While the signs of winter are still making their presence known in the area – thanks mostly to the large mounds of dirty snow still piled up sporadically – spring is starting to make an appearance. Yes, we’ve turned the clocks forward, seemingly giving us more daylight, and the temperatures are slightly warmer than they have been, but spring is also making its presence known in other areas, namely in beer.
Many craft beer aficionados – or geeks, if you will – transition their beer drinking styles to the dark side during the winter, whether it is to match the setting outside or simply to partake in somewhat higher ABV beers to warm the body. We have seen this throughout the area with many taps being taken over by stouts and porters, and shelves at a variety of beer stores are experiencing the same phenomena.
Yet, if you look again, signs of spring are popping up at your favorite bar and beer-purchasing location with a plethora of lighter styles, in both color and body, now being released by a variety of breweries. However, with the increasing number of breweries and beers continually entering the market, it can be a bit overwhelming to know exactly what each style is and what the best choices are within each of those styles. Here is a brief rundown of great spring styles of beer to enjoy and a few suggestions of brews to try in each.
Pale ale: While this style is brewed year-round, it is extremely enjoyable this time of year with its refreshing qualities and subtle hop flavor and aroma that is just enough to help awaken you from you winter slumber. Some of the great Pale Ales to try are: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale; Stone Brewing Co. Pale Ale; Deschutes Brewery, Mirror Pond Pale Ale; and Oskar Blues, Dale’s Pale Ale.
Witbier: This Belgian style wheat beer is typically cloudy and unfiltered, but it delivers a great amount of flavor without being heavy on the palate and is great to have on hand while doing your spring cleaning chores. This is a style that continually gains fans, and some of the best to try are: Avery Brewing Company, White Rascal; Allagash Brewing Company, Allagash White; Unibroue, Blanche De Chambly; and Dogfish Head Brewery, Namaste.
Kölsch: This is a German-styled beer that is a bit different from the rest of the German family of beers. This crisp and mildly assertive style has a bit of a hop presence, but it is still brewed to be enjoyed in larger quantities with a modest ABV. Many American breweries have taken to this style, but German breweries are still brewing it as well. Try: Brauerei Heinrich Reissdorf, Reissdorf Kölsch; Samuel Adams, East-West Kölsch and Escape Route; and Ballast Point, Yellowtail.
While stouts and porters are wonderful throughout the year, as we enter these warmer temperatures and enjoy more sunlight, it is time to also let the light shine in our beers once again. We have much to celebrate, as we made it through one of the most difficult winters we have had in quite some time.
Another sign that spring is upon us is beer festivals. One in particular seems to be making itself known, the inaugural Beer Geek Festival on April 12 at the Slocum Hollow Lodge on Montage Mountain from 3 to 7 p.m. The brewery lineup is one that you will not see elsewhere and is the perfect chance to shed the winter fur and step out for a great beer and kick off the beer festival and spring season the right way.