Five Alternative Spring Brews

Posted on March 24th, 2010

Spring is officially here and that means it’s time for a fresh crop of seasonal beers. Many breweries release their springtime beers this time of year to coincide with the new season. There are plenty of other delicious brews out there that go great with this time of year, so here’s a look at five alternative spring beers:

Marzen – German for the month of March, this style is closely related to the Oktoberfest style, as traditionally March was when beers were brewed for Oktoberfest. Today some brewers will make separate batches to be enjoyed in the springtime. These beers are usually very mild with a dark copper color. They have a slightly sweet, delicate taste and very little hops. Overall it’s a light and crisp style that’s as great in the fall as it is now. Try Spaten’s version to get the classic example of the style. Ayinger also makes a very traditional version. Victory has a nice bold American craft take on it as does Abita.

Maibock - This style is perhaps the lightest of the bock family of heavy German lagers. It’s got a light body with slightly sweet flavors and a moderate hop profile. Dead Guy Ale is probably the most well known version of this style, although it tends to be a bit sweeter and stronger than most. Smuttynose does an interesting version that’s worth a try. Flying Dog’s Heller Hound Bock is also pretty refreshing.

Witt – As we discussed on Thursday, there’s been a lot of attention in this style recently thanks to the popularity of Blue Moon (which many don’t realize is made by Coors.) These beers offer a wonderfully fruity and crisp wheat flavor that’s a great introduction to folks new to the world of craft beer. There are some great craft wits out there, including the Ommegang Witte, Allagash White and Blanche De Chambly from Unibroue.

Saison – Also known as farmhouse ale, this style was once originally brewed to be consumed during the hot summer months while doing farm work. Whether you’re a farmer or not, it’s still a great style to enjoy any time of the year. These beers are light and extremely crisp with a spice that comes from herbs and spices  used in the beer. The sharp but sweet flavors are one of my favorite spring beers. Dupont is the classic version of this Belgian style. Their Foret version is also pretty tasty. Hennepin from Ommegang is a fantastic American craft version, as is Smuttynose’s Farmhouse Ale.

Cream Ale – Traditionally a poorly regarded style, there have been a number of brewers in recent years who have redeemed this one’s standing. They are extremely creamy while still being relatively light and pleasant. Sam Adams does a great version, as does Anderson Valley with their Summer Solstice. If you can get your hands on Lagunitas Sirius ale, you’ll be sure to enjoy it.

This is just a few of the great brews that go well with this time of year. What’s your favorite beer this time of year? Next time you try it, let us know by tweeting your beer and adding the #mybeer hashtag

Top 5 Most Influential Beers

Posted on November 5th, 2009

prizes

Today we’re going to take a look at the five beers that most define they way we think about beer. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, they have shaped what beer is for the average consumer.

bud2Budweiser – Regardless of how you feel about Budweiser, you can’t deny the huge role it has had in creating the modern American beer landscape. Wherever you are in the US, you can find a bottle, can or draft of Budweiser. Sure, Bud Light has replaced Budweiser as Anheuser-Busch’s signature brand, but it was good ol’ Bud that paved the way. A-B won over the masses thanks to Bud’s universal availability and year after year of clever commercials. Although certainly not the first light lager, Budweiser’s own special blend of corn and rice makes for an “easy to drink” beer that’s great for folks that don’t really like beer.

guinGuinness – It’s hard to overstate the influence of Guinness stout. For many (including myself), it was the first non-light lager beer they ever tried. In many ways it can be thought of as a gateway beer, introducing many to the world of beer beyond Budweiser. They’ve accomplished this with their velvety smooth texture and lightly roasted flavors. Although Guinness has a reputation as an extremely heavy beer, it’s deceptively smooth and light, which makes it dangerously easy to drink.

anchorsteam_bottleAnchor Steam –  The original American craft beer. As we mentioned on Tuesday, Anchor Steam was the first brewery after Prohibition to brew without adjuncts or fillers, making it the first craft brewery. When Fritz Maytag bought the failing Anchor Brewing Company in 1965, he probably had no idea it would lead to the craft beer movement, but it did. Anchor Steam showed the world that American beer could be unique, substantial and delicious. The beer itself is a lovely hybrid of the best qualities of ales and lagers. It combines the light and smooth aspects of lager with the warm, round flavors of ale. It’s certainly worth a try.

samSam Adams Boston Lager – While Anchor Steam was the first American craft brewery, Sam Adams was the first to expand their distribution  to a national scale.  This enabled almost everyone in American to get a taste of lager done the proper way. Without any adjuncts like corn or rice in their beer, Sam Adams became the first American lager to be sold in Germany under their strict beer purity law, the Reinheitsgebot. Sam Adams lager is notably hoppy for a lager, something the company takes considerable pride in, which they should.  It’s delicious.

sierra_nevada_pale_ale_35clSierra Nevada Pale Ale – Over the last ten years, much of the experimentation and innovation among craft brewers has happened in the realm of hops, and this is the one that started it all. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is one hoppy beer, even by pale ale standards. It delivers a massive hop taste that’s citrusy and floral, really showcasing what hoppy beer can be. Their signature use of Cascade hops also helped usher in that variety as the American hop.  To this day, most American IPAs and pale ales have some Cascade in them.

What beers have really influenced the way you think about beer? Where do these beers stack up in your Top 5? Leave us a comment and let us know what your favorites are and where we missed the mark. And as always next time you have a brew let us know by tweeting what you drank and adding the ‘#mybeer’ hashtag.