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Beer of the Week: Fun for the Fourth


In case you hadn’t noticed, it is hot outside. Big-time hot. Triple-digit hot. Gimme-another-cold-one hot. And it probably won’t get any cooler by the time the Fourth of July rolls around.

The American craft brew scene is also hot, and brewers in this country are creating  some of the best beers in the world today. Some are complex, layered treats worthy of great contemplation. But more than a few just settle for simple excellence. The best thing  to find out how exciting these bottlings are is to go out and pop a few caps.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started, five American beers that’ll make you feel all patriotic because of how good they are.

Fat Tire Amber Ale —Remember the aroma of Mom’s homemade biscuits when they were served with honey on the side? That memory will flash past when you smell this beaut. The finish lingers long in a gratifying way.

Real Ale Firemans #4 Blonde Ale — Brewed up the road in Blanco, this American blonde is a light treat with a great lemony edge that adds to its refreshing qualities in the summer heat. It goes down so easy. Who could want anything more?

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale — Treat your nose to an intoxicating bouquet of floral hops blended to perfection with sweet malt, an apple dipped in caramel and a touch of citrus. Then drink all that down in a well-rounded brew that finishes on a pleasantly hoppy note. Pure liquid joy.

Ranger Creek Mesquite Smoked Porter — The name lets you know to expect some smokiness, but that’s not all you’ll find when you pour this San Antonio brew. There’s a mellow quality with a sweet, smooth chocolate quality that adds a richness that’s perfect for barbecue or whatever you’re having at a picnic.

Dogfish 60 Minute IPA — When you see the IPA on a label, your first thought, of course, is of hops, all floral and bitter. They’re quite evident here, but that’s not all that makes this beer special. You get a good citrus quality as well as a piney note that just adds to the burn as it goes down.

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Beer of the Week: Fat Tire Amber Ale


The first beer of vacation is always the most enjoyable. The promise of adventures to come is loaded into each sip as its bubbles happily pop on their way down your throat, urging you on to new frontiers.

And happy is just how I feel as I sit in the Alamo City Microbrewery & Grill at the San Antonio International Airport with a pint in front of me.

The copper color gleams in the dim room and I have to hold it up to my laptop screen to get a good look at its deep, rich beauty.

There isn’t much of a head, and only the tiniest ring of lacey foam around the top edge. It was probably the way the beer was siphoned from the tap, slow and steady against the glass to avoid as much head as possible. At $6.75 a pint (airport prices, remember), the customers are  sure to want every last drop that will fit in the glass.

A sniff doesn’t reveal much  beyond a touch of hops, malt and the tiniest bit of fruit. But a sip, followed by a big gulp, reminds me of why this beer from the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colo., is such a pleasure, especially when nothing else is pressing for the rest of the day. The hops and malt, with a pleasant touch of caramel, become much more robust, with the bitterness from the hops disappearing mid-palate into a refreshing, almost water-like flavor, as if it were tapping into some Colorado mountain spring. (It’s not watery, mind you; but it is clean and, to someone as tired as I am, revivifying.)

The finish is odd, yet in a good way. A pleasant hoppy bitterness mixed with a coolly metalic element isn’t readily apparent, yet it makes itself known after a bit and lingers long after the first pint is finished.

You could pair this beer with plenty of foods, from Buffalo wings and chips with salsa, even a habanero salsa, to a mixed grill platter. The New Belgium website offers a recipe for ColoRouge Beer Cheese Soup that would be great any time of year.

Well, one escape has led to another. It’s almost time to board …

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