WRITTEN BY MATT BRASCH
For Digital First Media
As Memorial Day approaches, thoughts turn to baseball, barbecues, and trips to the Pocono mountains or the Jersey Shore. For some, it also means “summer ales.” While there is no official category for a “summer ale” in the current Beer Judge Certification Program Guidelines (2008), the one commonality is a release date — the summer months. For example, according to its website, River Horse Summer Blonde is an ale that is available from April until August and uses four types of hops. In contrast, Sam Adams Summer Ale is a wheat beer brewed with lemon peel and Grains of Paradise that can be had from March through July. So more than anything else, a “summer ale” is a seasonal ale that is generally refreshing, golden in color and can be found between the end of March and the end of August.
One summer ale that most craft beer fans in the Philadelphia metropolitan area are familiar with is Victory Brewing Company’s Summer Love Ale. Described by Victory’s website as a “light-bodied ale [that] casts a golden hue reminiscent of the summer sun shining high above the City of Philadelphia…,” Victory is welcoming summer 2015 with Summer Love in a new and exciting ways.
For the first time ever, Victory will offer Summer Love in 12 oz. cans this year. While Victory has many, many varieties of brew that could be successful in cans, according to Amy DePaoli, Victory’s Director of Marketing, canning Summer Love made the most sense because “Summer means outdoors — hiking, fishing, golfing, going to the beach. Putting our summer seasonal in a can makes beer drinking quite a bit more convenient for our fans. Summer Love can now be a part of those favorite summer past times that prohibit bottles.” DePaoli also explained that Summer Love was canned because it “is a refreshing, drinkable beer that the craft beer community has come to associate with so many summer memories.” A recent press release announced that Summer Love cans will be available from local distributors in mid-May, in advance of Memorial Day Weekend.
The inaugural run of Summer Love cans were introduced during a special guided menu and beer tasting event on May 4 at Victory’s newest brewpub located in Kennett Square. “Victory at Magnolia” opened its doors to the public on April 21 and includes a seven-barrel brewery with a custom hop back and open fermentation. It serves a rotating selection of Kennett Square-brewed beer on draft. As with all of Victory’s operations, according to a press release, the Kennett Square location “embraces the community with locally sourced ingredients, provides local jobs and maintains unsurpassed service standards and supports green initiatives.” During the media event on May 4, Victory President and Brewmaster Bill Covaleski explained that in addition to brewing unique Kennett Square beer, the new brewpub provides an “opportunity for Chef Owen [Kolva] to work with ingredients sourced from Kennett Square” and to make a menu that is different from the Downingtown location. The indoor portion of the brewpub holds up to 220 people, and as the weather improves, outdoor seating will be available.
In addition to canning Summer Love, Victory has created an ice cream based on Summer Love Ale — “Strawberry Love.” As explained in Victory’s press release, “Victory Ice Cream is made with wort, the flavorful, non-alcoholic liquid that results from the brewing of malted barley and fresh Brandywine River water…” The Strawberry Love “offers juicy strawberries and refreshingly tasty Summer Love Ale wort and moist angel food cake within a rich, smooth strawberry and vanilla base.” This new flavor, along with Victory’s existing line of ice creams — “Hopped Up Devil,” “Tripel Monkey” and “Storm Drop” and other new addition “Belgian Brûlée” — are available at Kimberton Whole Foods, select Shop Rite stores and the Victory Retail store in Downingtown. Victory President and Brewmaster, Bill Covelski said in a statement, “We love ice cream almost as much as we love beer so it’s only natural to want to challenge ourselves creatively with our favorite dessert.”
Be on the lookout for Victory’s Summer Love — as well as other “summer ales” — prior to Memorial Day Weekend. Whether you are going to the Poconos, the Jersey Shore, or just bar-b-quing at home, a summer ale is the perfect pairing for your summer state-of-mind. Cheers!
Columnist Matt Brasch is a Souderton Area High School graduate and a beer enthusiast. For more, check his blog at http://thebrewholder.com.