After a great coffee stout, but with still much of the evening ahead, I felt like a palate cleanser. A few weeks ago, an incredibly generous friend toted a couple of boxes into my home. He had surprised me with six Californian brews and a Chicago classic, all but one of which I had never tried. So, taken in completely by Kona’s enticing marketing scheme of sandy beaches and surf bums, I decided I deserved to relax just like that.

It pours practically see-through. It is a light, faint yellow gradient growing just a tad towards golden. The bubbles are there, of course, and an island of foam skims across the top, crashing against the shores of my glass and splashing a streaky lace. It smells of sugar, lemons and dirty yeast. Like a shandy, but cleaner. I feel my anticipation of a sessionable, clean beer peak right before my sip. The sip is a surprise. The faint funk on the scent is completely gone and I was right, it is a palate cleansing machine. I am practically taken to that beach, beer in hand, enjoying the crispness that fades into a coating on my tongue, just enough to help me remember I’m drinking a beer. There are biscuity flavors and a bit of pepper before that finish, both in quantities that are well placed and well balanced. Although a bit depressing on a December eve in Chicago, in six months this brew would be the perfect companion to my backyard barbecue.