Once the Midwest is released from winter’s icy grasp, spring’s trepid arrival sees the beginning of barbecue season. With rising temperatures and charred food comes a growing thirst. But where do the Midwest’s hearty folk turn for the perfect pairing of hops and barley to couple with the promise of spring?
To find an answer, I turned to the good folks at Weiland’s Market, centrally located in Ohio, The Heart of it All. With their steadfast guidance, I navigated refrigerated cases lined with colorful bottles and inviting labels to find spring’s top five beers. After a grueling afternoon of research, my thirst slaked, I share my findings below.
Ithaca Beer Co, Ithaca, NY
Unknown Alcohol by Volume
Ground Break was among my favorites to sample. Being one of three saisons – a pale ale – meant it should be heavily carbonated and have a citrusy aftertaste. This particular offering had a comparatively mild flavor and was the lightest of the saisons. Ground Break poured into a beautiful, heady foam, that remained long after the final swallow.
Verdict: This beer would be perfect on the patio, on its own.
Swing Session Saison
Victory, Downington, PA
4.5% Alcohol by Volume
This Belgian-style saison was slightly darker than the Ground Break. I found it to have a light, smooth flavor, but a strong aftertaste of lingering citrus and spice. After several earnest gulps, I found the aftertaste became overpowering.
Verdict: Too strong for me — a beer for beer aficionados.
Smitten Golden Rye Ale
Bell’s Brewery, Comstock, MI
6% Alcohol by Volume
The darkest of the three saisons, the Swing Session had a beautiful golden color. As the others, it also had an inviting, citrusy aroma. The flavor was light, but also a complex combination of citrus, rye, and “earthy overtones.” As with the Swing Session, the aftertaste quickly became strong, but not overpowering.
Verdict: Too complex for my unrefined palette — another beer for aficionados.
Hoppy Dark Wheat Beer
Two Brothers, Warrenville, IL
5.8% Alcohol by Volume
In a unique purple can — easily the most attractively of the bunch — Night Cat was the darkest of the sampled beers – and it is pretty dark. When poured, it built to an attractive, foamy head. Night Cat, like most of the others, boasted citrusy notes. Although a dark beer, it had a surprisingly mild, malty taste. Though heavy, it had little aftertaste.
Verdict: It’s pretty good.
Shiner Ruby Redbird
Spoetzel Brewery, Shiner TX
4.8% Alcohol by Volume
This golden-colored, heavily carbonated beer is technically a summer beer, but the folks as Weiland’s assured me it was still one of spring’s best sellers. Overall, Ruby Redbird had a refreshing, tangy taste, a combination of the added grapefruit juice and ginger, reminiscent of shandy-style beers brewed in Chippewa Falls.
Verdict: It’s really, really good! Enjoy outside in warm weather!