Review: Baxter Summer Swelter

Review of Baxter Summer Swelter from Baxter Brewing Co. in Lewiston, ME.

Beer Type: Summer Ale  ABV: 4.7%  Tried from can.

Their Description: “Our first unfiltered offering, Summer Swelter Ale is the perfect warm weather beer! Summer Swelter Ale is light and refreshing while still keeping your taste buds interested. The malt base features a hefty dose of wheat for a big, fluffy head and a soft, round body, yet keeps the beer drinkable even during the dog days. The light malt character is more than balanced by a blend of citrusy American hops, giving Swelter a crisp bitterness without being overpowering. The hoppy citrus aroma complements the ingredients that make this beer so unique: lemon and lime peel, Kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass provide a subtle yet unmistakable floral nose and just a touch of bracing tartness, taking the refreshment of Swelter to the next level.”

The Reality: It does have a light fresh floral scent with a touch of lemongrass, and a very light golden color. There is a faint flavor of malt present at the beginning of a sip but it is overwhelmed quickly by the “citrusy American hops” that provide “crisp bitterness”. They did warn us that the light malt character was “more than balanced” by the hops, which I guess means unbalanced. There is a slight citrus undertone but I wouldn’t call it “bracing tartness”. It has a hoppy finish and bitter aftertaste that could be interpreted as refreshing, and doesn’t stay too long. It drinks fairly light and does make for a good warm weather beer.

Final Verdict: This beer really drinks more like a session IPA than a Summer Ale. The wheat is lost, and I was really hoping to pick up more of the “lemon and lime peel, Kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass”, because that sounded really good, but in the end the citrusy hops dominate the other elements. As far as session IPAs go, this would be a pretty decent beer, and if you like session IPAs you may want to give it a try. There’s no doubt this beer is refreshing on a hot day, and is light enough to drink several in one sitting, but I bought it hoping for more balance. Also they could have improved this beer by putting some real “summer swelter” on the packaging… AKA Summer Glau. I don’t think anyone would’ve complained about that…