Dawn’s Early ‘Lite’
You want … pale, light-bodied and easygoing.
You’re drinking: Big Dog’s Las Vegas Craft Lager, a lightly hopped, crisp and clean American-style lager at 5 percent ABV.
Good morning, Sunshine! Time to get up, get at ’em. And you can both think globally and act locally, as proceeds from the sale of this locally made beer benefit the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Says Merritt, “Karma intact.” BigDogsBrews.com.
Three more to try: Blanche De Bruxelles Classic Belgian White Ale, 4.5 percent; Rekorderlig Passion Fruit Cider, 4.5 percent; and Unibroue Ephemere Apple-Infused White Ale, 5.5 percent.
You want … a breakfast beer.
You’re drinking: Dogfish Head Festina Peche, a “Neo” Berliner Weiss (sour wheat beer) at 4.5 percent ABV.
Typically, Berliner Weiss comes in at 2.8-3.8 percent ABV, but as a “neo” Berliner Weiss, Merritt says, “they can do whatever they want.” Still, at less than 5 percent, it’s perfect for mornings and ideal for pairing with bagels, cream cheese and lox. Peach juice is added after a mixed fermentation using yeast and lactobacillus (the souring bacteria in sour cream), so what you get is “a really beautiful, bright and acidic beer; definitely not sweet. It’ll wake your palate right up.” Dogfish.com.
Three more to try: Wells Banana Bread Ale, 5.2 percent; Erdinger Hefeweissen Traditional German Wheat Ale, 5.4 percent; and Brooklyn Greenmarket Wheat Ale, 5.2 percent.
You want … the most refreshment possible.
You’re drinking: La Trappe Witte, a bottle-conditioned wheat ale at 5.5 percent ABV.
Picnic time! Let’s hit the beach or park with the world’s first and only Trappist (monastery) wheat ale. Saphir hops dominate for a highly refreshing citrusy aroma and taste that is one step up in intensity from your Berliner Weiss. “This will be a great one with a summer salad,” Merritt says. “Vinaigrette with any kind of citrus will go well if you just want to poach a little fish. But it’s definitely on the lighter side. I wouldn’t put this with ribs or hot dogs and hamburgers.” LaTrappeTrappist.com.
Three more to try: Firestone Walker Easy Jack Session IPA, 4.5 percent; Rodenbach Flemish Red Ale, 5.2 percent; and Morretti Lager, 5 percent.
You want … something golden for the Golden Hour.
You’re drinking: Samuel Smith India Ale, an English IPA at 5 percent ABV.
A “transitional beer for sundown,” Merritt says, Samuel Smith India Ale is lower in alcohol than most American IPAs. Still brewed with hard water from a well sunk in 1758, “It still packs a lot of flavor, and it’s really good with cheeses hors d’oeuvres, grilled meat, even fish and chips.” The label on the bottle is based on Samuel Smith’s Victorian letterhead when the brewery was a contractor to Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s forces. British enough for you? SamuelSmithsBrewery.co.uk.
Three more to try: AMA Bionda Belgian-Style Pale Ale, 6 percent; Rodenbach Grand Cru Flemish Sour, 6 percent; and Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA, 7.5 percent.
Day’s Last Rays
You want … to up the alcohol.
You’re drinking: La Socarrada, a Spanish ale brewed with rosemary and honey at 6 percent ABV.
The sun has warmed the rosemary; pick some and fire up the barbie! Spanish for “burnt,” La Socarrada is a real food beer, assertively rosemary flavored, but ready to pair with steak, chicken and just about anything you throw at it. “And nearly everybody likes that savory eucalyptus note rosemary gives,” Merritt says. LaSocarrada.com.
Three more to try: Victory Golden Monkey Belgian-Style Ale 9.5 percent; Brooklyn Sorachi Ace Farmhouse Ale, 7.2 percent; and Delirium Red Belgian Ale 8.5 percent.
You want … to savor the day and bring on the night.
You’re drinking: St. Bernardus Prior 8, a classic abbey-style dubbel from Watou, Belgium, at 8 percent.
Going … going … gone. A bit rich, with deep mahogany color, St. Bernardus Prior 8 is boiled with dark Belgian candy sugar, so you get deep flavors of dried fruits, including prune, fig and raisins. Save it for dessert or, Merritt says, “it provides a nice counterpoint to a cheese course.” SintBernardus.be.
Three more to try: Innis & Gun Oak-Aged Pale Ale, 5.6 percent; Trappistes Rochefort 6 Dubbel Ale, 7.5 percent; and Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock 7.7 percent.
Dog Day Midnight
You want … to cool down with something dark, but not be weighed down in body or alcohol.
You’re drinking: Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Brown Ale at 5.6 percent ABV.
The first American brown ale, Brooklyn Brown is surprisingly light-bodied despite its bitter, roasty flavors—dark, but also light. “So it’s easy to drink after the sun goes down,” Merritt says. “And by a campfire, it doesn’t really matter what color your beer is.” BrooklynBrewery.com.
Three more to try: Czechvar Premium Dark Lager, 5 percent; Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, 5 percent; and Great Basin Outlaw Milk Stout, 5.2 percent.