It's been rather a grey summer so far this year in Southern California. I suppose then it makes sense that on one of our few days of sun I break out this new summer seasonal called, Twilight.
I've always been a bit dubious of summer seasonals; it's a hard beer to nail down because it seems somewhat unnecessary as a style. Indulge me for a moment. Think of a Winter seasonal – all sorts of comforting winter flavors come to mind: vanilla, spruce tips, cinnamon, cloves, and the list goes on. It's a fairly identifiable and an easy beer to place in the spectrum of flavor. You could say similar things for Fall and Spring with pumpkins and rose petals respectively. But Summer doesn't have quite the same immediate connotation of easily compatible flavors. For me, Summer flavors are all about fresh vegetables like tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, and string beans; blistering hot days with sweet, ice-cold drinks to cool you off and luke warm nights where you can't seem to fall asleep; day trips into the mountains or beaches where you play so long by the time you get home you simply pass out from exhaustion. That may not be everybody's idea of summer, but surely you understand how the flavors immediately brought to life are far less tangible from a beer maker's perspective. When I think of Summer, I think of a refreshing drink that will cool me off under the hot sun. The problem is, that's the very essence of of most lagers and lighter ales! If you're working up a sweat, there are a multitude of kolschs, pilsners, hefeweizens, pales, IPAs, ESBs, Doppelbocks, and other lagers, all served cold, which would be a great source of refreshment. There isn't really a need for an addition of seemingly nonexistent flavors to better them. You could probably make a strong argument for a flavoring of one of these styles which you then declare as a Summer Seasonal, but I think Summer Seasonals as an actual style have a lot of chips stacked against them from the get go. But on to the beer...
It pours between golden and orange with minimal head, however, very nice lacing. Aromas are of heavy grains, infused with a tinge of orange. The mouthfeel is ever so slightly metallic, leaving a small bit of residue from its practically nonexistent body. What can be noticed at all of a front end is a bitter astringency (think white part of an orange bitterness, not hop bitterness), but is like a flash in the pan of taste before it converts to a heavy dose of amarillo hops. The hops are a nice touch and the taste evolves well, but it does leave the beer incredibly lopsided.
It's a lovely thought by Deschutes, who I've come to respect quite a bit over the past year, but as I've pointed out, a task perhaps doomed to fail from the start. They were right to keep the alcohol content low at 5%, but with heavy aroma of grains, it doesn't feel like I'm drinking a low gravity beer and as a result the beverage is neither thirst quenching nor perceived as light, even despite it's very hollow body. Perhaps we'll have to wait for another beer to exemplify the Summer Seasonal, and until then, I'll enjoy another IPA on the beautiful summer day.