Northeast Times

Spring Beer Roundup

With the weath­er warm­ing up, Think Beer…Drink Beer colum­nist Tim Pat­ton takes a look at the beers of spring.

I hope you’ve star­ted get­ting your gar­dens planted, herbs pot­ted or hops in the ground, be­cause spring is fully upon us.

And in these warm­er months, after hard, hot hours of work in the garden, what bet­ter way to re­ward your­self than with a great beer? 

Luck­ily, sea­son­al spring beers are turn­ing up on tap and in bottles all over the neigh­bor­hood.

Gen­er­ally, spring beers are light­er than the winter ales you’ll see dur­ing the colder months. Light, re­fresh­ing styles like sais­on, pils­ner and kolsch are good ex­amples of spring­time beers. 

Of course, port­ers, stouts and strong Bel­gian beers don’t dis­ap­pear en­tirely. One of my fa­vor­ite things about Phil­adelphia is that even in the middle of the sum­mer, I can al­ways get a Rus­si­an Im­per­i­al Stout on draft.

Now, I’m al­ways a fan of keep­ing it loc­al, and all of the Philly brew­er­ies of­fer something for the spring sea­son. 

The Fleur de Le­high from Phil­adelphia Brew­ing Co. is as cer­tain a sign of the com­ing of spring as the bud­ding trees. 

Spiced with ginger, chamo­mile, lem­on grass and more, this un­filtered Bel­gian is one of my fa­vor­ites. Yards Brew­ing Co. has its own sea­son­al beer, simply called “Sais­on.” 

This farm­house-in­spired ale is brewed tra­di­tion­ally, with no spices or season­ings, just Bel­gian malt and candi sug­ar. 

The sug­ar gives it a light­er body, and the sais­on yeast can give it over­tones ran­ging from fruity to pep­pery.

I haven’t tried this year’s batch, but it var­ies a bit each year, and pre­vi­ous years have gone from very sais­on-like to closer to a Bel­gian Triple.

Manay­unk Brew­ing Co. of­fers its own sea­son­al farm­house ale, the Biere de Mars. This is a slightly dark­er and much mal­ti­er beer than most sais­ons; it is like a light­er dub­bel. Manay­unk’s de­scrip­tion men­tions wild yeast in the re­cipe, but I mostly taste the malt in this one.

Delaware’s Dog­fish Head has two sea­son­al beers out this spring. The Apri­hop is a mild IPA that is brewed with apricots. 

The fla­vor of the fruit is no­tice­able but pleas­ant, and not over­power­ing. This year they also have a beer of­fer­ing called the Tweason’ale, which is a rare find — it’s a glu­ten-free beer that ac­tu­ally tastes good. 

Brewed with sorghum, buck­wheat honey and straw­ber­ries, the fact that it is sour is why I think this glu­ten-free beer works.  The sour­ness cov­ers the in­her­ent sweet­ness of sorghum.

Vic­tory Brew­ing Co., out of Down­ing­town, has a few sea­son­al beers, such as the Whirl­wind Wit and the St. Bois­ter­ous bock. 

For spring drink­ing though, I feel their year-round la­ger is un­der­rated. A simple, light la­ger, this beer is re­fresh­ing and fla­vor­ful without be­ing over­whelm­ingly hopped or too strong.

Hop-heads (i.e. beer fan­at­ics like my­self) eagerly an­ti­cip­ate the re­lease of Troegs Nug­get Nec­tar in the winter, and luck­ily we still have some of this highly hopped am­ber ale turn­ing up on tap. 

The Fly­ing Mou­flan, Troegs’ spring re­lease, is de­scribed as “push­ing Nug­get Nec­tar off the side of a cliff.” 

A 9.3 per­cent ABV bar­ley­wine, ex­pect this to turn up in April.

An­oth­er highly an­ti­cip­ated spring beer comes from Bell’s in Michigan.  Their Ober­on wheat beer is so well-re­garded that I’ve seen bars an­noun­cing its re­lease on their In­ter­net pages. 

Keep an eye out for this one, since it will prob­ably go quickly. While this isn’t a sea­son­al, Ithaca Beer’s Flower Power al­ways makes me think of the sea­son. 

This IPA is hoppy, but not too hoppy, with a cit­rus-y and grapefruit fla­vor com­ing from the hops. 

It fin­ishes very clean, without too much linger­ing malt fla­vor.

Event Alert: Two great events com­ing up on April 7. 

First is the 17th an­nu­al “Split Thy Skull” bar­ley­wine fest­iv­al at Tat­tooed Mom (530 South St.) from 1 to 5 p.m.  It’s pay-as-you-go, and beers are served only in sample-size flights, which is good since last year the beers were all 9.5 per­cent ABV and up. This is con­sist­ently one of my fa­vor­ite beer events in the city. 

Note the loc­a­tion, be­cause pre­vi­ous years have been at Sug­ar Moms.

Also that day is the “Gos­pel, Soul and Rhythm-n-Blues Re­view” at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 Frank­ford Ave.) at 8 p.m.

A cel­eb­ra­tion of DJ DNA’s 20 years spin­ning roots mu­sic on the show Gos­pel Train and the Roots of Rhythm and Blues on WRDV (tune to 107.3 FM), the event fea­tures R&B artist Carlton Lewis and Philly’s own York Street Hustle and God’s Grace. 

V.I.P. tick­ets in­clude a meet-and-greet with the bands and an hour of free Ken­zinger and Walt Wit from 7 to 8 p.m. 

All of the rest of the great loc­al beer at Johnny Brenda’s will be on tap as well. ••

Tim Pat­ton is a Fishtown res­id­ent, beer afi­cion­ado and brew­er. His column is ded­ic­ated to show­cas­ing everything that is great about en­joy­ing beer in the river­wards. He can be con­tac­ted at tim@stben­jamin­brew­ing.com

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