Monday, June 11, 2007

Summer afternoon three-way

We've happily enjoyed the gluten-free thing for the past couple of months, feeling almost entirely gas-free and lightfooted. But now that summer is here... well, there is simply no substitute for an ice cold beer on a shady patio. If it's just for yourself, you buy "lawnmowing beer," cheap American lager in a can. If it's for friends and one of those endless summer hangouts until after sundown, you treat them right with microbrews and European oddities. (Stay away from the gluten-free beers. Noble idea, but roughly the equivalent of a Not-Dog on the grill.)

This past weekend, we scored a trifecta of great local beers that hit the summer spot like no other beers: Schell's Sommerfest, Summit's Scandia--and breaking the alliterative tie--Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat.

All three just taste like uncapped sunshine, but if we could only have one bottle and somehow keep it cold for those magic hours from three to eight, it would be the last. We're not big fans of the vast array of Leinie's flavored beers, but Sunset Wheat has an unusual and spicy bite of cardamom or something, which beautifully compliments the bubblegummy flavor of a good wheat beer.

If you want to get a taste of heaven right at the gates of paradise, the Leinie Lodge over in Chippewa Falls is open this Saturday for the 4th Annual Leinie Lodge Family Reunion. (Hint: You're an honorary member of family if you care enough to travel to the brewery.)

Leinenkugle's Family Reunion,