6/20/20: Anderson Valley Brewing Company's Summer Solstice

1:12 PM

It's somehow suddenly the longest day of the year. Summer's returned with it's oppressive heat that the mild breeze is doing little to remedy. The bees are busy buzzing about the flowers before my porch. Really feels like February was last week, right?

I've got a little something special today. An unplanned post. See, I was strolling through the beer section of my local grocery store earlier this week and saw that they only had one sixer of Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice left. I'd kicked around buying it when I first started seeing it in May, but never took the plunge. But, since I knew that the summer solstice was coming up (as of right now, when I'm typing this, it's officially 2.5 hours away). So, I figured, why not?

Anderson Valley's something of an enigma around the blog--I've only featured them once. Let's get into who they are and what they do: If you head on over to their "Our History" page, you'll see that Anderson Valley, founded in 1987, is one of the country's original twenty craft breweries. Less than a decade after their inception, they outgrew their 10-barrel brewhouse and, in 1996, moved into the 100-barrel facility they now call home. Now they're so prolific that you can easily find them in my middle-of-nowhere neck of Ohio.

My Summer Solstice can is pretty scant on information (the ale's spiced and rings in at 5% ABV--no more details on the label). Luckily, the brew's page on Anderson Valley's website isn't so tight-lipped. Touted as "a 'cream soda' for adults," the malty ale has a nose of caramel, hints of spice with a clean finish, and a creamy mouthfeel.

I do find caramel on the nose, but that's not all. There's marshmallow, graham cracker, ginger, and a touch of lemon. It's a lot more complex than what you might expect from a summer beer--I know it's not like anything I've encountered before. And, that's a damn good thing. Because as spicy as the Summer Solstice is, it's aroma promises something refreshingly appropriate for this awful 90° day. Purrl, for her part, gave my can nine whiffs. She's not as immediately impressed as I am.

That lemon I noted in the ale's bouquet is big and bright in the flavor profile. And, yeah, the beer's malty but it's nowhere near as malty-sweet as some of the more inferior Oktoberfests that will soon be flooding the market. No, this is a tempered sweetness, with a subdued caramel quality. What about the rest of the aromatics? Well, seems like they're only aromatics. The finish comes in two waves: The first is all clean, attributable to the Chinook hops the ale employs. The second is caramel and lemon mingling brilliantly on the back of my tongue.

Anderson Valley is spot-on with their description of the ale's mouthfeel. It's undeniably creamy.

I've never paid much mind to the summer solstice. The changing of seasons that've always interested me are the autumnal equinox (I love fall) and the winter solstice (I love winter). Spring and summer? They're okay, I guess. Really, too allergen-ridden and hot for my tastes.

Two years ago Michelle was at her parents' doing wedding prep during the summer solstice. I was here, working and taking care of the pets while she was gone for the week leading up to our wedding. One day that week, I decided to take care of the yard work when I got home from my job. I didn't want to be at it super late, so I told myself I'd just be out until it got too dark for me to see what I was doing.

I cut the grass. I weeded the flower beds. I raked up the grass clippings and disposed of them. I watered our plants. I did just about everything that needed to be done before I finally called it quits due to the descending darkness. I was proud of how much I'd accomplished in such a short amount of time.

After I'd showered, I was exhausted. I grabbed a beer from my fridge, cracked it open, and looked at the clock. It was 11 pm! I did a literal double-take. Yep, it was that late. Only too late did I realize that it was the solstice. I sat on the couch and drank my beer, lamenting the loss of my evening. The beer was some small solace, but I'm sure Summer Solstice would've been a better choice, had I had any.

Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice is the correct beer for today, and not just because it's timely. It's flavorful, crisp, refreshing, and downright sessionable, which are all qualities you want in a beer on a hella hot day. I'll throw my can an easy 9.0/10. Grab some, get outside, and drink it.

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