DRAFT PICKS: Crisp, clear and refreshing

Following publication of a recent column concerning what is referred to as “adjunct beers” — or beers with all kinds of stuff added to the mix — I had a few readers suggest (once again) that I was something of a beer snob.

I’m not. Really!

But ... just like anyone else, I certainly have my preferences and my dislikes.

I actually understand why people like what I often call “industrial beer.” I don’t like them (and have been known to refer to them as “hops flavored Kool-Aid!”) But even I will admit that a Miller Lite can really be refreshing on a hot summer day.

Still, this would be a good opportunity to once again discuss adjunct beers.

The following is the “adjunct lager” description offered by the good folks at Beer Advocate.

“American Adjunct Lager: Light bodied, pale, fizzy lagers made popular by the large macro-breweries (large breweries) of America after prohibition. Low bitterness, thin malts, and moderate alcohol. Focus is less on flavor and more on mass-production and consumption, cutting flavor and sometimes costs with adjunct cereal grains, like rice and corn.”

Note well, some of the really great wheat beers are actually classified as adjunct beer.

I basically categorize adjunct beers into two major groups, those with “ ... with adjunct cereal grains, like rice and corn” and those with fruit added.

It may be somewhat simplistic, but there you have it.

Summer season sees a dramatic increase in the sale of a class of beers labeled Lite American Lager.

They are easy on the system — a little neutral and often mildly sweet.

Good ol’ American lagers are most generally crisp and dry with little hoppiness or maltiness to annoy the largest group of sippers.

They are very clear and very light in the mouth.

American macro-brewery lagers are good I’m-finished-mowing brews.

The lite/light versions are very, Very, VERY popular — Bud Light, Miller Lite, and even Sam Adams Light.

Not exactly my cup of tea, but heck ... they are an easy way to cool down.

A little more exciting are the adjunct beers containing fruit.

As we have written before, some of these are brewed with real fruit. Others are created using syrups.

My recommendation — stick with the real fruit brews. To my taste, the others just end up sticky and cloying.

There are often pretty distinct aromas and scents to fruity beers. Either you’ll like it or not.

As a rule of thumb, I’ve found that the beers that have been brewed with real fruit are often more subtle and “quiet” than the beers with some form of syrup added.

If you’re already leaning toward a beer that is fruity in nature, I think the fruit added should be supportive and not overly demonstrative.

I’ve also found that many more fruity beers can get a bit skunky sooner than others. This is not scientific, but simply my impression.

Fruit beers often are a bit maltier than not (which isn’t an issue with me!)

One thing is sure, fruit beers are really refreshing if served up at the right temperature. They are crisp and a wonderful way to wash away the dust of a hard day in a garden or up on the roof.


And now ... a couple very popular and light, crisp, clear beers for your summer consideration.

Abita Wheat Abita Brewing Co. Abita Springs, La.

This is an excellent example of what I was writing about when referring to adjunct lagers.

Abita Wheat is a sharp, crisp and clear light orange (a touch more yellow), beer that pours with little head to speak of and little lacing as well.

It’s interesting that this beer clears up a bit as it warms in the hand.

There really isn’t anything too exciting in the scenting. Wheat’s aromas are weak ... at best. You really will need to make an effort in order to pick up on some secondary or even primary smell.

It just isn’t there!

This is a rather bland beer in the tasting. There is a touch of wheat taste — somewhat grassy.

It was cold, and it was wet. BUT ... it wasn’t all that tasty or ... um ... inspiring.

It is cold, bubbly, and refreshing in its own way on a hot day.

Still, I hardly think I’ll be picking up another bottle.

It’s simply kinda ... bland.

Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat Boston beer Co. Boston

This is simply a nice beer.

Cherry Wheat serves slightly hazy ... a little cloudy when chilled properly. It is a somewhat deeper yellow color and pours with a nice white head that lasts a good while.

It sniffs very, very fruity. Despite the fact that this is a cherry wheat, there is a lot of plum scent and a bit of apple tone in the background.

I found Cherry Wheat to be a little more like a sloe plum taste than actual cherries, but that’s OK too! This is really a fine tasting fruit beer with little or no “threat” from the hops and no real substantial maltiness either

Cherry Wheat is rich and creamy, with just enough carbonation to tickle the palate.

This is a great Sam Adams favorite, and one that is absolutely perfect for back deck lounging, or while cooling off after a hard day of yardwork.

Hey! If it’s good, it’s good.

This is good beer.