Saturday, February 12, 2011

Quaff Review #10: Summer Honey Seasonal Ale

It's winter in New Westminster, and the weather forecast is dominated by rain. The nights are cold, the days are grey, and this thing that the tales of our ancestors call "sky" is seeming more and more to be just a myth that keeps the Lower Mainland trudging forward in the hope of better days. It is, therefore, the perfect time for me to reflect on my last bottle of Summer Honey Seasonal Ale, from the Big Sky Brewing Company of Missoula, Montana.

I picked up a six-pack of bottles from an Albertson's grocery store in Billings while heading west to Vancouver - coming just in under the wire, since as a seasonal brew, it's only available from April to September - and I drank them only carefully. After all, from what I've seen of the BCL's offerings, it's not like I'll be able to replace them any time soon.

The bottle advertises it as "ale brewed with honey & spices" - the Big Sky website doesn't expand much on this, calling it only a "unique, balanced blend of spices" with Montana honey. While I don't taste the honey too much myself, it's still a smooth-tasting beer with no negative aftertaste. The taste itself defied easy description when I tried to pin it down; for me there was a sensation of wheat with vague berry hints, with a few minor flavors lurking around the fringes, making it just busy enough to be interesting. It doesn't have much of a smell to it, which is good news - after my experience with Earthquake High Gravity Lager a few months back, I think I like my beers better when the alcohol content isn't obvious from a sniff.

It's a nice, clear amber, and with 5.0% alc./vol. for a 355 mL bottle, it has the smooth, relaxing looseness that makes for an ideal Saturday afternoon porch beer. How unfortunate that I don't have a porch, and that they're calling for rain all day.

I almost wish I had negative things to say about Summer Honey Seasonal Ale - but I don't. There's nothing groundbreaking about it, nothing that particularly draws my attention, nothing that makes me focus in on it one way or another; it's just there, in the background, fulfilling its role with quiet competence. That's the sort of thing I can respect about a good beer.

Though I wonder if it's sold anywhere closer to Vancouver than Montana.


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