Summer drinks are evolving, away from sticky-sweet, rum-based concoctions and toward refreshing drinks that play bitter, sour, and sweet flavors off each other. Anyone who's been to Italy and ordered an Aperol or Campari Spritz knows that a summer drink doesn't have to be sweet to be refreshing.
Summer beers are evolving as well; they don't have to be overwhelmingly lemony, and you shouldn't need to put a lime in them to choke them down. One style of beer that has seen a resurgence is the Berliner Weiss style, which originated around Berlin, Germany starting in the 17th century. The main characteristic of this style is a mild sourness and tartness, which has led to it being called the "Champagne of the North".
Everett's Night Shift Brewing offers up a twist on the classic Berliner Weiss beer with their Somer Weisse. I took home a bottle of this last week and enjoyed it on a hot day.
The beer pours a pale, fizzy yellow, with a nice head that quickly dissipates. The brewery says the twist on the classic style is the addition of lemongrass and ginger notes, and you can smell both. It smells a little sour and just the slightest bit funky.
The first sip is tart. The ginger is forward, as is the citrus. Unlike a traditional summer beer, however, the flavors are sour and complex as opposed to being sweet. The mouthfeel is more like drinking seltzer than drinking a beer. It tastes, in other words, like the kind of summer cocktail you get at a bar that knows how to make a proper summer cocktail. It could be a little more dry, but that's nitpicking.
Night Shift has made four batches of this beer. I got batch three, which was bottled on June 18. The beer has an alcohol content of 4.9 percent. A bottle costs around $10 for a 750-ml bottle. A fourth batch was bottled on July 21.
This is a good introduction to a refreshing sour beer. Compare it to Dogfish Head's Festina Peche, another Berliner Weiss. In Germany a syrup is sometimes added to these beers to make the sourness more palatable, but I think the style stands up on its own.