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Three Questions About Boston Summer Beverage Trends With Jason Phelps

By Emily Olson
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Photo Credit: (Photo Credit: Margot Phelps, 2010)

Photo Credit: (Photo Credit: Margot Phelps, 2010)

Jason Phelps is an avid home winemaker, a home brewer and author of the Ancient Fire Wine Blog. His love of craft beer stretches back 15 years and has taken him on many adventures. His growing appreciation of wine, both from learning to make it at home and his participation in tastings with the Boston Sommelier Society, continues to challenge him to develop his tasting skills and seek out new styles of wines from around the world to experience. Jason and his wife have won 34 competition medals for their wines, ciders and meads and are active participants in the home & amateur winemaking industry. Jason is an IT consultant by day and lives in southern New Hampshire with his wife. CBSBoston.com sat down with him recently to talk about summer drinking.

What are some summer wine and beer drinking trends and observations?

Summer weather definitely shifts people’s consumption to something lighter. Wheat beers, lighter lagers and pale ales are the clear winners for beers. I just recently made and Orange Wit (Belgian white style with oranges) and American Pale Ale style beers specifically for summer party enjoyment. These beers are flavorful but lighter in body with crisp finishes.

I’ve always thought that carbonation was a key component to summer drinking. Backyard BBQ food can be so diverse and carbonation has a palate cleansing affect that helps with all those flavors and textures.

For wine lovers my statement above should make champagne or sparkling wine a big summer trend. I don’t see it in the events I attend, but I bet it is popular for the same reason beer is. For wines lighter styles also win in the summer. The crispness and lower serving temperature of white wines makes them natural summer drinkers. Aromas of melon, peach, citrus and tropical fruits make for great pairings for the season because those sensations stimulate reflections of summer itself. I do also serve reds in the summer but only if it isn’t too hot and I can keep them cool. The weight of the heavier body of many red wines isn’t a great match for summer heat.

On the flip side real BBQ (pulled pork, ribs, etc.) does pair well with fruity reds like Zinfandel and other red wines made in warm climates.

Do you have a favorite relaxation place in the Boston area for a beverage?

I work in Boston but live in New Hampshire so I am still on a quest to try new places every time I get out in the city. This means the place I often mention is the one I visited last. This time it was Jacob Wirth’s for a pint of Troegs Hopped Up Lager drawn from a cask. I was on my way to the recent American Craft Beer Festival and saw tweets from another festivalgoer that they had stopped in for the same. The beer selection at Wirth’s, both tap and bottle, looks impressive and is something that will surely bring me back.

Do you notice a change in beer versus wine consumption during summer season?

This is a great question, and one I have been thinking a bit about lately. I do see more beer consumption in the summer by people that would technically call themselves wine drinkers. Part of this might be convenience. Beer is easy, you open it and drink it right from the bottle or can. If you aren’t the host you might also find yourself at a party where wine wasn’t planned as an option. Some people a weary of wine getting warm in the summer, which is a fair consideration because wine doesn’t taste good when it is too warm. The point about carbonation form above is worth mentioning here again. You never know what you are going to be eating in the summer and the palate cleansing affect of bubbles in your drink helps keep you ready for the next flavor to come along!

A Southern girl born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Emily Olson is pursuing a master’s degree in gastronomy at Boston University. On the weekends, she can be found at farmer’s markets, wine tastings, and testing new recipes in her kitchen all documented on her blog, What Emily Cooks.

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