By Chris Maza
A confession: I am not a big fan of summer.
Sure, there's a lot to be said about this time of year, but overall, the heat is something I find very tough to deal with.
In the past, also, I dreaded the summer because the vast majority of seasonal beers proved to be watered down, overly citrusy and generally unsatisfying.
While the fact that summer is hot is something I'm just going to have to continue to deal with, I have found lately that more and more breweries are perfecting the art of a good summer beer.
Add Ipswich Ale Brewery's summer selection to the list of brews I will reach for when the temperature is high.
While almost all summer ales will have some measure of citrus tones, specifically from lemon peel, Ipswich has added to that with a good amount of hops, adding a dry hoppiness to the beer that strikes an amazingly strong balance.
Ipswich Summer Ale is also not as light as some other summer beers, but isn't overly heavy, possessing a medium body with good carbonation and a crisp finish.
Available on tap, in 22-ounce bomber bottles, six-packs and 12-packs, Ipswich is readily available throughout this area.
I must admit that I was excited when I first heard about the prospect of a high-end beer and wine store opening up in East Longmeadow at a recent Planning Board meeting and was even happier when the Board of Selectmen approved the licenses for the establishment.
For those of you who missed last week's Reminder
, Richard Caudill has a plan in place to put a shop selling beer, wine and cheese in the shopping center on Harkness Avenue, with a focus on having a diverse selection.
I had an opportunity to sit down briefly with Caudill, the owner of what will be known as "The Beer Shop," who spoke of the variety of beer styles that exist in the U.S. and throughout the world that he hopes to supply to the people in this area.
"I work at Westover Air Force Base and there are people there from all over the U.S. and they talk about the beers they have back at home and there's no place to get them," he said.
In addition to bringing in beer from other parts of the world, Caudill said that the Northeast is a gold mine for quality craft beer that people don't know is there.
"In the Air Force, I was in California for a long time and then I came here and it's a Mecca of beer," he said. "In New England, you have so many good breweries, but you go into your average liquor store and they're just not there."
Caudill said he recognized that this was an area that was relatively devoid of options for people looking for quality beer and wine and hoped to change that.
"You have to drive to Northampton or Easthampton to get a good selection of beer," he said. "You can get some good beers at Table and Vine [in West Springfield] too, but it's not always fresh. Some of my favorite beers that I find there I have to blow dust off."
Caudill added that he had a strong desire to become part of the town and not just another package store.
"I wanted to do something more local, more community oriented," he said.
Caudill said he hopes to open the store by the end of August and added that he hopes those who think they wouldn't like the kind of beer he will carry will stop in.
"There are people who think they only like the popular brands of beers or they say that they just don't like beer," he said. "In reality there are 120 recognized styles of beer and there are more than 2,000 breweries. Odds are they like beer, they just don't like the general consensus of what beer is the stuff that is so derived of taste that it needs to be kept near freezing to drink it."