Beer World – Spring 2016

Spring Has Sprung in the Beer World

Well, that seer of seers and prognosticators of prognosticators Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year, which hopefully means we’ll have an early spring, and while the jury’s still out on whether or not the groundhog is correct, spring has definitely sprung in the beer world, no matter what the thermometer says.

From Helles Bocks to light and fruity IPAs, spring has definitely spring in the beer world and we have the proof. Check out our favorite springtime beers below as hand-picked by Beerman Tony from Vecenie’s and celebrate our favorite marmot’s prediction.

Anderson Valley Brewing Co.

Spring Hornin’ IPA – As the flowers start to come out, a great floral IPA is just about perfect, and Anderson Valley’s Spring Hornin’ IPA is just that. Light in color and big on taste, you should notice floral aromas along with white pepper, and Bartlett pears followed up with a taste that has a strong, clean malt body and herbal hop flavors. The finish is nice and dry, with just enough bitterness to be refreshing.

Spring Hornin’ comes in at 6.8% ABV and is brewed using Columbus, Golding, Nugget, and Northern Brewer hops. Spring Hornin’ is a great beer for the season, and should be at the top of your list. Spring Hornin’ pairs well with Fish and chips, roasted lamb, peppery Korean beef, and even oatmeal raisin cookies.

Briny Melon Gose – A beer style that’s gaining notoriety once again is the Gose (pronounced go-sah). These beers are slightly salty with a tart character that’s akin to a sour beer, but more tart than sour. The folks over at Anderson Valley Brewing Company have brewed a few varieties of this classic beer style, including this brand-new version that’s bound to please.

The classic gose is paired with subtle watermelon to give this beer a perfect harmony between acidity and fruity sweetness. The finish is nice and dry, giving you a beer that’s both tart and sweet without any lingering sweetness on the finish. As with others in the style, this new gose comes in at 4.2% ABV and is available in bottles, cans, and on draft.

Bell’s Brewery

Smitten Golden Rye – Rye is a very unique ingredient for beer. It imparts a spiciness and body that’s unique to the grain, and when used correctly it can make a truly amazing beer. Bell’s Brewery made their Smitten Ale featuring rye to bring out these exact characteristics. On the nose you’ll notice peppery rye spiciness along with a noticeable bready aroma. The taste has rye up front with a nice citrusy hop character following it up. All of this sits nicely on a malt backbone that’s all about bready malt. The rye imparts a creamy mouthfeel that finishes the beer up perfectly.

Bell’s Smitten Golden Rye Ale comes in at 6% ABV and is available only during the spring and early summer. Smitten is a great example of an interesting take on the traditional American Pale Ale with a nice rye malt twist. Smitten Golden Rye Ale pairs very well with strong cheeses, salty snacks, and savory meats.

Dogfish Head Brewing Co.

Romantic Chemistry – It’s a pretty big understatement to say that the bread and butter of Dogfish Head Brewing Company’s beer lineup is the IPA, but it’s the truth. This wildly popular style is once again being refreshed and made even better, this time by brewing the beer with mango, apricot, and ginger. Together these flavors and aromas join forces to make a beer that’s one serious IPA! Coming in at 8% ABV, this beer will be available in 12-oz bottles and on draft now. If you were a fan of Aprihop, then this beer is right up your alley.

Beer to Drink Music To – The folks at Dogfish Head love their music almost as much as they love their beer. They’ve collaborated on quite a few music-inspired beers in the past, and keeping with this trend is the oddly named Beer to Drink Music To.

This new seasonal beer is a Belgian-style Tripel that’s brewed with sweet orange peel, green cardamom, peppercorns, and vanilla. Look for this 9% ABV beer on draft and in 12-oz bottles very soon.

Otter Creek Brewing Co.

Citra Mantra – A newer style that’s been gaining popularity is the India Pale Lager, or IPL. Similar to the IPA, just made as a lager instead of an ale. You still get the fresh bitterness of an IPA, but with the crispness and light body of a lager.

Otter Creek Brewing’s Citra Mantra is their take on the IPL style, featuring Citra hops. This gives the beer a fresh citrus flavor along with a crisp bitterness. Along with the tropical fruit character, the choice of German malts gives the beer a unique body that makes it easy to drink. The 5.75% ABV helps you to have more than one in a sitting, too. Make sure you get this one quickly though, because just like spring, this beer won’t be around long. Citra Mantra pairs well with spicy dishes like Mexican and Thai, as well as savory Italian dishes like chicken parmesan.

