When the dark days and barren trees of winter finally give way to the brighter skies and blossoming buds of spring, that’s your cue to trade your scarf for some sunglasses and those pants for a pair of shorts. It’s an annual time of transition in which the world clears out what’s old to make room for what’s new, and in keeping with the spirit of the season, many of us will even give our homes a once-over too. This year, include your beer selection in your spring cleaning and stock up with some brews that’ll complement the floral atmosphere.
We’re talking beers loaded with tons of citrus flavors and spice: lagers, saisons, and even a session beer or two. Because let’s face it. By this point on the calendar, you’ve had plenty of porters and enough coffee stouts to make a barista blush. Of course, if dark is your druthers, by all means — do your thing. However, don’t pass up on the opportunity to restock your fridge with something that’ll give your palate a little wake-up call. After all, you might just discover a new favorite. One thing is for sure, though — our guide to the best spring beers will give you a head start in finding it.
Jack’s Abby Blood Orange Wheat
Jack’s Abby is one of craft beer’s leading lager authorities, exclusively working with brews that are in traditional German style. A strong adherent of authenticity, the Massachusetts-based brewery exclusively sources its hops from Bavaria each year and only uses time-tested old-world techniques. In the case of Blood Orange Wheat, they’re giving you a crisp, refreshing radler (like the German equivalent of a shandy) that comes in at an easy 4%. Pouring a reddish amber color, its nose first hits you with notes of citrus before the palate delivers a spicy blood orange flavor bomb.
Troegs Nugget Nectar
Okay, so Tröegs’ Nugget Nectar is technically a special seasonal winter brew, but we like to think it’s one that’s best enjoyed during the early days of spring (assuming it’s not long gone by then). For though this imperial amber technically started out as a birthday gift to Brewmaster John Trogner from himself, it’s quickly established itself as one of the Hersey, Pennsylvania brewery’s hottest annual releases. Dry-hopped with Nugget, Warrior, Tomahawk, Simcoe, Palisade varietals, makes for an excellent complement to citrus fruits and root vegetables because of its grapefruit, resin, and pine-rich flavors.
Ever since Allagash White started hitting shelves in 1995, it’s served as a staple within the craft beer world, quickly becoming one of the Maine-based outfits best-selling brews. When trying this Belgian-style witbier for yourself, make sure to give its yeast a good rousing. In addition to stirring up the sediment throughout the body, it also makes for a much lighter color with plenty of pillowy texture in the mouthfeel. As you’d expect from the style, it’s crisp as all get out and has notes of yellow apple, pear, and lemon peel.
Perennial Saison De Lis
Saisons are welcome any time of year, but when spring’s in full swing it helps to have one that’s packed full of floral flavor. Artisan ale specialist Perennial’s Saison De Lis does just the ticket — it combines a traditional Belgian-style yeast with an herbal chamomile infusion that makes it almost tea-like in taste. Be prepared for a lot of earthy flowers up front followed by a palate that’s just a little bit tart and a finish that’s dry and refreshing.
Lagunitas A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale
This Lagunitas ale is something of an oddity within the world of craft beer, for its hoppy-yet-wheaty profile means that it’s as much an IPA as it is a lager. Naturally, then, A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ should appeal to fans of both styles, because it combines the best of both worlds without being overwhelming. First offering notes of tangerine, lemon, and wood, it follows it up with bready malt, piney spice, and a lingering bitter finish.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
When all else fails, you can never go wrong with a Sierra Nevada. As the OG of the modern craft movement, their Pale Ale is a beer that needs no introduction. A true American classic, it exemplifies the style to a T, with whole-cone hop varietals offering a well-rounded experience that’s bold, juicy, and consistent from can to can. If you’re looking for something that’s tried and true, just pick up a six-pack of these — the subtle fruitiness and hop-forward flavor make for quite the crowd-pleaser.
