Ah spring! The days are longer, the flowers are blooming and those crazy craft brewers are here to help welcome the warmer temperatures with their spring seasonals. Each year, it is a personal mission to get my hot little hands on as many of these “craft beers of the moment” that I possibly can. These beers often contain the freshest local ingredients and reflect the smells, tastes and feelings of awakening.
When I think of spring seasonals, styles like Mai Bock, Red Ale, Irish Stout, Biere de Mars and Wheat come to mind. See the specialty section in the Style Finder area of the site for more information on seasonal styles. Yet each season, I notice craft brewers branching beyond what would traditionally be expected, and blaze their own path by creatively reinterpreting a style or inventing a new one.
Thanks to the beauty of email, with one easy communication (sent to more than 1,000 of today’s U.S. breweries) we were able to get a nice snapshot of what’s planned for spring. Be on the lookout for what I like to call “spring in a glass,” from your local craft brewery, or find one of the offerings below.
A sample of 2011 Spring Seasonals
(with descriptions from the breweries)
Boulevard Brewing Company | Kansas City, MO
Boss Tom’s Golden Bock – A golden colored, light to medium bodied craft beer with a prominent bready malt flavor and a low to moderate hop bitterness. Available mid- to late-March throughout Boulevard’s 19-state region.
Choc Beer Company | Krebs, OK
Spring IPA – An American IPA with premium imported pilsner and honey malts that combine to form a golden ale that shows off the copious amounts of American hops creating a floral and citrus nose. Available February 14, in OK, AR, AL, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and the FL panhandle.
Bitter Root Brewing | Hamilton, MT
Red Dread – A new spring seasonal, Red Dread is a big, rich, and powerful Imperial Red Ale brewed with eight specialty malts and dry hopped with 1/2 lb. of Citra and 1/2 lb. of CTZ hops per-barrel. Released February 14, in MT and some ID and WA markets.
Epic Brewing Company | Salt Lake City, UT
Sour Apple Saison – This is a gorgeous American twist on Saison; nice mild sourness, with a slight kick of apple and cinnamon. The beer features a very dry finish from the Saison yeast, yielding an earthy, peppery and spicy taste. Available March through May in UT (at the brewery and some state stores), Northern CO, VA, DC and ID.
Brainless on Peaches – This Golden Ale is brewed and fermented in stainless tanks, and then moved into French Oak Chardonay barrels with fresh peach puree for a secondary fermentation with champagne yeast. This 100% barrel-aged beer remains in the barrels for three to six months. The peach is very subtle, but noticeable, with a dry finish from the champagne yeast and a slight sourness from the peach skins. Available mid-March in UT (at the brewery and some state stores), Northern CO, VA, DC and ID.
Belgian Style Wit Beer – A traditionally brewed Wit beer is brewed with wheat, oats, authentic Belgian yeast, malts and just a sprinkle of hops. Classic spices include coriander, sweet and bitter orange peel, and grains of paradise. Available mid-March in UT (at the brewery and some state stores), Northern CO, VA, DC and ID.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company | Paso Robles, CA
Solace – A summer fusion Wheat beer with a hint of citrus, fruit, and clove aroma that are followed by tangy, dry malt flavor, and a silky finish making it an approachable and refreshing session craft beer. Available April 1 in CA, NV, AZ, OR, and WA.
Funkwerks | Fort Collins, CO
Brett Dream – This is a Saison that is funked-up with a Brettanomyces Claussenii. This craft beer conjures up a country barn filled with lemon grass. Available in April in Denver, Ft. Collins, and Boulder, CO.
Hoppy Brewing Company | Sacramento, CA
Erhoption Stout – A hopped-up American-style Stout, with a suitably complex malt bill to support the noble aroma with licorice and citrusy notes of Mt. Rainier hops. Available March 1, only at Hoppy Brewing Co.
