Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

July 23, 2008

Beer Diary:

Clip That Grass, Then Raise A Glass

Ten solid Midwest lawnmower beers to whet your whistle this summer.
by Jill Jaracz

Jill Jaracz is not a fruit, but she loves a good fruit beer. And wheats and wits. Catch her other writing at The Diva Platform, Prevention Magazine's Buzz Blogs, and Gapers Block.
Contact Jill»
Summertime means lawn and garden time, and by now you?ve probably spent a couple hundred man hours working on yours and making it perfect. Maybe you enjoy the blood, sweat, and tears you put into your land, but maybe you do it just so you can have another excuse to drink.

When you?re done with the Great American Chore, you need a Great Midwestern Beer to cool off. This type of beer is commonly nicknamed a ?lawnmower beer? because it?s typically lighter and has a lower ABV. It helps you hydrate, and it should get you schnockered after a couple of sips.

Surprisingly though, a good lawnmower beer can be difficult to perfect. A brewer has to get the proper balance between water and flavor, and a lot of times you end up with beers that are just too watery or beers that are too heavy for drinking after sweating in the sun for a few hours.

Luckily, Midwest brewers offer many good options for summertime drinking. In no particular order, here?s my list of solid lawnmower beers, and in my book, a solid lawnmower beer usually gets 3-4 mugs in a review. It?s not necessarily the most stellar beer in the cooler, but it?s still highly enjoyable.

1. New Glarus Totally Naked, New Glarus Brewing Company, Wisconsin
This beer is light and crisp without being too watery. It?s got just enough flavor to whet your whistle and doesn?t require a lot of effort to drink.

2. Atwater Hell, Atwater Block Brewery, Michigan
I?ve had this Detroit beer a couple of different times, with about a year in between tastings. The first time it was light and crisp and had a wonderful zesty mouth feel to it. This past spring I got another batch, and although that sparkle I loved was missing, it was still a decent hot weather beer.

3. Boulevard Zon, Boulevard Brewing Company, Missouri
This Belgian wit style packs a lot of flavor without hitting you over the head with a high ABV. For those of you who like fruit and herb flavors in your beer, this one?s for you. It?s quite possibly my favorite lawnmower beer.

4. Walter Payton Honey Wheat Ale, America?s Brewing Company, Illinois
I went through a four-pack of this beer so quickly I surprised myself. This is a nice wheat ale that?s got just enough honey to balance out the taste. The flavor doesn?t overpower you, and it?s incredibly refreshing.

5. New Holland Zoomer, New Holland Brewing Company, Michigan
One look at this beer, and you know it?s a lawnmower. It?s such a bright yellow that you almost have to shield your eyes from it, yet it?s like drinking summer out of a bottle.

6. Two Brothers Ebel?s Weiss, Two Brothers Brewing Company, Illinois
If you like a good hefeweizen to cool off with, you can?t go wrong with this beer. It?s nice and creamy and has some wonderful banana and clove notes that accent its flavor.

7. Upland Brewing Wheat Ale, Upland Brewing Company, Indiana
This wheat beer comes with a big spicy scent, and the spices hit your mouth in a big way. However, the beer behind it doesn?t smack you in the face. Due to that lack of big mouth feel, it goes down pretty smoothly and is more refreshing in warmer weather.

8. Berghoff Solstice Wit, Joseph Huber Brewing Company, Wisconsin
This wit beer has a hint of orange and coriander that gives it some subtle flavor that?s nice to down on a hot day. It?s not an overwhelming beer, but it?s pretty decent.

9. Bells Oberon Ale/Kalamazoo Wheat, Bell?s Brewery, Inc., Michigan
Didn?t think I was going to mention Oberon? It?s only got a picture of the sun on the bottle! In my opinion, Oberon is almost too heavy to be called a lawnmower beer. At 6.0 percent ABV it does pack a pretty big punch, but it still makes for good drinking in early summer. Kalamazoo Wheat is a version tailored for the Illinois market (part of that whole Bell?s pulling out of Illinois distribution fiasco), and it?s equally as good. Full flavor on both of these, so you?ll have to pace yourself in the heat, but they?re incredibly hard to resist.

OK, I lied. I don?t have a tenth. But I want to know your favorite Midwestern lawnmower beer, because if I look at all the fine breweries in this part of the country, I imagine I?m missing something good. What else is great for drinking away a hot summer day?

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

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