Suds With Securb: Lawnmower Beers 101


I headed out his morning to pickup a twelve pack of beer and a couple of bags of grass. Even up here in cold climate New Hampshire grass isn’t that hard to come by. After some debate and with the desired product in hand, Carl Spackler’s voice instantly popped in my head. “This is a hybrid. This is a cross of Bluegrass–Kentucky Bluegrass, Featherbed Bench, and Northern California Sinsemilla. The amazing stuff about this is that you can play 36 holes on it in the afternoon, take it home and just get stoned to the bejeezus belt that night on this stuff.”

If you didn’t figure it out yet I didn’t pick up a bag of low grade Mexican or a bag of skunk bud from the skate punks down the street. No, I scored three bags of high-grade ryegrass to reseed my lawn.

I know some of you are wondering if I am going to go on some kind of Martha Stewart-like gardening rant. The only way Martha Stewart could ever be mentioned in my column is if I was writing about the best fruit cocktail to use in jailhouse hooch better known as Pruno.

There is no way in hell I would even attempt to write a gardening column. My landscaping skills are minimal and my desire to do any type of gardening even less. I am a city boy; until I moved to New Hampshire 5 years ago I had never even operated a lawnmower.

My whole vision of mowing lawns is like the dream sequence Kevin Bacon had in the movie She’s Having A Baby. On a Saturday afternoon that is pretty much what my neighborhood looks like, less one aspect. After my inaugural run on my mower spending a couple of hours cutting my lawn 5 years ago I quickly figured out one thing. My wife was not running out of the house with a glass of lemonade on a tray in a sundress.

I am more than fine with that. In fact, it prompted me to find my own refreshment while doing my horticultural duties. My local Super Wal-Mart has a pretty good grass selection and surprisingly the beer section isn’t too bad either. This allows me to pick up my gardening supplies; beer and a 64 oz tub of processed nacho cheese, in one fell swoop. What I do with a half-gallon tub of nacho cheese will have to wait for another column. Today it is all about the grass and the beer.

As I said I don’t know shit about gardening. One thing I do know about landscaping is what are the best beers to drink while doing it.

What makes this task more enjoyable is an entire sub genre of beers exist called lawnmower beers. These beers do not belong to any style but can be identified by a few characteristics. Lawnmower beers are lower in ABV%, crisp, clean and refreshing. These are the beers that you reward yourself with after 4 grueling hours in the summer sun doing your lawn. Did you notice I said after you do your lawn?

This is the part that I shouldn’t even have to mention. If you are going to operate heavy machinery, we here at TheManRoom do not suggest you drink beers while doing so. The brewers to be mentioned do not market or advocate drinking their beers while operating machinery. There is your disclaimer, so if anyone looses a finger over this article throw it in some chili and sue Wendy’s. Don’t come crying to me. With the disclaimer out of the way let’s get back to the beers and the grass.

There are a few breweries that have actually put Lawnmower in the name of the beer. One great example is Saint Arnold Fancy Lawnmower Beer. It is based on a German Kölsch and was a medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival. We talked about the Kölsch style last year when we visited Harpoon Brewing. Their Summer Beer is another great example of this style.

Kölsch beers often have subtle fruit fragrances and are almost void of any malt presence in the aroma. The taste varies with each brewer but typically the mouthfeel is round and very balanced between fruitiness and hop flavors, giving the beer a dry and refreshing finish. Ice cold on a summer day this beer tastes like ambrosia.

Dogfish Head has another offering with Lawnmower in the name called Lawnmower Light. This refreshing American Pale Ale is a totally different style than a Kölsch.

The big difference between an American Pale Ale and an English Pale Ale is the hops. American Pale Ales have a bigger hop profile in the aroma and the palette. There are usually notes of pine, grass and citrus making them the perfect beers for the great outdoors.

American Pale Ales also clock in between 4.5 – 6% ABV (Alcohol By Volume) allowing us to enjoy one without getting totally shattered. A key thing about drinking beers with a low ABV% is alcohol dehydrates you and out in the hot sun you need every bit of help you can get. I typically find myself downing more ice water than beer while doing yard work at a ratio of about 5:1.

So how do you find a good lawnmower beer? As with most beers the choice truly depends on your personal tastes. This is up to you and you alone. There is no style to stick to or guidelines to follow. It comes down to what you like to drink on a hot day.

For me a key component in a lawnmower beer is carbonation. I want a beer that will wash away the dirt and dust of my yard off my palette. Crisp, clean and dry is what I usually look for.

Another factor crucial for me is the beer must be a style that lends itself to being served ice cold. There is nothing more refreshing than an ice cold Pilsner or Lager on a scorching hot summer day.

Hefeweizens also lend themselves to being served on the chilly side, usually with a slice of lemon. Why people do this I have no clue. If you have a good Hefeweizen there is no need to add anything to it. The yeasts used in making Hefeweizens or Weissbier typically give off a clove aroma and fruity esters, usually banana. They also have a huge gritty wheat flavor with touches of citrus tones and snappy carbonation.