Lavery Brewing Company | Erie, PA
Liopard oir – This 4.8% ABV Farmhouse Saison Ale is brewed as a farmer might have brewed it 100 years ago. Available March 14 in Erie, PA, and possibly available in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Clementine Lemon Thyme – Light American Wheat craft beer brewed with clementine and lemon zests and dry hopped with fresh thyme. Available March 21, for the first day of spring, and on tap at the brewery tasting rooms and select draft accounts in MI only.
Polinator Doppelbock – A collaboration beer brewed with Sherwood Brewing Company that is a traditional Dopppelbock brewed with Michigan honey to lighten the body. Available after March 2, on tap at the brewery tasting rooms and select draft accounts in MI only.
Mad River Brewing Company | Blue Lake, CA
Double Dread Imperial Red - Pouring a true ruby red of unexpected clarity, with zesty citrus aromatics and a resinous flavor explosion, this Imperial Red weighs in at 8.6% ABV and 95.1 IBUs. Available April 1, nationwide.
Revival Red Ale – A sessionable ruby-hued American Red Ale with a medium body, a savory malt base, and a wonderful citrusy hop profile that is perfectly suited to be enjoyed with the renewal that spring brings to the Red Dirt State each year. Available March 3, only in OK.
Short’s Brewing Company | Bellaire, MI
Golden Rule – An English-Style India Pale Ale made with 100 percent organic malt and hops. Golden Rule is light golden colored, and contains hop characteristics of earthy, grassy, and even hay-like flavors that are detected before a bitter finish. Available March 21, only in MI.
Smoky Mountain Breweries | Knoxville, TN
Capricator Bock – This Dunkle Bock a rich malty version brewed with five different Weyermann malts. Available through spring in east TN.
Brown Trout Stout – A Caribbean-style Stout that is full bodied, chewy, roasty, sweet and nitrogenized. Available through spring in east TN.
Standing Stone Brewing Company | Ashland, OR
Pilsner – Brewed in the Bohemian Pilsner style, this Pilsner is a deep golden color, approximately 4.5% ABV, and made with all organic ingredients, including organic hops. Available March 29, primarily at the brewpub with some limited distribution to select southern OR accounts.
California Common – Fermented with Bavarian lager yeast at 62ºF, this California Common is a light amber color, has noticeable hop bitterness at 40 IBU, and is medium bodied. Available March 18, primarily at the brewpub with some limited distribution to select southern OR accounts.
Twisted Pine Brewing Company | Boulder, CO
Hoppy Man – An Imperial IPA, Hoppy Man comes around each March with big, bold flavors that burst with aroma provided by generous dry hopping from a variety of hops including Northern Brewer, Chinook, Simcoe, and Cascade. Available March 11, in CO, TX, LA, NE, MO, and at the Twisted Pine Ale House.
Maibock – This Maibock delivers an authentic Bavarian taste, a full body with a complex, sweet malt character, balanced by a sturdy German hop profile that creates a crisp, dry finish. Available April 1, throughout IN, KY, and southeastern WI.
Wynkoop Brewing Company | Denver, CO
Skull & Crossbones Black Ale - A Black India Pale Ale, made with lemon and lime peel, molasses, and a new hop variety named El Dorado (the city of gold!). Available March 4, on draft only at Wynkoop and a half-dozen Denver specialty beer bars.
Pilsnoir - A new Imperial Black Pilsner that is black in color, hopped with traditional whole-leaf Saaz hops, in an untraditional way (via dry hopping and our Hopinator hopback device), and is aged for 10 weeks before release. Available March 8, at Wynkoop and a half-dozen Denver specialty beer bars.
Hop to Conclusions - An Imperial IPA brewed with so many hops we had to file an extra TPS report with accounting to make it. Our hoppiest craft beer ever. Available March 25, at Wynkoop and a half-dozen Denver specialty beer bars.
What seasonals will you be enjoying this spring?
Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association, is a homebrewer, BJCP beer judge and Certified Cicerone™. Despite her extensive experience, she will always consider herself a beer beginner on an unending journey to learn more about craft beer. Additionally, for interesting articles on small and independent craft brewers check out del.icio.us and follow Craft Beer Muses on Twitter.