When the dog days of summer are in full swing there’s nothing like a cold beer to beat the heat. Not just any beer though, August calls for beers that are thirst quenching, refreshing, and sessionable. This is no time for a malty doppelbock or a barrel aged behemoth. (For those who take exception to this generalization I’m sure the team at Zaftig Brewing has something to satiate your counterintuitive palate). So with highs reaching into the upper 80’s for the foreseeable future, I’ve decided to post a reviews this week of several Ohio beers that pair with summer like a fish to water.
Speaking of fish, let’s kick the series off with a beer that made its debut in packaged form this summer, North High’s Grapefruit Walleye Session IPA. If any beer was tailor made for summer, this is the one.
- Brewery: North High (Columbus, OH)
- Style: Session IPA
- ABV: 4.7%
- IBU: 64
- Price: $9.99 for a 6 pack of 12 oz cans
My first obstacle was tracking down a sixer of this popular beer. Fortunately, Palmer’s Beverage in Clintonville had several six packs on hand when I stopped by on the way home from work on Friday. Even on the shelf it looks more refreshing than the beers around it. The distinctive soft orange and white color scheme is suggestive of a creamsicle with a subtle nod toward the largest member of the perch family. Fine print on the side of the can provides a succinct description of the beer:
“The dank pungency of Citra hops is amplified by a hearty dose of grapefruit juice. The result is an effervescent blast of citrus twang.”
My task upon getting home is to pull weeds in the garden, and predictably it’s not too long before it’s time for a beer. As I scan the fridge looking for something to quench my thirst, I can’t escape the mesmerizing sideward gaze of the Walleye. Bypassing pale ales, pilsners and the odd porter left over from cooler days I go for the Walleye. While it would be no sin to drink this beer straight from the can, it’s a review so I grab tulip glass and transfer for a closer look. The beer fills the glass with a pale golden liquid that is hazy to the point of being opaque. A head builds on the surface and grows like a towering cumulonimbus cloud on the horizon. Before long the snow white head has grown to fill nearly half the glass. The aroma is largely that of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, tinged with the unmistakable dank, cannabis-like aroma of citra hops. After waiting impatiently for a couple of minutes the head recedes enough for a drink. The taste follows the nose with grapefruit flavors playing the dominant role. The sweetness of the malts balances the acidity of the grapefruit juice perfectly, leaving behind just a touch of tartness. The citra hop flavors emerge at the finish reminding you that the base beer is an IPA. The mouthfeel is light bodied, as expected, but the malts add the slightest hint of creaminess. The finish is crisp and dry with minimal bitterness.
Grapefruit Walleye drinks like a collaboration between Three Floyds and Tropicana. It’s easy drinking and undeniably fruity, with enough hop aroma to keep things interesting but not so much that it distracts from the main mission. This is not a beer that requires you to dissect subtle flavors and take careful notes, it’s a beer for backyard barbecues and playing cornhole with your buddies. Think of it as a grapefruit shandy for grownups. If there’s a summer beer that’s more drinkable, more crushable, than Grapefruit Walleye I haven’t come across it.
In intro I said it was challenging to track down a six pack in the store, but it may be even tougher to keep it in my fridge. Only one of six cans that came home with me on Friday survived the weekend.
Rating scale: 10 = perfection, 9 = excellent, one of the top beers in the world, 8 = very good, one of the top beers in its style category, 7 = good, a solid beer I’m happy to be drinking, 6 = average, not bad but not something I’m likely to buy again, 5 = below average, 3-4 = poor, should be avoided, 1-2 drainpour.