Summer is one of the best times to attend a beer festival. While many people associate the fall with beer festivals (especially in Germany), Summer is probably the best all around time to go to a local beer brewing festival around you. There's a few reasons. First, the weather is perfect for hanging outside and drinking cold beer. Also, you get a chance to try really awesome seasonal beers that are not appropriate for cold weather. And because the festival atmosphere can be so overwhelming, here's a few things to be on the lookout for and defiantly check out.
A Summer Style Ale
Summer ales have become a very popular trend in beer making in recent years. It's a bit of an amorphous category, and can include very hop forward beers with a bitter palate and high ABV, to light beers inspired by Belgian and French country style classics such as the saison. The beers are crisp, and they all share the hop profile (as opposed to the malt heavy winter style beers). You can also find summer style session beers that have super low ABV (in the 3-4% range), that are awesome for a long day at a BBQ where guest might like more than a couple of beers.
Unusual Flavors (Pumpkin, Coffee and Chocolate, and Orange)
If you've always passed up on exotic flavored beers because you weren't sure what they tasted like, then now is your chance to try them. A very popular style is pumpkin ale. It's more of a Fall style, but you can get an advance taste to see if you want to stock up come October and November. There are also lots of beers (mainly stouts) that are brewed with coffee and chocolate that are extremely popular in the Winter. Many of those styles are limited run, so it's a good idea to get a sense of them at the festival so you can order them as soon as they become commercially available later in the year. And finally, there is the orange/citrus combo. This is often paired with herbs in the tradition of the Belgian White beers, which are now being made by craft brewers all over the country. The citrus and spices are perfect for a hot summer day.
A Small Batch Brewing Exhibition
One of the coolest things to see at a beer festival is a demonstration on how to make small batch beer. Even if you're not an aficionado of at home brewing you will find the process fascinating. Some of the best brewers in the country (the ones that win prizes based on taste, not sheer sale volume) where started by hobbyists. You will get to see how the yeast is selected, what type of hops are used, how malt is roasted, and the process of aerating the beer and finally the bottling procedure.
Visit an event like Rockin River Beer and Music Festival today.