What beer to drink in spring

What beer to drink in spring

Written by Oliver Coningham on 26 April 2015 in Seasonal Drinks

Spring is a transitional time of year and heralds the end of a cold winter. Along comes the hope of warmer and lighter days as the sun rises earlier and sets later. It's the time to come out of hibernation and embark on new endeavours with a zest for life.

To some it may seem an odd concept to change what we drink depending on the season, but take a moment to acknowledge how you already change your diet as you eat seasonally. You may be starting to replace the abundant brassicas and roots of winter with fresher vegetables including spring greens, salads and new potatoes.

The drinks to look out for are those that reflect everything we sense around us at this time of year. Think vibrant citrus, lemon and tropical fruit flavours, or the aroma of fresh cut grass and fragrant blossom. Work with the inherent characteristics of spring and try to find a balance of lightness and strength in what you drink. It's not quite time for the refreshing, light drinks of summer. Instead we need those that alleviate our thirst on a sunny day, but also provide enough strength and flavour to see us through the last of the cool evenings.

In terms of beer it's time to put away the deep, dark stouts and porters and instead embrace pale ales, IPAs and the unusual German bock. The former usually contain more hops and are floral and citrusy in both aroma and taste, yet still have a strong malt backbone offering caramel and toffee sweetness. The latter is a relatively uncommon style in the UK having originated in Germany, but is often associated with this time of year. Although the history of this style is still fairly unknown, they were said to be brewed in German monasteries to provide nourishment to monks during times of fasting. There is a particular substyle, the Maibock, that is associated with spring and is lighter in colour with slightly more emphasis on the hops.

Bottles of Cornish Bock, Leaping Legend and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Leaping Legend from Badger is a blend of traditional British Fuggles with the citrus character of American Amarillo hops. The combination results in a beautiful golden beer that is both fresh and hoppy. Citrus and grapefruit aromas literally leap out of the glass from the American hops alluding to the name of this beer. The taste is a burst of fresh grapefruit and tangerine at first which advance to a satisfying, biscuit-like, bitter finish.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the classic American Pale Ale that is said to have defined a generation of beers, pushing the boundaries of aroma and taste usually found in your standard pint. Perfectly balanced, it showcases the floral and citrus American Cascade hop (amongst others) to beautiful effect. Pine needle, grapefruit and floral aromas bloom from the glass leading you into a slightly spicy taste followed by juicy oranges. As it slowly warms up the sweet caramel and toffee notes from the malts are revealed.

Historically brewed in Einbeck, Germany, St Austell’s Cornish Bock is a full-bodied, strong malty lager. Primarily available through their online shop it is well worth seeking out as one of only a few breweries that produce this style in the UK. It is brewed in springtime and slowly fermented to develop its clean, caramel taste. There’s an initial sweet aroma with lots of fresh hay and hints of grass from the Saaz hops. Evocative of a late evening walk in spring as the dew sets in. The fresh aromas shift to the sweet caramel and malt taste. The relatively high alcohol content makes this perfect for drinking on the cooler spring evenings, warming you up from the inside. 

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