Beer sales heat up

Published 12:01 pm Saturday, June 6, 2009

Summer is all about change. The weather warms up, the shorts come out and a salad and barbecue trump a hotdish and soup.

It’s the same with beer.

In the summertime, beer drinkers tend to favor the lighter varieties and leave the heavier selections for the chilly nights and the hockey games.

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In Austin, residents are more than covered locally and can find everything from seasonal selections to light beers sold all-year round.

“Austin’s a pretty big beer town,” said Brian Wahlstrom, manager at Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits. “We sell a lot of beer. Our beer sales are strong, but it always kicks up in the summertime.”

Seasonal beers include Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, a popular lemonade beer that’s available both on tap and by the bottle.

“That’s a big deal in the summertime,” Wahlstrom said. “I think women buy a little more of it, but it’s popular with both men and women.”

Other seasonal options include the summer sampler pack from Samuel Adams and several offerings from the August Schell Brewing Co. in New Ulm.

This summer, Schell features a Kolsch-style beer called Zommerfest that has a lighter, pilsner feel to it; a Bavarian wheat beer known as Hefeweizen; and a lager called Lakemaid.

“We see the American lager and the light lagers increase probably a third in the summer months,” said Ted Marti, president of the August Schell Brewing Co. “That’s because people are active and out and about more compared to the wintertime.”

Lakemaid is in its second year at Schell, and Marti described it as a fishing beer with great drinkability.

“Fishing, drinking and boating shouldn’t go together, but it’s an after the fish celebratory beer,” he said.

For Wahlstrom, the ideal summer beer is simple.

“Light bodied, not complicated, with a little bit of lemon or lime in it and ice cold,” he said.

Light beers offered all-year long include Corona Extra, Red Stripe Jamaican Lager, Landshark from the Margaritaville Brewing Co. and Bud Light Lime.

And then there’s the diehard beer drinkers, who favor the dark beers no matter what month it is.

“The Guinness drinkers are going to still drink Guinness,” said Tim Ball, co-owner of the B&J Bar and Grill in Austin.