With spring comes thirst for a refreshing beer. Ale in particular lends itself to the season, being bright in flavor as the flowers are in color but not too heavy to drink outside in the sun. We recommend going for one or a couple dozen of the many great American craft ales, something unique with a nose of citrus or bourbon. Here are five of our favorites for sipping while enjoying the longer, warmer days.
The only canned beer on this list, Sweet Action proves that aluminum does not make beer suck; careless production does. Skillfully crafted in Red Hook, the Sixpoint Brewery staple shows imagination and finesse. A Mad Science recipe, the drink prides itself on being hard to place. Sweet Action is 5.2% alcohol, lightly hoppy, and medium in amber. It’s creamy yet crisp with detectable notes of both honey and citrus. In short, this Brooklyn favorite is a perfect spring refreshment.
A drink that will have you singing, Figaro is a Northwest-style beer brewed in Portland, Oregon, by Cascade Brewing. The strong blonde ale is aged in Chardonnay barrels for a year and then aged again with dried white figs and lemon peel for another annual cycle. The libation that comes out is worthy of the word libation. Sweet and sour with its blend of grape and citrus, Figaro is a true sour beer. The special recipe is made on rotation, and the 2013 batch (aging on the shelves across the USA according to Beer Menu) is 9.5% alcohol.
Crafted in Lexington, Kentucky, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is aged in charred bourbon barrels from distilleries such as Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey. The beer occupies a fresh barrel for up to six weeks, absorbing characteristics particular to its batch. What comes out is a well-rounded, strong ale with woodsy, vanilla, and caramel notes to balance out its 8.19% alcohol content. Now the trademark beer of Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company, the distinct flavor is made year-round. Aside from actual bourbon, this is the best drink to sip while cheering for your winning bet in the 141st Kentucky Derby.
Hibiscusicity is named after the state flower of Hawaii and Stone Brewing Co.’s Stochasticity Project. The Hawaiian inspiration stems from one of its special ingredients, and the long, tongue-twisting word refers to the experimental line brewed and bottled in Escondido, California. A “Belgian-style ale with hibiscus flower and orange peel,” the beer blends pale malt and wheat malt, magnum and sterling hops, and floral and citrus notes. The resulting drink is earthily sweet and balanced with 7.4% alcohol. The tropical concoction even has a sunset-like look: tinted rose-pink and topped with a white head of foam. Brewed once, the uncommon flavor is available in limited quantities from select beer shops.
Kent Falls Brewery is a relative newcomer to the world of handcrafted, environmentally friendly beer production. The operation is based in Kent, Connecticut, where the owners manage a farm on the same site. The team grows their own hops, draws water from their private well, and sources grains and other ingredients from fellow local agriculturalists. Striving to make their business as sustainable as possible, they use a solar hot water system, reuse some of their wastewater to hydrate open grassland, and repurpose their spent grain on-site. Most of the soaked grain is fed to chickens, and the leftovers are then composted to be used as fertilizer in their respective hop yard, apple orchard, and greenhouse. Aptly named Field Beer, the second batch of their seasonal ale has just been released. To get a taste of it, you will have to visit the East Coast, as the young Kent Falls Brewery currently self-distributes only in Connecticut. Go if you can. New England is beautiful this time of year.