I’d Tap That: Summer Solstice is a well-balanced ‘cream soda for adults’
Glassware: Cream ales have a very malt-forward aroma, but Summer Solstice has an especially intriguing nose. Glassware that traps this aroma, but also keeps the beer cold is an absolute must. The Willi Becher pub glass is the best choice. A snifter will suffice but may seem a bit much for such a light beer. As with most cream ales, Summer Solstice is a great beer to enjoy straight from the can.
Description: Summer Solstice pours a light copper hue with a light hazy quality and frothy pure white head that leaves a thick layer of lacing on the glass. The aroma is very malt-forward with notes of vanilla, caramel, cream, toffee and sweet corn. The taste follows the nose with vanilla leading the way followed by sweet caramel, cream and toffee. The description may sound like a very sweet beer with a lot of residual sugar, but it is a very well balanced beer. The sweetness does not overpower and instead imparts a great depth of flavor without becoming sickeningly sweet. The medium-full body and moderate carbonation create a beer that is light and refreshing. Anderson Valley describes Summer Solstice as cream soda for adults. This description is very apt, and after one sip you will agree. This is one of the best summer seasonal beers and is a great beer to have in your fridge during the warm summer months!
Food pairing: Cream ales are lighter than most beers, which typically can limit the range of dishes that can be paired. However, this is not the case with Summer Solstice. The creamy quality and flavor profile can withstand many flavors. Light appetizers such as shrimp make a wonderful match with this beer. The natural citrus notes in the shrimp melt into the creamy, sweet qualities of Summer Solstice and add a flavor depth to the beer. This is a summer beer, and, as with any good summer beer, it goes perfectly with summertime foods.
Barbeque favorites such as hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs and salmon are perfect with this beer. The cream soda characteristics of this beer make it the perfect Friday night beer. As with any great Friday night, pizza piled high with toppings is a must, and Summer Solstice is the perfect accompaniment. The sweet malts have enough body to quell any spice notes, and the crisp qualities cleanse the palate clean. The most surprising quality of this beer is the ability to pair well with desserts. Carrot cake, cheesecake, peach cobbler and vanilla bean ice cream are phenomenal pairings with Summer Solstice and a great way to end any summer evening.
The final word: The cream ale style has long been overshadowed by more popular styles like the American IPA, but it is a must try style for any beer lover. Anderson Valley’s Summer Solstice is certainly one of the best cream ales on the market. The most intriguing thing about this beer is the resemblance to a cream soda. This statement may bring about thoughts of overly sweet alcoholic sodas that have been hitting the market but Summer Solstice has nothing in common with those beers. The cream soda aspects are pleasant, light, and refreshing with hints of sweetness and an overall perfect balance. This is a beer that both macro and micro beer drinkers could easily love. If you have not tried this beer, do it now before summer is over!
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.
Brewer: Anderson Valley Brewing Company
Beer: Summer Solstice
Style: Cream ale
ABV: 5 percent