Springtime ushers in many new and exciting things for humanity. The birds are chirping, tulips are shooting out of the ground to color the your yards with bold and dynamic colors and animals everywhere under the sun are getting their minds right for mating season. All these things are exciting and make us thirsty. From a beer perspective, we see the barrel aged stouts and barley wines in the rear view mirror and it is time to move onto some more refreshing and lighter flavors and styles.
Springtime for the beer drinker is kind of random as far as what to drink. It isn’t super nice yet, especially in MN, where it is not outside the realm of possibility to have snow in May. There are also days that are pleasantly in the 70s with not a cloud in the sky. So, what is a beer drinker to do if they want to drink seasonally, when the season has the temperament of a hormonally unbalanced teen hopped up on energy drinks?
That is where I am here to help. Rest assured, I have done the research and taken one, or in this case, at least six, for the team. I have found a nice collection of spring beers, both locally and regionally available, to help you weather the storm until summer is here and you are sitting on a patio in sandals and sunglasses.
In going around town and chatting with liquor stores as well as an informal social media poll, I discovered the idea of spring seasonals in the beer world is really hard to define. I did, however, get many good ideas and suggestions for things to drink. The styles range from Maibocks to IPAs with plenty of Pale Ales and Lagers in between. Most of the beers I found tended to be less malty and heavy than the beers we gravitate towards in the colder months. For seasonal drinkers like myself, once it warms up, I am stampeding towards medium bodied beers with a little bit more of a hop presence than the bigger stouts and winter warmers I had been enjoying to get me through winter. If you feel that this list is missing something, let me know. After all, this is just my perspective of what I found. I always love to discover new things. Nothing makes the wretched sounds of squirrels completing the circle of life in a tree more palatable than a good spring beer to discover and enjoy!
This delightful version of a Gose, a traditional German style, is refreshingly light and crisp. It has a citrusy tartness and is perfect for that first time you decide to do seafood or fish on the grill. In fact, the first time I drank this beer, it was paired with a walleye fillet poached in Goosetown, courtesy of Sean Paxton via a beer dinner and it was a perfect combination with the delicateness of the fish. Goosetown has a vibrant orange color with a nice white head that looks like a fluffy white cloud. There is a coriander flavor along with a little bit of salt that makes it a tremendously unique palate pleaser. Don’t be scared of the salt, it is very slight and only compliments the other flavors of this beer. Focus on the aromatics of the coriander and lemon peel and make sure you get at least a sixer of this 4.7% ABV beer, because just like Pringles, you can’t stop at just one.
The Summit Maibock is a perfect spring beer. It is not heavy, but has a balanced malt character and hop spice. The flavor is definitely malt-forward although the color is lighter than you might expect for a bock. Because of the malt character in this beer, it will pair nicely with some really nice brats or a rack of ribs. I have even used it to boil brats in before grilling them and they impart a lot of nice malty flavor into the brats. You can find this beer on tap at many of the establishments around town and it really is a perfect beer for spring. At 6.7% ABV and 40 IBUs, it will appeal to every palate!
Third Street Spot Light IPA
If you didn’t know this was an IPA, you would think it was a red ale because of its reddish copper color. However, the 7.3% ABV and 70 IBUs say otherwise. This IPA has rye in it and while I usually shy away from rye in beers, this concoction has a very pleasing spice from the rye that is not overpowering and adds a nice complexity. There is also a good caramel malt flavor that give the beer a lot of body and heft. The hop aroma is stronger than the hop flavor in my opinion, which is not a bad thing in this case. The hops are there, but the real spotlight in this beer is what the brewers did to get every ingredient to work in harmony. I will definitely be drinking more of this!
Deschutes Red Chair
This pale ale is a very nice example of balance in a beer. At 6.2% ABV and 60 IBU it gives the drinker a nice hop punch without knocking them out. The floral and citrus aroma from the hops make this an excellent springtime beer. The nice pillowy head lingers for a while and contrasts the reddish amber color of the beer. The contrast of malty backbone and grapefruit hop presence give Deschutes Red Chair a complexity that you don’t always get from a pale ale. This beer would go really well with a nice slice of pizza or a cheeseburger right off the grill.
Southern Tier Where The Helles Summer Lager
It wouldn’t be springtime without a nice clean lager. Luckily for all of us, when we get our hands on anything from Southern Tier, we know it will be good. This beer is clear with a very light straw color. The head dissipates quickly leaving behind some really cool lacing on the glass. Remember, no lacing means that you have a dirty glass and it is time to give the dishwasher an atomic wedgie! This is definitely a beer you can have on hand for the first time you mow the lawn. It is a very low 4.6% ABV and almost no bitterness. It has the distinct lager yeast aroma, which I think smells like the underside of the floating dock up at a summer resort my family used to frequent. I know that descriptor is not really enticing, but it is not a bad olfactory memory. This beer drinks crisp and clean. Very similar in style to a pilsner and could probably go a long way in being a gateway beer for someone who swears by American light lagers. Who knew that a lawnmower beer could have such flavor and aroma!
Longfin has an incredibly herbal aroma. Almost identical in color to the Southern Tier Helles, Longfin has a nice light straw color with bubbles clinging to the side of the glass. A fluffy head that dissipates rather quickly. This has a nice bite to it and is incredibly smooth. There is a slight hint of salt or tartness that almost reminds me of a Gose. This beer would be perfect with a nice piece of fish or a fresh spring salad because it is so delicate and won’t step on the toes of any other delicate food. This is not something you would want to drink with spicy food because like the 4th starter for the Minnesota Twins at a major league pitching tryout for another team, it would get lost in the shuffle. This would be good for a springtime happy hour because it is only 4.5% ABV and has a very low bitterness at 18 IBUs.
I hope that this list of six beers helps give you some ideas for things to try when you go to your neighborhood bottle shop. Spring is for new beginnings and that means trying some new beers. The dulcet sounds of the squirrels mating in the yard will be much more soothing if you have a pint of one or more of the beers on this list. Do you have any of your spring favorites? Well, please share them in the comments section. I am a beer geek and definitely not a beer expert. I am always looking to learn more about beer. Also, I hate the sounds of squirrels ransacking my sensibilities as they fruitfully multiply outside my window. Prost!