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Best beers for warm weather drinking

PUBLISHED: 16:22 07 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:18 20 February 2013

Best beers for warm weather drinking

Best beers for warm weather drinking

Duncan Brodie has some good news, and a fine list of recommendations, for summertime beer drinkers

Duncan Brodie has some good news, and a fine list of recommendations, for summertime beer drinkers

According to Stephen Fry (so it must be true...) the food and drink police have got it all wrong. There is, says the host of the cerebral TV panel show QI, in one of the ubiquitous repeats to be found on the digital channel Dave, no scientific basis for the strictures against consuming alcohol during hot weather.
It is true that alcohol is a mild diuretic but the increased rate at which the body loses water as a result is offset many times over by the volume of liquid consumed, particularly if one is drinking something relatively low in alcohol by volume such as lager or ale.
If whisky or brandy is your preferred tipple the evidence is less clear-cut, but then they are not the kind of drinks that usually appeal on a hot summers day. The fact that a beer can be so enticing in warm weather, however, is your bodys way of telling you something.
This is not to suggest that Andy Murrays chances would be enhanced by taking a sup from a pint of heavy when changing ends at Wimbledon and one may still frown at the story that the fruit juices carried out by the 12th man during the drinks interval at England Test matches were, once upon a time, carefully arranged around the tray so as to hide a half of bitter.
But the point is that serious sportsmen and women avoid alcohol (at least while they are competing) more because of its effect on the brain than on the kidneys. Most people, unless they happen to be clinically dehydrated from some reason, like getting lost in the Sahara or running a marathon (both of which are equally unlikely in my case), can enjoy a beer in summer with a clear conscience, even if not with an entirely clear head.
And this is particularly good news in this corner of the world as Suffolk happens to offer some of the best summer drinking you will find anywhere.

"The fact that beer is so enticing in warm weather is your bodys way of telling you something, though this is not to suggest Andy Murrays chances would be enhanced by a sup from a pint of heavy when changing ends at Wimbledon"

The classic style of beer associated with summer is, of course, lager, mostly because it is served chilled, although its lighter malt character, compared with traditional English ales, also adds to its thirst-quencing properties.
In fact, many of the best-known lagers, brewed in industrial quantities with more of an eye to price than quality, are so light on malt character as to be pretty much devoid of any flavour at all but, happily, Suffolk has its very own lager brewer in the form of Calvors, based at Coddenham, which is bucking the trend.
The companys original Calvors Premium is slightly lighter in colour than most lagers but is in no way short of character, either on the nose or the palate, with an aroma evocative of freshly cut grass and a malty but clean finish.
Being more gently carbonated than many lagers, Calvors Premium is also good with food.
If you are a confirmed lager drinker and fancy something a little more mainstream, there is also Calvors 3.8 which is lower in alcohol content, at 3.8%abv against 5%, and slightly more conventional in colour and taste.
If, on the other hand, you are an ale drinker (or are prepared to give it a go), Suffolks two best-known brewers also have just the thing for summer.
Adnams offers Explorer which is lighter in colour than a standard bitter and, unlike most ales, is brewed especially to be served chilled rather than merely cool. It is characterised by citrus-like notes (pink grapefruit, perhaps) provided by the use of American hop varieties and is a great refresher.
Alternatively, Adnams range also now includes a bottled version of East Green, which was originally developed as Britains first carbon neutral beer. Far from being gimmicky, as could easily have been the case, the result is a genuinely great beer, relatively light in colour, like Explorer, and also offering a good clean finish but more true in character to the tradition of English ale on the palate.
Greene King has a rival to Explorer in the form of St Edmunds, also brewed to be served cooler than is usual for an ale, and also characterised by zesty citric notes. If, however, you are a traditionalist for whom only a conventional ale will do, then there is always the Greene King IPA, the firms flagship hoppy session bitter, which is as enjoyable in summer as any other time.
Nor does Suffolks outstanding summer drinking offer end with beer, since the county is also home of cider (or, as they prefer to spell it, cyder) maker Aspall. I am not habitually (as the Wurzels put it) a cider drinker, but I am a cyder drinker, with Aspalls Dry Premier Cru Suffolk Cyder being the deserved winner of a string of awards, including the modest title of Worlds Best Cider in 2008.
Being made with fresh juice from a blend of different apple varieties, Premier Cru does not have the aggressive astringency of cheaper ciders (which producers often try to cover up with excessive sweetness) but actually tastes of apples and is wonderfully refreshing on a warm summers day.
And for something completely different, Aspall also offers Perronelles Blush, which contains an added dash of blackberry liqueur.
A day or so after the last QI repeat featuring the alcohol discussion (which, by the way, cost Phill Jupitus a 10 point forfeit) I happened upon a bric-a-brac store offering a kitsch, and probably American, figurine of a lady of uncertain age with a drink in her hand and carrying the slogan. You hydrate your way, honey, and Ill hydrate mine.
She might well have been drinking Perronelles Blush but even if she wasnt I couldnt help but feel she had the right idea.


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