Steampipe (new) – A new beer for 2016, Steampipe from Otter Creek Brewing takes the classic California Common beer style and brings it into a year-round rotation at Otter Creek. Inc ase you’re not familiar, the California Common beer style is a style of beer that’s also known of as a “Steam Beer,” and as the name suggests, originated in California.

This 6% ABV beer has a juicy kick of west-coast hops paired with the well-balanced beer style make for an easy-drinking beer that has enough bitterness for fans of the IPA to love as well as those who enjoy less bitter beers.

Stone Brewing Co.

Pataskala Red X IPA – Pat-as-kal-ah…Pa-tas-ka-la…Patas-kala…However it’s pronounced the beer under the label is where it’s at, anyway. This unique red IPA was first brewed in September of 2015 to support music and arts education programs in none other than Pataskala, Ohio where Stone’s co-founder Greg Koch grew up. It was such a hit that Stone decided to release it to the rest of us, too.

The red part of this beer’s name comes from the dark crimson color the beer pours, which comes from the malt variety used in brewing. This, paired with a massive dry-hopping of Mosaic, Cascade, and Amarillo hops give this beer a citrus-forward flavor that’s backed up with biscuit and toffee notes. Coming in at 7.3% ABV and 75 IBUs, this is one beer that you don’t want to miss, even if you can’t pronounce it. Stone Brewing’s Pataskala Red will be available in 12oz bottles and on draft.

Americano Stout (new) – As Stone Brewing often does, the trend of springtime beers has been bucked with the release of a big and dark stout. This 8.7% ABV beer is a true American stout that has rich espresso added to give the beer a heavy dose of bitterness along with the creamy near-sweetness of espresso.

Every 250-barrel batch of this beer brewed utilizes more than 250 pounds of espresso-roast beans. This, paired with Columbus, Chinook, Amarillo, and Cascade hops give the beer a resiny citrus character that pairs very well with the coffee. In short, this is one dark beer you won’t mind drinking even when the weather starts to clear.

Straub Brewing Co.

Maibock – Straub Brewing of St. Mary’s, PA brews some pretty amazing beers, which shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the brewery. One of their newer offerings is a 6.9% ABV all-malt Maibock.

Straub’s Maibock is literally a bock beer released in May, and this version is brewed using a combination of German and American ingredients. The nose is full of caramel and malty aromas with a little hop character to balance things out. Taste follows the taste, but adds a little more hop to back up the big malt taste. Maibocks pair very well with a variety of foods including cheeses like Gruyere, meats like ham, seafood, and even deserts like carrot cake.

Legacy Sampler – Straub Brewery has been in the brewing business since 1872 and today they’re not only producing quality beers that have been around for much of their history, but new and innovative beers as well. Take for example their Legacy Sampler, a mix pack of beers that show the history of Straub Brewery better than any history book ever could. The sampler includes their 1872 Lager, a 5.4% ABV pre-prohibition style lager, longtime favorite Helles Lager, a 5.5% ABV lager, Dopplebock, a 7% ABV Winter Bock, and Their 5.6% ABV IPL, Straub’s take on an India Pale Ale, but in the lager style.

Tröegs Independent Brewing

Cultivator – With the ground thawing, it’s time to start cultivating the ground and get those crops planted. Not into the whole farming business? That’s fine, you can still join in with Tröeg’s Cultivator Helles Bock.

This 6.9% ABV lager is a fresh and crisp beer with just enough hop bitterness to be refreshing. Brewed with floor malted Bohemian Pilsner malt and Hersbrucker and Magnum hops, Cultivator is possibly the perfect spring beer. The malt body gives the beer a little more meat than a typical lager while still staying light enough to be delicious.

Cultivator pairs very well with a variety of cheeses including Asiago, Colby, Gruyère and Swiss. The malty sweetness and clean, dry finish of the beer also complements spicy dishes like Thai or Korean BBQ, shellfish, and a variety of fried foods.

Victory Brewing Co.

Anniversary 20 IPA – Once again the folks at Victory Brewing have created a beer to celebrate their anniversary. Sticking with the idea that a sessionable beer is best for a celebration, their 20th Anniversary beer is a 5.5% ABV IPA.

This refreshing IPA might clock in at the top of what we’d call sessionable, but it drinks like a beer you could enjoy all night long, if you catch our drift. This beer utilizes experimental Idaho 7 hops to give the beer a surprisingly crisp citrus and pine character while keeping nice and balanced with the choice of Pilsner and CaraPils malt. This beer is out now and should be available through March on draft and in bottles, so get it while you can.

Each of these beers are proudly distributed in and around the Pittsburgh area by Vecenie Distributing.