April 2, 2013 by fhsteinbart
The first shoots from the hop mounds poking above the ground signals the arrival of Spring. Time to shake off the last of the short, cold and dark days of winter and look forward to warming weather and longer days. It’s also time to say farewell to the strong and robust beers of winter and look forward to the lighter and loftier ales and lagers of spring. As in years past, this is the season when breweries roll out beers that are lighter in body and packed with flavors and aromas that remind us of the of the bounty blooming all around us. In many cases these beers come in lower in alcohol than their winter brethren, allowing us to enjoy them a little more frequently than the stronger winter ales they are replacing. Here are a few that have caught our attention in recent weeks.
Columbia Common – Widmer Brothers Brewing
This uniquely Northwest take on the California Common style of beer has a sparkling golden hue. Coming in at under 5% ABV this easy drinking beer prominently features Columbia hops, a nearly forgotten sister of Willamtte. Columbia carries with it a little more bitterness as well a slightly more emphasis on lemon zest flavors and aromas than it’s more popular sibling. This smooth, crisp and refreshing beer has a nice floral and citrus nose that’s sure to popular as we get closer to the warmer weather of summer
Red Chair NWPA – Deschutes Brewery
Another beer style given a Northwest twist, this Pale Ale features seven different malts that give this beer a bright copper color and a complex but not overpowering malt character. A slight amount of pine and a more dominant citrus note is noticeable on the nose of this beer while malt lends a hint of sweetness that somewhat masks the bitterness imparted by the use of Centennial and Cascade hops. At 6.2% ABV, this offering is a bit more robust than some of it’s other spring compatriots.
Tender Loving Empire NWPA – Fort George Brewery
This Northwest style Pale Ale was brewed in collaboration with Portland’s Tender Loving Empire record label. Brewed with organic 2-Row malt as well as Rye and Honey malt and generously hopped with Centennial, Meridian and Simcoe hops, this beer certainly continues the citrus trend in spring seasonals. The citrus is held in check from being overpowering by the spicy notes lent by the rye malt.
Secession Cascadian Dark Ale – Hopworks Urban Brewery
Bucking the trend towards light colored and moderately hopped spring seasonals, Secession Cascadian Dark Ale from Hopworks is a one-two punch of hop and malt character. Hopped with Amarillo, Cascade, Magnum, Mt. Hood and Simcoe, this beer blends spicy, piney, resinous and citrus hop characteristics to balance out the dark roasted black and chocolate malts that give this beer it’s complex malt character. With it’s bold flavor and a respectable 6.5% ABV, this beer is not to be treated lightly.
These are just a few examples of the many spring releases coming from breweries around the Pacific Northwest. Get out and enjoy them while you can. Like the early blooms of spring, they won’t last long.