First sign of summer
It seems like only yesterday that I was giddily typing up notes about the wonderful beers that herald the arrival of spring. And yet, a new early bird of the summer brewing season has arrived. In craft brewing circles, that generally means one thing: wheat beers. American-style hefeweizens, house ales cut with malted wheat, or pilsners produced for a lighter, more refreshing finish seem to dominate the field, as polar opposites to the robust, dark and malty brews that the same houses produce for the winter months. Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice (oddly subtitled Cerveza Crema is a wholly different beast in that it's their way of responding to the fans of their classic (drumroll please...) Winter Solstice. By that, they went ahead and made a lighter (5.6% abv), more lawnmower-friendly version of their winter warmer (6.9% abv), resulting in something of a cross between a maibock and Fat Tire - sweet and malty with vanilla in the aroma, with a biscuity, toasty palate and a long, smooth finish. Is the Crema creamy? Fluffy, more like. But I guess it sounds better than cerveza mullido. It's an interesting approach to the "ultimate shady hammock cooler" that all the craftsters eventually jockey for at this time of year. Almost perilously underhopped for a beer out of Northern California, it's still a good bet for your bbq shopping list. Just consider pairing it with milder (ie German or British) foods, as this cerveza won't do the trick washing that salsa picante off your tongue, amigo.