Summer brews

Breckenridge Brew. Lemon Raz Shandy. India Pale Ale. Saison Farmhouse.

That’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to craft brews or microbrews. Most of the craft breweries will develop and produce seasonal varieties, including summer beers.

Bill Campbell, 60, and his wife, Diane, 62, both of Owego, N.Y., were having dinner with their daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth Campbell-Maleke, 30, pastor of the Presbyterian churches in Williamstown and Waverly, W.Va., and Raymond Maleke, a freelance minister at The Galley in downtown Marietta this week, sampling some of the season’s lighter, fruitier beer options.

“I normally start with hoppier beers and move to sweeter ones,” Bill Campbell said. “I start with an India Pale Ale, then a lager, then an ale or ale stout.”

Campbell said he spent most of his life drinking American beers such as Budweiser, and then decided he was going to spend the rest of it drinking something of a better quality, from the more than 1,100 microbreweries across the U.S.

“I’m not much of a beer-drinker,” Diane Campbell said, sipping her drink of choice, Stella Artois. “He doesn’t like the traditional American beers. He likes the craft beers.”

According to the Brewers Association, as of March, the U.S. boasted 1,124 brewpubs, 1,139 microbreweries, 97 regional craft breweries and just 56 non-craft breweries. Beer Marketer’s Insight, a trade publication, also reports the number of barrels shipped have more than doubled. Craft beer now makes up almost 7 percent of the slow-growing American beer market.

In fact, during late June’s Putnam County Fair in Ottawa in northwest Ohio, the fair’s first homebrewed beer competition took place. Entries were judged based on aroma, appearance, flavor, body and drinkability.

Tony Styer, who has co-owned the Marietta Brewing Company with his wife, Dana, since 2010, said about 200 microbreweries still are growing in Ohio.

“A lot of people are starting to home brew,” Styer said. “When you develop a palate (for the high-end beers), Budweiser’s not going to cut it.”

One customer who hasn’t jumped on the craft beer bandwagon is Tim January, 53, of Lewisville, in town to do some contract work. He said Pabst Blue Ribbon has always been his brand. Although he has tried the other stuff, he always goes back to PBR.

Stephanie Schriner, 34, of Parkersburg, a Galley employee, said distributors will have several seasonals from which to chose, including summertime Saison Farmhouse, Pear Sire and Steeple beer.

“It sounds like an alcoholic Fresca,” Schriner said, hoping she could try it soon. She described most summer beers as being fruity or wheat based.

Styer said a summer beer is a light, easy-drinking beer you can drink in the heat.

Chris Hopkins, a brewmaster with 12 years of experience, says when he decides to make a beer, he’s probably made it before and most likely it will turn out to be a favorite, according to Styer.

The brewery has a seven-barrel system, which means it can make 217 gallons at a time.

“That’s a lot of beer to mess up,” Styer said. “He has the ability to brew small batches before we go big time with it.”

Ideas from customers, what Hopkins has made and what is gaining in popularity outside the doors of the restaurant all go into developing a new style of beer, Styer said.

Among all the beers, India Pale Ale is by far the most popular, he said.

The IPA is brewed with a lot of hops, Styer said, to preserve it during the long ocean voyages between England and India.

The three summer brews The Marietta Brewing Company has on tap include George’s first, a crisp light ale, Raspberry Wheat, which is available all year but sees a spike in the summer months, and Lemon Raz Shandy, a raspberry-based beer infused with a carbonated lemon mix. The Jackie O’ amber also is good for summer drinking, Styer said.