We know all too well about the “dog days of summer” around here. You know — those late-summer weeks when everyone and everything seems to annoy you, brought on mostly by the searing heat. I call it air-conditioned cabin fever.
In John Brady’s 1813 “Clavis Calendarium,” he called the dog days as a time “when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics and (frenzies).”
Thankfully, we have a cure for such maladies: cold beer. Sometimes it’s just the thing to take the edge off the heat, the clamor of the kids, the boss. Here’s a toast to that ice-cold Corona, a pinch of salt and a twist of lime.
But if you’re going to pop just one or two, make it a good one. Numerous good pubs surround us. A few of my favorites include Rula Bula and Gordon Biersch in Tempe, BJ’s Brewhouse in Chandler, and Sonora Brewhouse and George and Dragon in Phoenix. These hot spots either make their own beers or procure the best of the best.
And if you plan to have company over, or just want to keep a six- or 12-pack on hand at home, I have some thoughts there as well. Below are my six favorite beers of all time — a dream six-pack, if you will. All are widely available, and cost about $8 for six 12-ounce bottles.
Stella Artois: A lighter-style pilsner lager from Belgium and for my money, one of the most drinkable beers on the planet. I love this stuff. Many good restaurants and bars will also have Stella on tap. Refreshing on its own.
Tsingtao: The brewery was founded by German immigrants to China in the early 1900s and is reflected in the crisp, slightly malty flavor. Pure spring water from China’s Laoshan region enhances its drinkability. Serve with spicy dishes.
Carta Blanca: Everyone thinks Corona when they consider Mexican beer, but Carta Blanca is my fave from south of the border. Carta Blanca is classified as a pilsner and tastes clean, light and refreshing. Whip up a batch of guacamole and chips and let the games begin.
Tecate Cerveza: We discovered this namesake border town years ago on the way to San Diego and fell in love with the beer. This is our “house” beer when guests come over. The beer is amber-colored and smooth. Pair with a frozen mug and a wedge of lime for ideal poolside refreshment.
Kilt Lifter: Yes, the Tempe classic from Four Peaks Brewing Co. is what I reach for when I want something more flavorful and powerful. The strong Scottish-style ale exudes malty-sweet goodness and a cool local vibe. Best to sip on-site at its Tempe or Scottsdale locations, but six-packs are available at retailers like AJ’s Fine Foods.
Singha: A friend of mine in California turned me onto this premium lager from Thailand years ago while we dined on a curry dish. The full-bodied, barley malt lager with strong hoppy characteristics nicely countered the heat of the dish. I look for it every chance I can, at restaurants and to go.
Chill any of these beers down and take the edge off the last few “dog days” of summer. From Brady’s description in “Clavis Calendarium,” it sounds like he could have used a cold one.