With Memorial Day behind us and tourists already flocking to the bars from all four corners of the world, it is clear that the summer season is almost here. And even as Central Oregon Beer Week presses on (see you guys at the Three Creeks factory opening on Friday, hopefully!), breweries across the region are ramping up production on beers meant to go with barbecues, hikes, and hardcore yard-work sessions.
Leading the lineup so far is the new 2015 edition of 3-Way IPA, a collaboration brew between Fort George in Astoria, Pfriem in Hood River, and Georgetown Brewing in Seattle. It's the third year Fort George has organized a three-brewer team-up IPA for the summer, and this time around, and after going on tap at Crow's Feet Commons last weekend, it's debuting in cans across Central Oregon this week.
How is it? Mega-hoppy, yet quite approachable. It clocks in at a very reasonable 5.7% alcohol by volume, but still shares many traits from last year's 3-Way—heavy hop aroma, a ton of Citra hop-driven tropical flavor, and a bit of fruitiness at the end. A highly refreshing summer IPA, in other words. (If you want a more intense seasonal IPA, look for 3-Headed Hop Monster on tap, a 9.5% beast of a collaboration from Boneyard, Barley Brown's, and Melvin Brewing in Wyoming.)
Not into hops? No problem. Also making a big comeback is Swill, the soda pop-like summer beer first introduced by 10 Barrel in 2013. Swill, a type of radler (a German-style mix of beer and fruit juice), was infamously recalled last year after unintended refermentation in the bottle turned bombers into impromptu, fizzling hand grenades. Now it's back, with last year's grapefruit kick replaced by a thirst-quenching lemon kick. It's a beer, and a style, that people tend to either love or hate—some can't get enough, others compare it to drinking flat Orangina—but with the hot summer looming, pairing a Swill with brats and chips could make the perfect outdoor lunch.