What exactly are seasonal beers? It’s more about certain characteristics that set them apart. The most popular and well known are for summer, fall, and winter. For example summer beers obviously are lighter due to the hot temperatures of the season. They’re also crisp and refreshing with beers like Pilsner, Kolsch, Wheat Beer, or Saison. Fall beers are malty and feature pumpkin ales. Oktoberfest is the long standing tradition and festival for drinking beer in Germany. Winter beers are heavy and dark like stouts, porters, coffee, and dessert beers.
What are spring beers and what makes them different? In the past spring beers have been rather neglected with no specific ones for that season. Perhaps it had to do with Lenten, since many European breweries stem from that tradition. Generally speaking, there are certain styles that are now being associated with spring. That’s because of certain events and holidays like St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish black ale, stout, has a very special place around the world on March 17th in many pubs and taverns.
Maibock, or May bock, are one of the bock beers that’s specifically brewed for springtime. Other beers suitable for spring are spiced and fruit beers, in addition to regular bock and dopplebock. The latter was used for sustenance during a fasting period of Lent for the monks of St. Francis of Paula in Munich, Germany. Here are five current spring beers mostly made in the U.S. that adhere to the benefits and lightness of the season. Find out more about their styles, brewery information, prices, aromas, tastes, and appearances.
Samuel Adams Alpine Spring – Boston, Massachusetts
You’ve seen the many Samuel Adams television commercials. Now they have a spring beer all their own. Nothing says spring like its bottle label with flowers in bloom, a shimmering lake, and warmer temperatures on the horizon. Here’s the Boston Beer Company’s small-batch series for spring featuring a hazy, golden-hued brew, and an unfiltered appearance of a Kellerbier. The Samuel Adams Alpine Spring has the high alcohol content of a traditional spring bock and the hoppiness of a Helles. Enjoy its citrus aroma and spicy taste that’s brewed with Noble Tettnang hop. Price: $7.99 six pack.
Shipyard Brewing Applehead – Portland, Maine
This is one of the spiced styles that signify spring beers. It’s a refreshing crisp wheat ale with subtle cinnamon flavoring, and like its labeling, there’s the apple aroma. Shipyard Brewing Applehead has real beer ingredients containing 2-row British Pale Ale Malt, Light Munich Malt and Malted Wheat. It’s hopped with Willamette and Hallertau. As you pour there’s an orange amber color with a frothy white head that soon dissipates. Shipyard Brewing Company is a craft brewery established in 1994 ranking 19th nationwide and 28th overall with other breweries. Did you know fruit has been a longtime seasoning for beer far longer than hops? Price: $8.99 six pack – 12 oz.
Widmer Columbia Common Spring Ale – Portland, Oregon
The Widmer Brothers Brewing Company situated in Oregon’s Williamette Valley is friendly to the environment. Only trees that have naturally fallen are used for its tap handles. In 2013 they released their Columbia Common Spring Ale as a new spring seasonal beer. The name “common” refers to its style and for one of the three hops used in brewing. In the common/steam style it’s fermented with both ale and lager yeast, blending both characteristics in one. The lager yeast is crisp, clean, and dry, whereas the hefeweizen ale gives it a fruitful delight. Appearance-wise its dark, amber-hued gives off a floral aroma that has a malty firmness. Price: $8.99 six pack.
Selkirk Abbey Infidel – Post Falls, Idaho
Up in Northern Idaho near Coeur d’Alene is the first brewery in that area to produce Belgian-style ales. The Selkirk Abbey takes the popular IPA style with Belgian yeast to create an American/Belgian hybrid. On pouring it has an orange hue with an off-white head in appearance. Aroma-wise the Selkirk Abbey Infidel brings out a piney, strong citrus scent. Your palate will get the maltiness and Belgian-style spices that bold and beautiful. Price: $8.99 for 22 oz.
Gouden Carolus Easter Beer – Mechelen, Belgian
You can never go wrong with a European beer despite the season. Gouden Carolus Easter Beer says it all for spring, right down to a holiday on the label. At the Brouwerij Het Anker brewery their dark brown special ale is made every year for Easter, and to be enjoyed at Easter dinner. It has a very strong ABV (alcohol by volume) of 10 percent. Its malty sweetness will nicely pair with a holiday ham.
Their special brew can be cellared that will increase in complexity and balance for years to come. The brewery states they use herbs, though some of the spices detected are anise, cinnamon, citrus peel and nutmeg. Dark fruits such as figs and plums give it an even richer ambience, as well as its ruby red appearance. For an ideal taste, serve it at a cool temperature by pouring out gently in one motion. Price: $10.99 750 ml bottle