To a long snowy winter of strong brew in all its black chocolatey, spicy, warm brilliance – Cheers! That seemingly never ending selection of hearty stouts, porters, dunkels, scotch ales (and many other winter brews) has kept us languid and beamy, if not foam-filled and dreamy through the cold months. We’ll genuinely miss you.
Now as the weather warms, the thaw brings a fresh batch of beer styles to keep us cooler and agile as we slither out from our caves to taste thee. Beer buffs everywhere are studying menus with anticipation of a mouthful of emerging new arrivals, or savoring one of their trusted spring favorites. But those undecided may need some affirmation, so we called on home brewing expert Michael Sears (Forest City Brewers) to collaborate and craft this “Top Ten List of Spring Beers”.
TIP: If you’re interested in seeking out other spring seasonal beers beyond this exceptional list (it’s only ten of hundreds), you’ll find great online resources and ratings to enhance your intellect on all beer styles and their characteristics, including RateBeer.com and the Beer Advocate, or go totally beer social with UNTAPPD. Whatever tips your pint…Prost!
- Columbia Common (Widmer) 4.7% ABV
These guys make affordable and consistently great tasting beer. This spring standard has a clear rich amber hue and off-white head with a crispy dry taste with maybe a hint of grapefruit and mellow spicy hops. Light and bright “steam” style beer with refreshing character.
- Hot Rocks Lager (Port Brewing) 6.2% ABV
It could run the Board Meeting (Port’s yummy Brown)…while perhaps a bit overstated, this robust and deep ruby brown lagers sizzles with a smoky toffee caramel flavor, created with the addition of glowing hot granite to the kettle…clever indeed. A one-of-a-kind dark stein brew is medium wet, quenching and highly drinkable.
- Double Agent IPL (Sam Adams – Hopology Series) 5.0% ABV
This seasonal Irish Ale is made special for the new year is a clear dark ruby-red tribute to Ireland, with just the right blend of toasty malts and flowery hops to make it a classic in its own right.
- Gumballhead (Three Floyds Brewing) 5.6% ABV
Big flavored American Wheat Ale with the namesake of Rob Syers’ underground comic book cat created by. Amarillo Hops and generous American red wheat lead to a complex hop aroma with notes of grapefruit, lemon zest, marmalade and peach. Perhaps a springtime IPA in disguise and exceptional any time.
- Dead Guy Ale (Rogue) 5% ABV
German Maibock and contrary to some rumors, has no direct association with the Grateful Dead, although Rogue pubs “it glows”. Looks like wet fizzy orangey honey and tastes malty sweet with balanced bitterness and a very slight mild hop bite. Should be the theme beer for “The Following”!
- Mexican Logger (Ska Brewing Company) 4.2% ABV
Corona gets hopped up? Maybe just a little as the boldness of Saaz hops give you that impression, but actually this APA is clean, crisp, lightly malted and slightly lemony right out of the bottle…or…can! This is the ultimate spring lawn tending fuel. And the web site is a ska kickin’ hoot to boot.
- Maibock/Helles Bock (Smuttynose) 8.7% ABV
Big beer series and that ain’t no joke. Mostly hazy orange with huge maltiness and a very warm finish. There’s a touch of sweet fruity dark apple crispiness with grassy spicy hopness. Great beer to sip around a spring campfire while telling fishin’ tales.
- Karnival Kölsch (Stoudt’s) 4.8% ABV
I Love a Kolsch brewed well and this one is a mouthful of amusement. An all German style malt and hop gala that’s cold fermented for a nice lager-like smooth, dry, bready crisp spring time celebration. Refreshing with a fruitiness and mild bitterness, this one goes great with circus peanuts…the real ones!
- Maibock (Summit Brewing) 6.5% ABV
Referred to as “liquid bread”, the monks brewed this to get through Lenten fasting. Moravian 37 malts and Czech Saaz hops give it a crisp toasty sweetness balanced quite nicely with a mild spicy/bitter finish. It’s got a hoppy hang-time for a bock, but that’s why they call it spring!
- Canoe Paddler (Leinenkugel’s) 5% ABV
My new Leinie’s favorite and unexpected treat from this workingman’s N. Wisconsin brewer. Clear and golden in the pint with a citrusy herbal nose. The soft lemon zing and rye malted mouth, crisp, and well balanced with delicate spicy hop bitterness keeps this Kolsch simple as it should be–but a refreshing adventure for the style. And for the money ($12/12 pack), I’m paddlin’ down river ‘til mid-summer.
As seasonals go, there are endless choices of multiple styles. The purist may have other brews in mind or you techies can sort through these beer finder apps featured by our friends at Appolicious. At the very least, here’s hoping this list temps you to expand your horizons. Trust me, you’ll look much more cultured tipping back one of these fine brewskis versus forcing that domestic kitsch down your pie holes.