7 Beers for Spring

Some spry, surprising beers to herald (and cheers to) spring


Many of us aren't seeing evidence of spring just yet, but the season is almost upon us. And with any luck, we'll be getting more flowers than showers over the next few months.
Whatever we get, the best method for handling the arrival of a season is to find the beverages that complement it well. Breweries release their seasonal offerings every year, and this one’s no different. In fact, we noticed a lot of new spring options in 2013—and some that are just always a sure bet. So we're cracking open beers designed for warmer spring weather, with styles to accommodate higher temps. 
After wading through the selections to help you find a great beer for the season, here are our seven favorite beers for spring. 

Beer glass image via shutterstock

#7 Swing Session Saison

A new submission from the Downington, PA brewery, Swing is a sessionable saison-style beer. Typically a moderate-alcohol beer, saison is a popular style for this season. Victory took the zesty, spicy style and dropped the ABV down to 4.5 percent, allowing for a beer that can be enjoyed throughout a long drinking session.

Victory's style is not only lower in alcohol, it also features German and American hops that enhance the lemon citrus notes and peppercorn spices. To top it off, this beer is a fantastic partner for mussels.


#6 Dig Pale Ale

Introduced last spring, this pale ale from the Fort Collins, CO brewery is a zingy brew that uses five different types of hops. The flavors are bittersweet, featuring the bitterness of citrus along with some candied sweetness. There's also an earthy grassiness in this beer that will remind you of a spring picnic.

Drinking this throughout spring will help you settle into the warm weather before it gets too hot (and you have to move on to the summer beers). When you crack one open, consider drinking it alongside a dish of Hawaiian-style pork, a pairing that comes highly recommended.


#5 Road Trip

Spring at SweetWater Brewing in Atlanta, GA is probably a tad warmer than spring in many other parts of the country. But the brewery's seasonal brew Road Trip fits in pretty much anywhere you can find it (it's available in six states in the southeast), and then some.

This year's relatively low-alcohol brew (it's good to avoid high alcohol in hot weather) is a pilsner that features three styles of hops and a delicious combination of citrus and herbal flavors. Unlike most pilsners, this brew was actually fermented at high temperatures. The process delivers a spicy finish. Altogether, it'd be a good pal to Pan Asian cuisine.


#4 Mudslinger

This brown ale has been around since 2003, but it's had some identity issues over the years. Last year, the beer was released as Nut Brown; this year, the brewery changed its mind and went back to Mudslinger.

A reference to the rain and mud of the season (especially that found in Washington State where the brewery originated), this brown ale is a smooth and refreshing brew. Chocolate, caramel and brown sugar essences all get a play in the flavor—which would team up really well with a plate of Camembert and crackers.


#3 Spring IPA

When it comes to the spring season, New Orleans' own Abita Brewing likes to go bold. In years past, the spring seasonal of choice in NOLA was a hoppy red ale. But that all changed early this year when the brewery announced in January that this hoppy IPA would become their new beer of spring.

Inspired by the West Coast-style IPAs, which are made with large doses of hops, the Spring IPA has an aggressive hop flavor following a mildly sweet maltiness. The bite that comes from two types of hops will enhance spicy flavors, so pair this brew with hot Mexican dishes for best results.

#2 Columbia Common: Spring Ale

Another new beer this season, Columbia Common employs a hop that was nearly extinct before the Portland, OR brewery grabbed ahold of it. The beer is an excellent representation of the California common or steam beer--an American style with a malty character and an amber hue.

The Columbia hop (that nearly extinct hop we mentioned above) imbues a grassy but spicy flavor that is met with a crisp finish and a mild fruitiness. The beer partners well with barbecue or tangy cheeses.



#1 Tartan

The first brewery to operate in Alexandria, VA since Prohibition, Port City opened two years ago and is already popular in Virginia, the D.C. area and other mid-atlantic states. And they’re releasing this Scottish ale just in time for Tartan Day, the Scottish heritage celebration on April 6.

In beer speak, this is an 80 shilling-style Scottish ale. The style earned its name in the 1800s when beers in Scotland were taxed according to their strength. An 80 shilling tax apparently meant a sessionable and malty brew, featuring mild fruit and caramel notes. This is a limited-release beer, but if you can get your hands on it, try it with some haggis or maybe just some fish and chips.

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