The German Weissbier has a Belgium cousin that makes just a good lawnmower beer in my opinion. The Belgium Wit, White or Witbier. This style is very similar to the Hefeweizen in a lot of ways starting with a cloudy straw color. They both have spicy fruity noses. The Witbier tends to give off more citrus fruit tones than banana aromas found in the Hefeweizen’s bouquet; typically orange zest, touches of coriander or even find touches of honey or vanilla.

There are many great examples of the Witbier style on the U.S. beer market. Allagash White, Ommegang Witt and Celis White are all impressive beers of this style. These are also great transition beers; my wife is now a huge fan of this style. One beer I haven’t gotten her hooked on is one of my summertime guilty pleasures: Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR).

I have been drinking PBR as long as I can remember. They are picking up a strange cult following of late and PBR taps are starting to pop up in some of the most exclusive beer bars. Pabst Blue Ribbon tee shirts, clothing and even sneakers are finding their want onto the bodies of the coolest urban hipsters.

Unknown to most, PBR has a long history in his country as a notable American Standard Lager. Did you know it was the official beer of World War II? Beers shipped off to our troops were PBRs in olive drab cans! Thank God they went back to the original labeling after the war.

I loose my beer enough in the backyard so I know I would never find it if it were camouflaged. At the price point that PBR comes in at you can afford to loose a beer or two. So today I picked up my 24 can suitcase for 9 dollars to discover the case had a 3 dollar rebate coupon on it! I haven’t seen a 6 dollar case of beer in 25 years. I can’t recommend enough picking up a case of this brew at this price point. You will still have plenty of money left over for grass and a half gallon tub of nacho cheese.

So what is the perfect lawnmower beer? It is the ice cold beer in your hand right now. Your call, your choice – just remember a lot of the summer offerings are seasonals so drink them up now as they will be gone in a few months.

If you stop by Casa De Securb to help me with the yard work, these are the frosties that will be your reward.

Michigan Brewing Celis White
The appearance is a clear light yellow with a pencil thin white head. The aroma is of wheat and bread with hints of straw, yeast and orange peel tones. There are also some light clove and allspice aromas along with the classic banana aromas. The mouthfeel is light with a dry texture the carbonation is soft and there is a very slight presence of alcohol. The finish is initially sweet with a gentle bitter hop finish.
Commercial Description:
Michigan Brewing Company’s Celis White came home to Michigan from the prestigious Great American Beer Festival with a Gold Medal! Competing in a field of 28 entries in the Belgian-Style White (or Wit) category, Celis White was deemed: “A world-class beer that accurately exemplifies the specified Belgian-Style Wit, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma and appearance.”

Pabst Blue Ribbon
As expected PBR pours a fizzy yellow color but that is where the similarities between it and most beers you will find at your local 7 -11 end. It has a sweet malt nose with a touch of grain. The mouthfeel is light and crisp with an initial malt sweetness that is complimented with an earthy hop finish.
Commercial Description:
Our beer was originally called “Select,” but people started asking for that “Blue Ribbon” beer in 1882 when we started tying silk ribbons to the bottles. We officially added the words “Blue Ribbon” to the bottle in 1895. Pabst was the first brewery to put beer in cans way back in 1935. This was Blue Ribbon beer but it was called “Export” when sold in the can. Our first cans had a picture of a can opener on the side with instructions on how to open the can of beer, with the can opener.

Brooklyn Lager
The color of this beer is great reddish amber. The nose is all about malt with ever so slight hints of hops. It is medium on the palette and upon swallowing the hops come marching in. No this is not a “hop bomb” but the hops are perfectly present. If you need a great summer beer this is the answer to your prayers.
Commercial Description:
In the late 1800’s Brooklyn was one of the largest brewing centers in the country, home to more than 45 breweries. Lager beer in the “Vienna” style was one of the local favorites. Our flagship beer, the award-winning Brooklyn Lager is amber-gold in color, and displays a firm malt center supported by a fine bitterness and floral hop aroma. The aromatic qualities of the beer are enhanced by “dry-hopping”, the centuries-old practice of steeping the beer with fresh hops as it undergoes a long, cold maturation. The result is a wonderfully flavorful beer, smooth, refreshing and very versatile with food. From the most modest picnics to the country’s finest restaurants, Brooklyn Lager is enjoyed with everything from salads to steaks. Or, of course, by itself.

This week’s number one pick is:

Tremont Summer Ale
I have been drinking Tremont’s beers for years and have never seen this ale until now. I don’t know if it is new or just eluded my clutches all this time. Trying to do more research on this beer was fruitless; Tremont’s website was down as I was writing the column. What I can tell you about this beer is its color is a deep gold with tiny bubbles rising through the glass with a quickly disappearing white head. The aroma is of hops and lemon peel with earthy grassy notes. The mouthfeel is crisp and light with aggressive carbonation on the palette. There is a touch of malt that is instantly blasted away buy a big hop finish and lemon zest.
Commercial Description:
None Available / Brewed and bottled by Shipyard Brewing Co. Portland ME for The Tremont Brewery Waltham, MA.