Ask A Boston Bar Manager: Favorite Summer Beers (Russell House Tavern Edition)

June 4, 2014 6:00 AM

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Sam Gabrielli (Photo from Russell House Tavern)

Sam Gabrielli (Photo from Russell House Tavern)

Let’s face it. A lot of this whole craft beer movement comes down to personal taste. Whether you consider yourself a connoisseur, aficionado, enthusiast, novice or simply don’t care enough to categorize yourself, someone else’s ‘greatest beer in the world’ could just the same fall into your ‘undrinkable brew’ category, and vice versa. Here at CBS Boston, we’ve decided to seize on that reality by reaching out to some of the people responsible for picking the beer that shows up at some of your favorite local watering holes – the stuff you actually drink.

Our first installment consists of picks by Sam Gabrielli of Russell House Tavern. And if you think we’re joking about the whole personal taste thing, check out his wildcard. Take it away, Sam!

Sam Gabrielli (Photo from Russell House Tavern)

Sam Gabrielli (Photo from Russell House Tavern)

Sam Gabrielli
Russell House Tavern
14 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 500-3055
russellhousecambridge.com

In the summer, I like my beer to be similar to lemonade: bright, tart and refreshing. That’s why you’ll see me drinking beers like sour and bitter ales; heffeweizens; saisons; etc. (and maybe even a radler or a shandy). Basically, I don’t want any heavy malts, and I don’t want anything over-the-top hoppy (like a West Coast IPA). But I am going to err with more hop character than malt, for refreshment perceived by sour and bitter characteristics. Give me beers with weird yeast strains fermented in the bottle that make tropical fruits flavors come alive; or infect my beer with some lactobacilius or brettanomyces to give it a bright funk that sends my mouth to flavor country. Or give me a Bud Light Lime… Seriously, nothing beats a really cold Bud Light Lime in your hands sitting in a warm pool watching the sunset… don’t tempt me with a good time.

The Beers:

(Brewery De Ranke/Facebook)

(Brewery De Ranke/Facebook)

Brewery De Ranke: XX Bitter
Bruges, Belgium

XX Bitter or Extra Extra Bitter is a blond, bitter ale containing 6.2% ABV. It’s famous for its very bitter and strong flavor. XX is being made with pale pilsner malt and loads of Brewers Gold and Hallertau hop flowers. A perfect combination that has been nationally and internationally praised. This ale has been a real trendsetter for the current comeback of bitter ales in Belgium.

(White Birch Brewing/Facebook)

(White Birch Brewing/Facebook)

White Birch Brewing: Berliner Weiss
Hooksett, New Hampshire

A pale straw-colored sour German wheat ale brewed with Lactobacilius to create a bright, refreshing interpretation of a classic summer beer in Germany. Low ABV of 5.5% makes this quite sessionable, assuming you’re able to get your hands on more than 1!

(Lost Nation Brewing/Facebook)

(Lost Nation Brewing/Facebook)

Lost Nation Brewing: Gose
Morrisville, VT

An old German beer style from Leipzig, Gose is an unfiltered wheat beer made with 50-60 percent malted wheat, which creates a cloudy yellow color and provides a refreshing crispness and twang. A Gose will have a low hop bitterness and a complementary dryness and spice from the use of ground coriander seeds and a sharpness from the addition of salt. Like Berliner Weisse beers, a Gose will sometimes be laced with various flavored and colored syrups. This is to balance out the addition of lactic acid that is added to the boil.

(Photo from Boulevard Brewing Co.)

(Photo from Boulevard Brewing Co.)

Boulevard Brewing Co.: 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat
Kansas City, MO

With roots in two of today’s most popular brewing styles, 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer is the result of careful cultivation of brewers and cellarmen at Boulevard. Their efforts to craft a hybrid yielded a bumper crop of flavor; a delightfully distinctive ale with the aroma of an IPA and the refreshing taste of a wheat beer.

(Photo from 21st Amendment)

(Photo from 21st Amendment)

21st Amendment: Hell or High Watermelon
San Francisco, CA

This American wheat beer is brewed with real watermelon, for a flavor that’s surprisingly crisp, dry and refreshing — summer in a can. It is basically a classic American wheat beer which undergoes a traditional secondary fermentation using fresh watermelon. A straw-colored, refreshing beer with a kiss of watermelon aroma and flavor.

(Photo from Bud Light)

(Photo from Bud Light)

**Wildcard**
Bud Light Lime
St. Louis, MO

I will drink these when all else fails, and have absolutely no difficulty sleeping at night!!!

Sam Gabrielli loves beer. He’s got a soft spot for craft brews, but can also find appreciation for the mass produced. At Russell House Tavern, Sam serves up local beer on tap, a carefully edited list of bottles, and a cask offering that rotates weekly.

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