One of the great things about craft beer is the wide variety of flavor profiles you can find. This is especially advantageous in places like New England, where different styles of beer enhance the changing of the seasons. Summer has light, drinkable beers like kolsch and wheat ales. The cooler fall temperatures lead to malt-forward marzen lagers and brown ales, along with the ubiquitous pumpkin beers. Nothing goes better with a cold winter night then some warm hearty food and a dark stout, porter or winter warmer. Spring is a little more tricky. It seems like many local brewers have well established beers for the other seasons, but are still trying to find the perfect spring style. I thought of a number of possibilities for a perfect spring beer, which I’ll outline here, before coming to my final conclusion (subject to change I suppose). In my opinion a spring beer needs to be light enough to complement a warm afternoon and an early season BBQ, but complex and substantial enough to hold up on a chilly evening. Here are a few styles that were considered for Hoppy Boston’s beer style of the spring:
IPA: IPAs go with all seasons. I will continue to drink and review IPAs year-round, so there is no reason to single out an IPA season. The same holds true for IPA off-shoots (Belgian IPA, Black IPA, Rye IPA etc.)
Pilsner: More of a summer beer for me. A lot of craft brewers are making delicious and complex versions of the pilsner style so I plan on drinking many as the weather gets warmer.
Altbier: The alt style has a nice balance between drinkability and complexity. The issue is the limited number of alts on the market. I’d be happy to take recommendations and check out some of the available altbiers this spring.
Witbier: Another great warm weather beer that is more of a summer beer for me. A few brewers have released witbiers as spring seasonals this year. I actually brewed a tasty one myself, perfect to drink on the porch as the days the get longer and less cold.
Pale Ale: My runner up, in a close call. Well done pale ales celebrate vibrant hops and balance. The style has good variety between hoppier American versions and maltier versions native to Britian. I might focus on Pale Ales next spring for the sake of comparison.
Hoppy Boston’s Ultimate Choice for Spring, Saison: The saison style has been among my favorites for a while. Originally brewed in farmhouses for field workers in Belgium and France, the style has pretty loose requirements. This allows craft brewers a lot of creative leeway – you can find very different malt and hop profiles. The one thing most saisons have are expressive strains of Belgian-style yeast that contribute significant flavor and aroma. Over the next couple of months I’ll taste and review a number of saisons (along with some other beers of course), and try to find some of the best available in the area. Feel free to pass along any suggestions in the comments or on twitter or facebook!