Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week": Readers' Choice #1

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jun 6, 2007 4:00PM

2007_06_BOTWRC.jpgLast month we wrote that all of the June "BotW" selections will be based upon reader suggestions, and encouraged your input. We've sifted through the e-mails, wrote back to many of you (with apologies for those to whom we didn't reply; we received a lot of recommendations). If there's anything we've learned in our time at Chicagoist, it's that you readers take your beer seriously. Not quite as seriously as debating whether the tapas restaurant that opened three doors from your apartment is a foreboding sign of gentrification, but still quite serious.

Our first selection was one of two beers recommended by more than one reader. Reader Doug Fawley wrote that a German friend of his "hails this as a fine example" of a classic German beer style, while reader "D H" says that it's his current favorite, "a refreshing change of pace" from what he normally drinks. It's locally brewed, available only through the hot months, and certainly worthy of honoring as a "BotW" selection.

The beer? Goose Island Summertime kölsch.

2007_06_botw23.jpgKölsch beers, popular in Cologne, are refreshing clear golden ales with lots of fruit on the nose, with a hop flavor that isn't as powerful as a pilsner. Traditionally, a kölsch is poured into a thin cylindrical glass known as a stange. However, here in the States, stanges are often used as marketing gimmicks for pilsners - Paulaner and Trumer being two examples that come to mind. What we wind up seeing is Summertime being poured in a standard pub pint, because we're a nation of gluttons. If you frequent a bar that stocks stanges, ask your bartender to pour Summertime in one, and see the immediate difference in flavor versus a pint. Because of the shape of a stange, you get more head on the beer, which isn't a bad thing. Slow pour foam protects beer from oxygen, which can break down the flavors.

Goose Island Summertime pours with a craggy head and lots of esters on the nose. The flavor of this beer starts off subtle. Then the balance of malt and hops combine to make this a smooth drinking beer. Coupled with the citrus of the yeast used, Summertime is reminiscent of a fruity pilsner. The finish of this beer is crisp, leaving you wanting another pint. In the dog days of August, this is the perfect beer to help you ward off the heat and humidity.

Goose Island Summertime is an easily drinkable beer. "D H" wrote that his favorite beer is "312" Wheat Ale. Certainly the two beers look similar, but the flavors are two completely different beasts. "312" has a bright spice coupled with citrus on the palate, and finishes slightly sour and dry. As we wrote last month, it's a gateway beer, but not necessary for leading you to Summertime. Doug and "D H" have picked a good selection for you, one worthy of designation as Chicagoist's "Beer of the Week."