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

Pumpkin Ale Flights Soar At Sunset

Posted on October 8th, 2009

pumpkinFlights

As we discussed recently, pumpkin beer is by far one of the most popular beers of the fall. Each autumn countless brewers from the smallest craft brewer to the big guys over at Anheuser-Busch release their own take on this seasonal style. With so many different pumpkin beers out there to choose from the task of which one to have next time you’re at your local pub can be a bit daunting. In order to find your favorite pumpkin beer you certainly could simply try a full pint of each brewery’s version of pumpkin beer. With so many out there though that process could take you right through the fall and into winter and spring. A more manageable approach to becoming familiar with a style might be to try a flight.

A flight is several smaller portions of a beer served at the same time, typically four or five glasses containing 4 or 5 ounces each. It’s a great way to try several beers at once without investing a whole night’s worth of drinking, or the money associated with it.

Although still fairly uncommon, many beer bars will offer flights of their draft offerings in any combination of your choosing. One such place here in Boston is Sunset Bar & Grill, where Team Beeriety recently ventured to try some of this year’s pumpkin’s ales. This style typically fall into two schools: beers which taste like actual pumpkins, and beers which taste like pumpkin pie. Although beer which replicates the taste of real pumpkins is generally more difficult and sometimes more respected by beer snobs out there, both types can be wonderful and a great way to celebrate the fall.

pumpkin flight

Our flights consisted of four beers:

1. Clipper City The Great Pumpkin - At 8.5% Alc./volume this one packs a punch, but with its balanced flavors you’d never notice how strong it is.

2. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin - Another great brew with subtle notes of nutmeg mixed with roasted pumpkin

3. Dogfish Head Punkin – This fantastic brew takes it’s name not from punk rock but an annual pumpkin shooting contest in southern Delaware

4. Wolavers Organic Pumpkin - While this one was a bit sweet, we applaud the effort to make it organic which is tough for many brewers.

They were all great, but the two that we liked the best were Clipper City and Dogfish Head with Weyerbacher coming in a close third. These beers fell into the first school of beer which tastes like actual pumpkins.  They each had a crisp, mild sweetness combined with strong pumpkin flavors that gave the beer a clean, roasted quality, which is what we like in a pumpkin beer. We all agreed that Wolavers Oragnic Pumpkin was the least favorite of the batch. Even though it was more of a pumpkin pie beer than a pumpkin beer it was still way too sweet with not nearly enough pumpkin flavor to it. All and all though it was a great way to get a taste of the season and discuss our favorite beers.

Have you ever tried a flight of beer? What’s your favorite pumpkin beer? Next time you have one let us know by tweeting your beer and adding the ‘#mybeer’ hashtag.