As I write there is still just under a week of astronomical summer remaining and Summarillo is a summer seasonal so, technically speaking, this review is quite timely.
Earlier this aestival season Central Water introduced its new summer seasonal, Summarillo
. Billed as an India Style Pale Lager, it is hopped solely with Amarillo hops. Hence the portmanteau name. The IPL is a relatively new marketing gimmick crafted by American brewers to capitalize on the tendency of many
drinkers to go rushing headlong towards any beer whose style incorporates the word "India" or a capital "I" in abbreviation of the word.
I'm not really sure what an IPL is. Sam Adams released one called Double Agent
a few years ago while Wisconsin Brewing Company brewed an "India White Lager"
, an IPL crossed with a witbier. Leinenkugel's also has one
. A working definition of IPL might be a pale lager that is hopped without Noble hop varieties or with them in addition to American hop varieties. Or something. Honestly, they're just Bohemian-style pilsners made without Saaz hops as far as I can tell.
I was rather underwhelmed by Double Agent, to be blunt, and WBC's take was all Frankenstein-like with the witbier being stitched onto the IPwhatever concept. So how does Summarillo compare?
It pours a brilliant, summery yellow for starters. Curiously enough, it was slightly hazy. I presume this was a chill haze. My glass was adorned with a lovely, pillowy white head that had Viagra-like staying power. I mean there was foam left at the bottom of my glass after the beer had been deposited into my maw. There was a healthy amount of bubbles in the beer making their way up to the perma-head.
Not being a lupulin expert I was not overly familiar with Amarillo hops going into this. The aroma, however, was redolent with its characteristic citrus, floral, and resiny bouquets. As someone who tends to drink beers hopped with Noble hops or other similar varieties (e.g. - Liberty, Northern Brewer), I found myself drawn to the Amarillo. It was like a siren's call tempting me to taste its elixir. Except it was a scent. A siren's scent tempting me to taste its elixir.
Unexpectedly, the malt was also present here with a bready scent. Being a bit cynical, I figured that the hops would be the be-all-end-all of the beer with the actual beer part of the beer being neglected. It was nice to be wrong, at least on the olfactory side of things.
The taste was similarly luscious. Those hops were front and center here with floral and citrus notes being most prominent but there were also a resiny taste and a peppery spiciness to boot. But, as with the aroma, the malt was not totally neglected here with a slighty sweet bread flavor in the background. Moderate carbonation lent a bit of dryness. It had a medium-light body but a slightly lighter mouthfeel owing to all those hops.
Summarillo finished clean and dry as you'd expect from a lager. A piney/resiny bitterness remained on my tongue for a spell while my glass was left with some really fine Schaumhaftvermoegen on all sides along with a large dollop of head at the bottom.
This beer was a most pleasant surprise. As a rule I don't care for India whatever beers because the hops are given free rein to run roughshod over the graininess. Summarillo is certainly a hop forward beer yet the malt is a vital component to the overall flavor and not a fleeting token essence buried deep in the background. I loved how the floral and citrus flavors from the hops combined to taste almost sweet. As I've drunk more gruits I've become appreciative of floral tastes in beer and I think that's a big reason why I liked the Amarillos. Plus Summarillo was hoppy without being extremely bitter which I greatly appreciated. I shall be seeking this beer out next summer and I cannot recall the last time I actually sought out an IPwhatever.
Junk food pairing: Pair Summarillo with Chicken in a Biskit crackers or, for braver souls, try a spicy hot chivda.
Labels: Amherst, Beer, Central Waters, India Pale Lager, IPL