Bitter? First Draft isn't but a trio of summer beers we sampled was. But don't be thrown by the promise of full-flavored hops, which can be an important, balancing ingredient of many microbrews.

Bitter?

First Draft isn’t, but a trio of summer beers we sampled was. But don’t be thrown by the promise of full-flavored hops, which can be an important, balancing ingredient of many microbrews.

Check out the following:

Hazed & Infused
“Hazed & Infused” almost hops out of the bottle. You know you’ve popped the top, as the aroma is hard to miss. If you aren’t sure about hops, this beer will give you a good introduction to the aroma and bitter taste in a variety of flavors. The taste and smell are, well, zing, bam, bing refreshing. The flavor is strong, but not unpleasant, and the taste is dry and somewhat tart. The strength makes this a beer that takes some time to get through.

Though slow in drinkability, it is not a casual drink. It makes a statement with hops that the drinker can either agree with and consider for a long time or simply move on. Locally, six packs are available around the $7.50 price.

The brew comes from the Boulder Beer Company, which calls itself “Colorado’s first microbrewery.” Boulder Beer has 10 brews this summer and each has a somewhat unique name that hints at the flavor of each. From “Sweaty Betty Blonde” to “Killer Penguin Barleywine,” the marketing begins with each batch of these Boulder beauties.

A visit to the Web site of the Boulder Beer Company is as much fun as taste testing the products. There is a very unique brewery tour with what looks like maybe an old Atari video game machine as the device you use to move through the presentation.

Of course First Draft loves how the brewery was started by two University of Colorado Boulder professors in a brew house that also had a few goats roaming around in it. The only way this could be any better is if it were two Colorado State University professors who started this in the heart of Colorado microbrew heaven, Fort Collins. Go Rams.

Moondog ESB
Some brewers and their brewmasters hit the spot almost every time they create something new. I think that might be true with Great Lakes Brewing Company. This brand has a variety of taste-friendly brews that always seem to impress. The Dortmunder Gold is one of the smoothest most pleasant tastes around and has been recognized for its flavor and quality with a variety of awards over many years.

First Draft had the chance to try Moondog ESB, which is nearing the end of its summer run of availability from Great Lakes. If you can find a six pack, consider snapping it up. There still are some on the shelves around town.

Great Lakes is based in Cleveland and Moondog ESB is named after 1952 Moondog Coronation Ball held at the Cleveland Arena. Some consider this event to be the first “rock and roll” concert, not surprising in the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It is a very pale beer with a low alcohol content that is surprising in its flavor – fresh and light, with firm hops that don’t overpower.

It’s pleasant and enjoyable – what summer brews are all about, made for a warm night on the deck, listening to some Michael Stanley Band, if you’re in a Cleveland state of mind, or maybe McGuffey Lane to bring back fond memories of Columbus’ musical past.

Six packs of Moondog ESB are priced just under $8.

Full Sail Pale Ale
Oh the smell and taste of fresh hops. Full Sail, an employee-owned brewer, has the balance right with this beer. They immediately stand at full attention but relax on the palate, which causes you to pause and enjoy the flavor with each sip. The taste is complemented with a nicely sweet edge. There’s enough complexity to keep your interest.

And the company’s attitude and story make it a good example of what makes a microbrewery special.

Full Sail promotes heavily that it is independent and employee-owned. In addition, it has been recognized for its business practices that support sustainability through efficient use of energy with renewable energy technologies. It does this while supporting economic growth that limits harm to the environment. The local environment of Hood River, Oregon is featured. On the company web site, you can view the Columbia River Gorge with a live camera shot that refreshes every 30 seconds…about as often as the Full Sail Pale Ale does.

This is another tasty beer for the summer. It leans more to the hoppy side and has a very slight bitter aftertaste. Not the smoothest of this week’s picks, but also not the craziest. Full Sail Pale Ale is a silver medal winner at the World Beer Championships. Locally, six packs can be found around $7.50.

Paul Carringer is owner of Caring Marketing Solutions – www.caringmarketing.com.