PITTSBURGH BREWING – IC LIGHT MANGO by: Andrew Schroeder
Summer in Pittsburgh usually means a few things: trips to Kennywood, Pirates games, Pens playoff games, and the Stanley Cup (hopefully), and amidst all this, beer. Not that we beer enthusiasts don’t enjoy beer year-round; there’s just something about the summer heat that makes a beer much more enjoyable, almost a necessity. There’s a reason more beer is sold in the summer than in any other time of the year. Moreover, since June 2011, the palates of Pittsburgh beer enthusiasts have been treated by Pittsburgh Brewing Company to a sweeter, richer flavor when the summer months roll around, and the city’s favorite seasonal will be reappearing this year as expected.
IC Light Mango has been a huge hit in Pittsburgh since its release, and it’s becoming more successful every year. In fact, it’s one of Pittsburgh Brewing Company’s most popular and talked-about beers. Part of the appeal may lie in the brand’s seasonal schedule; as anticipation for summer grows in dull and dreary spring days, beer enthusiasts envision the perfect companion drink to those summer days, and for many, no beer will do but IC Light Mango.
Over the past few years, flavored beers have grown more and more common, and fruit beers in particular see popularity spikes in summer months. I and many other beer enthusiasts enjoy a lively, fruity flavor when the weather gets warm, and Pittsburgh Brewing Company has put its stake in this new territory. But to say IC Light Mango goes along with a trend would be to sell it short. While the creation of IC Light Mango was undoubtedly inspired by the rise of seasonal flavored beers, it would be most apt to see it as an improvement upon the trend, not a derivative of it. Over the past month, I’ve treated myself to many different flavored beers, especially ones with fruit flavorings. While they are usually pleasant, they too often become overpowering, too sweet, to the point where drinking more than one feels like drinking a smoothie – I love smoothies, sure, but I don’t want one where I thought I had a beer. IC Light Mango does not taste like mango juice in a beer can; it tastes like beer with a mango twist. The two elements, American-style light lager and mango flavoring, complement each other; neither dominates the other.
Not only that, but mango itself is not your typical fruity beer flavoring. Summer beers are most often lemon- or lime-infused; you’ll see some that have orange, others strawberry, others raspberry, but you don’t see mango-flavored beers that often. And, compared to the other fruits listed, mango is an especially tropical and summery fruit to flavor a beer. Pittsburgh Brewing Company chose mango flavor not only because it would differentiate its summer fruit brew from others but because it simply fits better. Mango beers in the summer just make sense.
So yes, fans of IC Light Mango have the beer’s triumphant return to look forward to, but there’s something new in the mix too. This year will be the first that the Pittsburgh Brewing Company is offering IC Light Mango on tap in addition to its traditional 24-pack. Speaking personally, I’d prefer a bottle to a can, but a draft beer tops it all; the flavors are fresher and stronger, more pronounced. And this year we’ll have an opportunity to experience IC Light Mango in this format. I intend to get a 24-pack of bottles of IC Light Mango, but I’m definitely going to make a point of getting myself to a bar that has it on tap.
With the combination of IC Light Mango and the newer IC Light Berry, Pittsburgh Brewing Company is putting its own stamp on the fruit-flavored beer world, but in a newer and frankly better way. These don’t taste like wine coolers as do many other fruit beers; they taste like beer with fruit infusions. They’re drinkable and not too sweet at the same time. A summer in Pittsburgh without IC Light Mango is like one without concert tailgates or sweltering heat: just not the same.