Spring’s here! Time to dust off the barbecue, uncover that lawn furniture and start enjoying the warmer weather. And no springtime backyard gathering of family or friends is complete without a refrigerator or cooler stocked with cold, refreshing beer. Each spring, brewers release a bevy of seasonal beers, some of which you can’t find at any other time of year. We’ve picked a selection of the best of them. Toast the arrival of spring with one of these five fine spring brews.
Goose Island 312 Urban Pale Ale: New for 2014, this Chicago-brewed standout was inspired by the success of Green Line Pale Ale, which you can only get in the Windy City. Fortunately, this new brew will be available nationwide for everyone to enjoy. This 5.4% ABV is brewed with Amarillo, Mt. Hood and Nugget hops and has notes of toasted malt and a crisp, hop finish. Goes great with any barbecue, burgers or aged Gouda.
“Our Chicago fans gave us the inspiration to brew 312 Urban Pale Ale,” Goose Island Brewmaster Brett Porter explained. “Their incredible, ongoing support for Green Line motivated us to develop a Pale Ale that everyone in the U.S. can enjoy.”
Gordon Biersch Maibock: From San Jose, California comes this 7.3% ABV rich, malty spring brew. ‘Maibock’ in German means bock beer of May, and Gordon Biersch co-founder Dan Gordon studied brewing engineering at the Technical University of Munich in Bavaria, instilling in him the ethos and expertise to faithfully craft a variety of German beer styles.
Amber-colored, with shades of copper and orange, GB Maibock features rich, malty flavor with a moderate amount of bitterness and a slight peppery character in the finish. Available February through April.
Brouwerij Het Anker Gouden Carolus Easter Beer: This seriously strong dark ale from the renowned Brouwerij Het Anker in Mechelen, Belgium is meant to be enjoyed at Easter dinner. But watch out; at 10% ABV, this full, well-balanced offering packs a powerful punch. Spicy notes of anise, citrus peel, cinnamon and nutmeg prevail, with the added richness of plum and fig making this brew even more complex. Pairs well with salty foods like Easter ham.
The makers of such legendary beers as Tripel and Cuvée Van De Keizer Blauw have brewed up another winner.
Brauerei Heller Aecht Schlenkerla Fastenbier: From the Bavarian town of Bamberg comes this unfiltered smokebeer. The reddish-brown lentbeer features a natural cloudiness, a smokey aroma and a fine, hoppy note. Hearty, with very big, heavy body, especially for a 5.5% ABV beer.
The only downside? This relatively scarce spring brew is only available during lent, from Ash Wednesday through Easter.
Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout: This Big Apple brew is the masterful creation of Brooklyn Brewery. While only three major Irish breweries still produce Irish Stout on the Emerald Isle, you can enjoy this fine stateside interpretation of an old spring favorite. This traditional Irish Stout is brewed with nitrogen and has notes of chocolate and coffee.
Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout features a thick, natural head, earthy aroma and espresso-like bite, followed up with coffee and chocolate flavors. Crack one open with some corn beef and cabbage and let the “craic” begin!