Boozy Factor: I felt it a little bit, which was nice for a Tuesday night.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 8.5