The seasons are changing and so should your drinking routine. If you’re looking for some new brews for your warm-weather escapades, check out three recent releases and a special one-off for inspiration.
Coney Island Tunnel of Love Watermelon Wheat (4.8 percent alcohol by volume)
Last year, Schmaltz Brewing Company sold the Coney Island label to Alchemy & Science, a “craft beer incubator” owned by Boston Brewing Company. The brand recently relaunched with a new aesthetic (gone are the freak show labels) and new recipes (save for the Coney Island Lager, whose liquid remains the same). The new owners plan to open a full-fledged brewery in Coney Island sometime in the near future. (The “world’s smallest brewery” one-gallon system Coney Island briefly operated got destroyed in Hurricane Sandy.)
Along with the changes in ownership and design come new offerings. This summer seasonal, meant to call to mind the “romance and fun” of Coney Island, pours a sunset reddish-orange with distinct watermelon slushie scent. The taste builds on a crackery malt base, boasting assertive watermelon flavor more like candy than fresh fruit. Subtle carbonation and gentle hoppiness counteract the sweetness, making this a good beer to pair with a Nathan’s hot dog and a stroll on the boardwalk.
Kona Castaway IPA (6 percent alcohol by volume)
Although it’s been available in the brewery’s home state of Hawaii for a decade, Castaway IPA just made its way to the continental 48 this year. It joins Longboard Island Lager, among others, in Kona’s NYC-area stable. This “Hawaiian-style IPA” — a small category to be sure — clocks in at 6 percent ABV with a deceptive smoothness that makes it easy to down a few at a time.
Castaway is dominated on the nose by tropical fruit, including mango and fresh citrus. A mild maltiness underlies more fruit on the palate, with pineapple and strong currents of grapefruit. At 55 IBUs, the hoppiness remains balanced throughout but finishes with a satisfying bitterness. Take this one out to the Rockaways, grab some tacos, and kick back in the sun.
Firestone Walker Easy Jack Summer Session IPA (4.5 percent alcohol by volume)
Released this past winter, Easy Jack was a few months early for session drinking high season. Dry hopped with varieties from Europe, New Zealand, and North America, it boasts lemon and orange notes on the nose and crisp, lively carbonation. Malty cereal flavors and a surprising tanginess counteract the lively hop action, bringing out hints of pineapple and tropical fruit.
Paso Robles, CA-based brewery Firestone Walker releases all its beers sans pasteurization, meaning they should stay in cool, dark places until opened. Every bottle has a “bottled on” date, so you’ll know if you’re getting the freshest ale available.
Stillwater/Omnipollo Remix Project Babylonian Style Ale (6 percent alcohol by volume)
Craft favorite Stillwater released this one-off brew as part of its Remix Series wherein the brewery swaps recipes with a counterpart and adds its own special twist. In this case, Stillwater took Swedish brewery Omnipollo’s Nebuchadnezzar Imperial IPA and funked it up with Brettanomyces and farmhouse yeast. (Omnipollo, in exchange, riffed on Stillwater’s Classique with “an abundance of Amarillo hops.”)
Hazy gold and boasting a thick head that quickly settles, the nose immediately presents apricots and oranges mixed with soft, funky yeast. The taste is creamy and tangy all at once, with juicy fruit that carries through the finish. Brettanomyces counteracts sweet, floral, perfumey notes and a crisp grassiness lends freshness that lingers in the dry, fruity finish.