As Spring arrives, let's not rush into Summer just yet. After all, we spent all Winter hoping that Spring would arrive. While as a person in beer sales, I know that Summer is when the most beer sales happen (domestic lights, Summer Shandy, session IPAs, wheat beers), I often find that beers of Spring are often overlooked. We are not even to April yet and trust me, you have plenty of time to work on your tan. So with a that in mind, let's turn our attention on some beers that work great for the season we are actually in.
Bocks: Originally German in heritage, bocks were the beer that greeted in Spring. Malty with just enough hops not to be sweet, bocks were robust enough to hold up to the brisk nights of March and April, but not too heavy as to not still be consumed in May. The top selling craft Bock is Shiner Bock, made in Shiner, Texas. This dark amber beer pairs perfectly with those grilled burgers and steaks while you sit in jeans and talk with friends and family on your deck. For even more German and seasonal experience, I would suggest trying Schell's Maifest. This golden bock off sets an Italian seasoned chicken breast and pairs perfectly with that fresh baked roll.
Ambers: Spring and Fall are times of balance, when we experience the equinox, and when many people like the nice combination of neither sweating nor freezing. As such, a well-balanced Amber just might be your thing. New Belgium makes perhaps the definitive American craft lager in Fat Tire. Biscuity, lightly toasted, with hints of caramel with just enough hops, Fat Tire is that makes friends with any type of food. I like it best with wings. Finding a beer that pairs well with Spicy Garlic and Honey BBQ are tasks unto themselves normally; but one that the soon to be 25 year old recipe of Fat Tire handles with grace and elegance. A nice alternative is Schell's Firebrick. This award winning Vienna style lager is a perfect pairing for a meatloaf sandwich or a juicy Lucy.
Blondes: It has been said that gentlemen prefer blondes, trust me, the two I am suggesting are loved by men and women alike. First, let me tell you about the first Blonde born in Iowa that I fell in love with. Sophisticated, complex, but approachable, she sure did look pretty, practically shining like an angel. Her scent was pleasant, perhaps a hint of banana, vanilla, and clove and she tasted every bit as good as she looked and smelled. Blonde Fatale by Peace Tree Brewing is the beer that beer snobs and brand new to beer newbies enjoy alike; and they are both right. There is a reason this fine ale won a World Beer Cup gold medal. Blond Fatale pairs perfectly with turkey sliders with a peach BBQ sauce on Hawaiian bread or even with a light fruit sorbet. Of course, love isn't always sweet. Sometimes it can make you bitter. For those times, I suggest New Belgium's newest seasonal Hoppy Blonde. Toasted sweet notes and a slowly building bitterness on the palette combined with the alluring aroma of grapefruit, tropical fruit, mango, and just a hint of dank pine on top of bready malt. Translation: yum! Pork tacos with mango salsa were practically invented for this beer.
Hoppy Wheat: When it comes to Summer, the sweet hint of wheat is a glorious thing. But wait, we are still in Spring, the season that promises Summer but still has a nip in the air. Soppy Wheat beers are exactly like that, sweet wheat with a tinge of bitterness. Out of Kansas City, Boulevard Brewing is best known for their Unfiltered Wheat. However, they also make a great hoppy wheat beer called 80 Acre. Refreshing, drinkable, and a great way to start appreciating hops, this beer has training wheels if you need them, but is fully capable of riding with the big boys. If 80 Acre is a great first bike, then Lil Sumpin Sumpin is a go cart. Faster than it looks, made with everything in the garage, and seemingly about to go off the rails at every turn, this big Hoppy wheat screams IPA at the beginning til creamy wheat and oats smooth and balance the beer out. 80 acre might be the perfect excuse to break out those pork chops and rub them down in rosemary and garlic. Our Lil Sumpin Sumpin from Lagunitas is made in Chicago and frankly, a Chicago style hot dog with the onions, relish, peppers, tomato, and mustard is a simple pleasure that will have you enjoying your Spring fever all over again.