Founders All Day IPA
Session beers are perfect for spring and summer because you can throw back a few without the worry of catching too much of an unwanted buzz. However, where most options on the market taste like little more than watered-down hop extract, Founders’ All Day IPA proves a welcome exception to the rule, with heaps of citrus aromas and a bitter, almost-sappy taste. Hop-heads be warned — at under 5% ABV, it’s never going to be a hard-hitter, but then again it’s not supposed to be. Rather, this mellow All Day IPA is meant for kicking back, resting your feet, and taking off for the afternoon.
Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout
While stouts are a brew typically best enjoyed during the winter months, that’s not to say that their thick, malty mouthfeel is out of place on a cool spring evening. Rather, as you’ll find with Left Hand Brewing’s Milk Stout, there’s ample cause to be had for sipping on something supple and dark after a long day at work. And besides, this one’s sweet enough that it’s not overbearing, delivering rich notes of dark chocolate with an extra helping of caramelized sugar and fresh coffee.
Victory Brewing Prima Pils
After setting up shop in an old Pepperidge Farm factory back in 1996, lifelong friends Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski wasted no time putting together an exhaustive lineup of wildly popular beers. One of Victory’s cult favorites, Prima Pils incorporates a variety of different German hops for a brew that’s classically pilsner yet also uniquely its own. Crisp and easy-drinking with a complex, hoppy flavor, this is one beer that’s well worth a look if you’re after something a bit different.
Firestone Walker Amburana Parabola Barrel Aged Stout
Sure, a 14.6% barrel-aged stout might seem like an unusual choice for a springtime beer, but one sip of Firestone Walker’s Parabola is all it takes to make you a believer. For though it’s high in alcohol content and rich in bourbon taste, the added time spent in Brazilian Amburana wood balances out the booziness with some baking spice and proves a welcome complement to the hints of cinnamon and vanilla peppered throughout the palate.
Ommegang Idyll Days Pilsner
Grab a book, pack yourself a picnic, and fill a cooler full of pilsners, and you’ll be set with everything you need to enjoy a relaxing spring afternoon. As the product of Belgian-style expert Ommegang, Idyll Days is one brew that’s a clear cut above the rest. Made with authentic Czech barley and fermented using lager yeast, the result is a beer that’s hazy golden-yellow in color and rife with lemon, grass, and spice. Because it’s a bit hoppier than most lagers, it doesn’t come with the same malty sweetness that you’d expect of the style.
Bell’s Oberon Ale
Named after Shakespeare’s medieval faerie king in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this Bell’s beer offers an ideal thirst-quenching pour as the weather continues to warm up. Hazy orange-yellow in color, it combines a low ABV with a balanced profile to result in a classic take on an American wheat ale. Given its citrusy-spice taste — heaped with orange zest and coriander — you’ll be surprised to know that it’s made with only four ingredients (none of which are fruits or spices)
Brouwerij West Dog Ate My Homework
If you find the above saison from Perennial to be a bit too subtle for your liking, we’d recommend Brouwerij West’s Dog Ate My Homework because of its punchy fruit-forward flavor. Pouring a beautiful dark reddish-purple with a lighter magenta-hued head, its palate is chock-full of tart blackberry while its finish balances things out with just a bit of herbal hops. Because of its light, airy body, this is one beer that’s especially delicious on a warm day.
Mikkeller Brewing Passion Pool Gose
When Mikkel Borg Bjergsø first started Mikkeller, it was little more than a kitchen side project to his primary job as a schoolteacher. However, before long, his bold, experimental style earned him no shortage of international acclaim, with Beer Geek Breakfast taking the top spot amongst a long list of other noteworthy stouts. In the case of this Passion Pool Gose, you’ll find the nose to be almost explosive in its passion fruit flavor, with some lactose and doughy vanilla to follow it up and a finish that’s decidedly dry.
Rogue Dead Guy Ale
At the end of the day, there’s no better way to welcome the onset of spring than with a bock — especially when it’s Dead Guy Ale. Brewed with Rogue’s proprietary Pacman ale yeast, it makes for a beer that’s flavorful, malty, and bready in the best way possible. It might not be the most complex offering on the market, but you can’t help but appreciate its simple caramel sweetness.