Beer Exploration of the Week – Summer Sips

As you can tell, it’s been well over a year since my last beer exploration.

No, I am not saying it’s been over a year since I’ve had a beer – who do you think I am?! I just haven’t documented it.

The past year has flown by and I really didn’t get a chance to stop and smell the roses (or, better put, stop and taste the beer). I spent a summer in Europe, enjoyed my last semester of college, graduated and jumped right into the working world! With many craft beers enjoyed throughout the last year, I unfortunately left this hobby astray.

With that said, let’s jump right into it. I took note of a few summer sips I enjoyed (many times) this summer. I leave you at the end of each beer with my Sip Score.

 Sip Score rating breakdown [1 being the worst, 5 being the best]

1. Nope. Never. Don’t ever drink this (This is in my personal opinion. I do appreciate good beer, even if it’s not for me).

2. Not my cup of tea, but probably someone else’s. 

3. Indifferent about it. Not amazing but not terrible. Drinkable. 

4. Great flavor, would definitely drink again.

5. Mind. Blown. Immediately adding to my “favorite beers of all time” list. 


Summer Sip #1: New Belgium Summer Helles


BeerBlog1I tried this for the first time at JL Beers in Minneapolis. If you haven’t been to JL Beers before, I highly recommend it. The burgers are outstanding and the vibe is really cool. Plus, they have great craft beer on tap!

In awe of their extensive beer list, I knew I had to make a snap decision, otherwise I would never make a decision. New Belgium has never really been on my list as a favorite brewery, I have tried quite a few of their craft beers and didn’t find anything that stuck out significantly. But, I had to give it another shot. I was immediately sold when the word summer was in the name.

So here are my initial thoughts upon trying it:

Light, airy and very refreshing but not as much flavor as I have tasted in other summer beers. 

Here is what the beer experts say from the world wide web:

“The aroma is fresh grains and honey among a spicy – herbal twang”


Summer Helles

Am I missing something here? Guess I don’t possess the delicate tastebuds of a craft beer connoisseur quite yet. 🙂

I don’t think I would get it again, but it was still a decent beer.

Sip Score: 3 sips out of 5 


Summer Sip #2: Finnegans Blonde Ale


This beer is especially near and dear to my heart because I am part of Team Finnegans and volunteer in my free time to help educate beer lovers everywhere about the amazing work Finnegans does.

Finnegans is a non-profit brewery. It’s one-of-a-kind mission and branding had me eager to get involved. I attended a Sampling Saint meeting where I learned all about the art of sampling beer and spreading the mission “turing beer into food”. That’s where I first tried Finnegans Blonde Ale, but didn’t quite get a sense for it’s exquisite taste until I bought my own six-pack later that week.

My reaction to it, while taking a few key terms from the Finnegans description:

Finnegans Blonde Ale is light-bodied ale with hints of floral and citrus notes. It’s light and extremely refreshing. It’s one of those beers that makes you go “ahhh” after you take a few sips.

Sadly, the reviews I found on the beer were far from positive. They are clearly amateurs:

“Pours golden with a thick head. A very faint and slightly sweet aroma. Smells like a light beer. Very light tasting. Very Miller Lite-like. Another miss by Finnegans… Just not much here to enjoy”

Don’t worry Finnegans, I got your back. Your beer rocks. 

Sip Score: 4.5 sips out of 5 


Summer Sip #3: Surly CynicAle 

Lastly, I bring you a beer that comes from a brewery with a stellar reputation. Nothing but positive reviews float in the graces of Surly Brewery Company. You probably recognize, and have enjoyed Surly Furious or Surly Bender if you are an avid drinker of craft beer. Today, however, I am going to be telling you about my delicious experience with Surly CynicAle.

Surly Blog1When I first heard about Surly, I was like – what’s all the fuss about? Then I tried a (warm) Surly Bender at a college party and resented the beer thereafter. Well, after spending a summer in England acclimating to traditional room-temperature beer all while expanding my horizons with different beers back home, I came to terms with the fact that Surly Brewery Company is simply the greatest.

I actually applied for a job at Surly a few months ago. I was literally jumping up and down when I saw they were in need for an Event Manager. I was like, HELLO – I AM YOUR GIRL. Sadly, I was told I wasn’t qualified for the position. Which I kind of expected. No hard feelings, I still love the beer. One of these days I will combine my love for craft beer & event management in some way, shape, or form and make a dream job out of it.

Enough rambling, let’s get to the tasting experience.

This beer really kicks you with flavor at first sip. It’s wonderful:

It had some floral notes and a slight hop, I also noticed something along the lines of nutmeg or cinnamon. A very good “savor every sip” beer with a strong, malty finish. 

So let’s compare my observations to how Surly markets this beer:

French malted barley, English oats and Belgian yeast create honey and black pepper flavors. Lively Slovenian hops provide the floral, apricot and peach notes

I caught a few of the key flavors on my own, self-five! All around, it was a great beer. One of those beers, however, that you sip and really enjoy. It’s a beer that says “I’m an adult and I am drinking an adult beer.” I highly recommend this brew for those who are fairly new to the craft beer scene, and want to be a little adventurous.

Sip Score: 4 sips out of 5 

Surly Blog2


So what’s my next beer exploration? Oktoberfest and autumn ales and pumpkin ales, oh my! My favorite time of year for beer. 🙂


Until next time – Cheers!


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