Sierra Nevada's Summerfest Sticks with the Script

Sierra Neveda Summerfest is a fine example of a craft summer beer done right.

Seasonal beer is an answer to the changes in landscape. Each pour of a good brew is not just a filler to the day or evening, but an added accent to the opera of the daily hustle. And as craft beer continues to take over, and as palettes find ways to adjust to new and innovative flavors, the summer beer evolves into more than just a filler between bites of freshly grilled shrimp kabobs.

In summer 2019, funky flavors and limited editions are running the craft beer game, and although fueled off a little bit of hype, they still center around progressive brewing techniques and robust flavors. In this modern era, a summer beer can be super hoppy, a funky sour ale, infused with ingredients like cacao, peaches, or orange blossom honey, or with a good enough alcohol content to get the griller faded before even opening a bag of charcoal.

With such an array of flavors, it’s only natural to down a hazy IPA while grilling.

Well, there used to be a code to drinking brew. Like how a light pilz was the primo go-to for the patio during a hot summer evening, while a thick imperial stout was the ideal libation for an overnight trek deep into the snowy highlands. With such an array of flavors stacking shelves, it’s been only natural to branch out of this basic beer etiquette and thrown down a hazy IPA while grilling those shrimp kabobs.

And that paved a trend to almost forget about the potential of the bright and crisp lager. The aisles were stacked with product brewed with muscat grapes or 6 different hops, but limited in terms of well-balanced light beers that didn’t taste like metal.

A high quality lager always delivers on a Sunday in July.

A high quality lager always delivers on a Sunday in July.

And even an attempt to make a summer brew was another pale ale that lacked the depth of an IPA, or a wheat beer that had the look, and was often refreshing, but still too filling and not suitable for the long haul.

Considering that the craft beer industry is finally embracing the potential of lighter and crisper styles, it’s refreshing to have more sessionable quality beers on the shelves. And Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest is a timely representation of this philosophy. It’s one of those beers that makes it’s appearance at the right moments, and continues to be a go-to option for the warmer months.

Its golden and clear appearance is a gateway to the refreshing clarity of summer brew.

Formally considered a Czech-style lager, its golden and clear appearance offers a gateway to the refreshing clarity of summer brew. A good amount of carbonation, nice and neutral aroma, super distinct malty flavors, and just straight smooth.

With enough citrusy and honey flavors to keep it interesting, it leaves enough flavor in the mouth to remind the drinker of its presence. Best when served super chilled and ideal with a bowl of primo pistachios.

This is what it should be about. Elements like grilling a fresh catch on charcoal, an abundance of amazing local produce, and light and refreshing brew to keep it all together. And with all the funky flavors on the shelves, sometimes a brew that sticks with the original script and keeps it simple can achieve this.

Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest has been a solid go-to for the past many summers. With a growing demand for more well-crafted summer style lagers, expect the shelves to evolve with more offerings from many well-known brands. The progressive and innovative styles will continue to provide gnarly options, but one must never forget the foundation and the original script of beer culture.


Aslan Moini