After a cold, wet, sometimes weird winter, spring arrived this month with sparkles of sunlight and bursts of blooms. Suddenly, it looked like March might go out like a lamb. Then the cold came again, with some snow flurries trailing behind…
Whatever the weather, early spring is a time to enjoy the overlapping of darker and lighter seasonal beers. What was once a traditional time of maibock drinking has become a craft beer celebration of anything goes. That means there’s always something crisp and refreshing to sip perched at a beer garden on a clear afternoon or something hearty and boozy to savor huddled by a fire pit on a brisk night.
Here’s an early spring beer almanac to forecast your seasonal drinking schedule:
Boulevard Grainsorm Black Rye IPA — Though it’s dark in color from roasted wheat malt, this IPA with 7.7 percent alcohol by volume, or abv, is all about the rye, which shines through in all its spicy glory. Simcoe, Bravo, Amarillo and Citra hops impart plenty of aroma and bitterness, playing off the rye in a bold but balanced way.
Founders All Day IPA — Hoppy but not but high in alcohol, Founders says this 4.7 percent abv IPA “keeps your taste satisfied while keeping your senses sharp.” In release from March until September, it’s a full-flavored session brew that’s perfect for an afternoon of pints at the pub.
Highland Devil’s Britches — A midwinter seasonal that makes a hearty bridge to spring, this 6 percent abv IPA pours a deep ruby red, with plenty of bitterness from the addition of Apollo hops, and earthy, spicy, fruity notes. Ashburne Mild malt balances the bitterness with toasty, biscuity flavors.
Samuel Adams Alpine Spring — This unfiltered German-style 5.5 percent abv lager will make your non-craft-beer-drinking friends happy from spring to summer. Bright and crisp and brewed with Noble Tettnang hops from the foothills of the Alps, it’s smooth and refreshing but surprisingly not wimpy.
Sweetwater So Fine Red Wheat Wine Ale — In honor of Sweetwater’s 16th anniversary, this limited-edition Dank Tank release is an 11 percent abv big boy brewed with 45 percent wheat. The malty sweetness is balanced by a hefty dose of Amarillo, Willamette, Nelson Sauvin and US Goldings hops.
Terrapin Mosaic — Side Project Volume 19 is a limited-release 6.6 percent abv red ale brewed with a single hop variety known as Mosaic. The experimental spawn of the Simcoe hop delivers complex, citrusy aromas and flavors backed by a nice variety of malts, including Munich, Rye and Crystal.
Classic City Brew Fest
One of the great harbingers of spring also happens to be one of the Southeast’s longest-running beer-tasting festivals. The Classic City Brew Fest in Athens has been going strong for 18 years, offering a fun, intimate setting at the Foundry Park Inn. There, you can sip and learn about some 300 great craft beers from around the world. Curated by cask ale expert Owen Ogletree, the cask ale pavilion is a big draw, with 15 one-off beers made just for the event. Tickets $39.99, available in advance only at: classiccitybrew.com/. 2:30-6 p.m. April 7. 295 E. Dougherty St., Athens. 706-549-7020, foundryparkinn.com.
— By Bob Townsend, AJC Drink blog