When not stationed in front of my laptop, I spent the entire summer drifting listlessly on a pool float, lounging next to the pool, and basically anywhere pool adjacent. And more often than not, my relaxation was accompanied by a local crispy boy, or lager in layman’s terms. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my IPA’s, fruited sours, stouts and most everything in-between, but there is just something about the cleanest and crispiest of lagers that has filled my heart with pure joy as of late.
Hence the Summer of Lager, a delicious, sun-filled celebration of clear beer, a movement that has made 2020 a little less terrible. It would cease to exist, of course, without the constant barrage of pilsners and lagers these past few months from Western New York brewers, valiant men and women who took it upon themselves to ensure we all had some light libations to enjoy outdoors this summer. And for that, I, we, thank you from the bottom of my, our, glass.
The call for more good lagers in craft beer isn’t anything new; asking for clear beer has almost become something of a badge of honor amongst craft beer aficionados. But a wise man once told me, you can’t hide behind a lager, and if you want to truly test a brewer’s mettle, just try their pilsner, because it should tell you everything you need to know about their beer. And while it has become common place for breweries far and wide to have both an IPA series and a fruited sour series, I have always been a fan of a house lager and/or a house pilsner. Call me old fashioned.
Thin Man’s Tension Breaker might be my favorite all-around beer of this entire year (yes, I know it’s only September). I say all-around because it was a great beer to enjoy while mowing the lawn, relaxing in the hot tub, hanging by the pool, watching TV, eating dinner, etc. You get the point. I just recently bought more of it from Consumer’s and I couldn’t be happier. While I’m on my favorites, I have to mention to mention Community Beer Works Let’s Go Pils, which is probably the beer I’ve consumed the most this summer. I don’t want to go so far as to say I’ve fallen in love with this beer all over again this summer because I never really fell out of love with it. You know what I mean?
That’s not the last you’ll hear of those breweries either. Thin Man had a hell of summer (well, year, actually) and their Bound for the Floor Pils and Grapefruit Pils (honorable mention to Gentle Persuasion) were two of my favorite beers this summer. I discovered that Grapefruit Pils goes down way too easily around a campfire, and, word to the wise, if you’re going camping, bring more than one 4-pack of this beer. CBW’s Meyer Lemon Let’s Go Pils was maybe my favorite pool beer of the entire summer. I loved that the lemon flavor was more an accent to the beer instead of being too sweet. On the flip side, their Yuzu Ginger Let’s Go Pils pairs perfectly with a good burger.
Another important beer for me this summer was Helles Superior, a crisp, lightly hoppy and thoroughly tasty collaboration from two of my favorite breweries in Big Ditch and Ommegang, a brewery that helped craft my love of darker beers, as well as Belgian-inspired beers. And there isn’t much to say about Big Ditch that hasn’t already been said, so congratulations to them on winning a TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Award recently. There, I haven’t said that before.
Resurgence’s Bridge Pils was a not-new beer that I drank a lot of this summer (I can same the same for their Oktoberfest), a go-to poolside beer, as was Hamburg’s Lake View Lager, a beer I feel was crafted for hot tub enjoyment. Froth’s Loyal to the Grain, a German-style Pilsner, was lovely, and I also really dug 42 North Craftsman Lager, the little bit of it I had at least. It went quick poolside.
Now that summer has come to an end, the question is, what do I call this fall? Because I am not going to stop drinking crispys anytime soon. Do I go with Crispy Boy Fall, or the Autumn of Lager?
Looking back, this was a great summer. Earlier this year, I told myself that I wanted to drink more lagers and spend more time in the pool, two things I accomplished in spades over these past few months. And, on a serious note, I’d like to thank all of the breweries for these great beers, the ones I’ve mentioned and many more, because I’ve had one hell of a year, full of many emotional and physical peaks and valleys, and these beers and the experiences and memories they’ve helped to create, helped get me through. I know it’s only beer, but it means a lot to me. And for that, I thank you.
Let me leave you with this – drink more lager. Grab a clear beer the next time you’re out.
Brian Campbell is co-founder and Brand Manager of the Buffalo Beer League, and writes the weekly Buffalo Beer Buzz column. If you have beer news that should be included in the Beer Buzz, Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter (@buffbeerleague), Instagram (@buffalobeerleague), and Facebook (@thebuffalobeerleague).