Top 10 Spring Beers

By Bob Barnes

The Best Crisp Beers to Drink in Spring

If Groundhog Day heralds the end of winter, setting the clocks forward signals the beginning of spring. The additional daylight hours call for brighter flavors and sharper textures to wake up slumbering taste buds.

Choose from crisp brews, wheat ales and American IPAs, but hurry — GAYOT’s Top 10 Spring Beers won’t last ’til summer, so grab these favorites while there’s still time.

> The selections are presented in alphabetical order.

1. Brouwerij Het Anker Maneblusser

Brouwerij Het Anker Maneblusser

Origin: Mechelen, Belgium
Beer type: Belgian Blonde Ale
Price: $10 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 6.2%
Brewed by: Brouwerij Het Anker

This blonde ale from Het Anker was crafted as a tribute to Mechelen, the brewery’s hometown.

The brew’s name comes from a peculiar occurrence on the night of January 27, 1687. As the city was wrapped in a dense fog, the moon made a reddish glow on Saint Rumbold’s tower. A drunken man yelled, “Fire, fire, the tower is on fire,” causing a great stir. Before people reached the tower to extinguish the flames, the moon had already passed through the fog. From that moment, Mechelenians have been known as Maneblussers, or “moon-extinguishers.” The blonde ale is brewed according to the traditional method, and is refermented in the bottle. It has subtle citrus aromas and a crisp, clean finish.

2. College Street Big Blue Van

College Street Big Blue Van

Origin: Lake Havasu City, AZ, U.S.A.
Beer type: Fruit Beer
Price: $9 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 5.4%
Brewed by: College Street Brewhouse

College Street Brewhouse & Pub is based in Lake Havasu, and this bold American-style wheat beer is worthy of any spring break blowout.

The brew’s name is a reflection of its two dominant ingredients: blueberry and vanilla bean. The flavors harmonize nicely together before resolving in a long-lasting finish that lingers on the palate. Big Blue Van is both refreshing and intriguing, melding ingredients not often paired together. And while blueberry is usually a subtle flavor when used in beer, it is definitely not shy in this one.

3. Deschutes Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale

Deschutes Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale

Origin: Bend, OR, U.S.A.
Beer type: American Pale Ale
Price: $8 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 6.2%
Brewed by: Deschutes Brewery

Northwest pale ales are known for their use of hop strains grown in the fertile Willamette Valley of Oregon, the second largest hop-producing state in the United States.

Deschutes Red Chair benefits from liberal doses of the locally grown Cascade and Centennial varietals, which give the brew a sharp citrus punch. Its vibrant flavors can stand up to today’s IPA hop monsters, but a generous helping of malts adds enough balance to make the ale multidimensional. Named for the oldest operating ski lift on Mt. Bachelor in Central Oregon, this Red Chair offers a smooth ride without any overwhelming one-note bitterness.

4. Full Sail Session Black Cherry Black Lager

Full Sail Session Black Cherry Black Lager

Origin: Hood River, OR, U.S.A.
Beer type: Lager
Price: $7 for six-pack 11 oz.
ABV: 5.4%
Brewed by: Full Sail Brewing Company

This smooth drinking brew is part of Oregon-based Full Sail Brewing Company’s series of lower ABV session beers.

It’s a variation of its Black Lager, but with a dash of cherry. The fruit is noticeable in the aroma but subtle in the flavor, allowing the notes of roasty bittersweet chocolate to shine. Try pairing it with lightly grilled red meats, roasted root vegetables, lighter cheeses (such as brie, mozzarella and ricotta) and chocolate desserts.

5. New Belgium Citradelic

New Belgium Citradelic

Origin: Fort Collins, CO, U.S.A.
Beer type: IPA
Price: $9 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 6%
Brewed by: New Belgium Brewing Company

First released in January 2016, New Belgium’s spring seasonal marries Citra hops and tart tangerine peel.

It pours a bright orange color and wafts aromas of citrus, pineapple and pine up front, with lighter herbal and caramel scents coming through on the finish. Flavors of malty sweetness lead to fuller hints of well-balanced bitterness. It concludes with a clean, crisp finish, making this easy-drinking IPA a perfect companion for a spring day.

6. Schlafly Hoppy Wheat Ale

Schlafly Hoppy Wheat Ale

Origin: Maplewood, MO, U.S.A.
Beer type: Ale, American Wheat Ale, Wheat Ale
Price: $9 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 5%
Brewed by: Saint Louis Brewery

St. Louis Brewery, the largest locally owned and independent craft brewery in Missouri, brings us this unfiltered American wheat ale that uses two distinctly aromatic hops: Challenger for its fruity, floral profile and Mosaic for its earthy notes of pine and citrus.

The malt bill is a blend of wheat and pale barley, resulting in a very light appearance and a touch of zesty flavor compliments of the wheat. Unlike most beers of this style, it brings a hoppy bite that one would expect more from a pale ale or IPA than from an American wheat. Yet the wheat and light malt allow it to finish with a crisp and clean finish, offering a refreshing surprise to enjoy as the spring temperatures edge upward.

7. Sea Dog Sunfish

Sea Dog Sunfish

Origin: Portland, ME, U.S.A.
Beer type: American Pale Wheat Ale
Price: $9 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 4.6%
Brewed by: Sea Dog Brewing Company

Founded in 1993, this Portland, Maine, brewery features artwork celebrating both New England’s seafaring history and Barney, the company’s canine figurehead.

And, as with all of Sea Dog’s beers, a paw print is emblazoned on the bottle cap. First offered exclusively at Sea Dog brewpubs in Florida and Maine, Sunfish became a crowd favorite and was released nationwide in 2014. This light-bodied wheat ale pours a clear straw hue with a predominate aroma of peaches. Upon sipping, you’ll encounter a spritzy carbonation that tingles in your mouth and a subtle fruit flavor that’s slightly sweet without being cloying. The finish is dry and refreshing, making this beer an easy-drinking thirst quencher for a warm day.

8. Selkirk Abbey Infidel

Selkirk Abbey Infidel

Origin: Post Falls, ID, U.S.A.
Beer type: Belgian IPA
Price: $9 for 22 oz.
ABV: 8.2%
Brewed by: Selkirk Abbey

Located at the southern edge of the Selkirk Mountains in Northern Idaho near Coeur d’Alene, this brewery is the first in the area to produce Belgian-style ales.

With a motto of, “It’s not for the masses. It’s for you,” this creation adds Belgian yeast to the popular IPA style, making it a hybrid of American and Belgian brews. It pours an orange hue with an off-white head and delivers a piney, citrusy aroma. The flavor is similar to that of a hoppy American IPA, but in the background there’s also a dry spiciness that’s derived from the Belgian yeast strain it’s brewed with. As the beer warms, more of the maltiness and Belgian-style spice notes come through, with the hops continuing to hang around on the back of your palate.

9. Ska Brewing Modus Mandarina IPA

Ska Brewing Modus Mandarina IPA

Origin: Durango, CO, U.S.
Beer type: IPA
Price: $9 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 6.8%
Brewed by: Ska Brewing Company

A unique twist on the IPA style, this brew is named for the generous portion of Mandarina Bavaria hops it uses, which impart a mandarin orange-like flavor.

Continuing the theme are sweet orange peels added during brewing and the bright orange packaging. The first impression after pouring is an orange-hued appearance and an entertaining nose, which is akin to walking through an orange grove. Upon sipping you’ll enjoy citrus flavors along with pronounced dry hop bitterness in the lingering aftertaste. While orange takes center stage in this beer, there is enough robust bitterness to stand up to pairings such as grilled or smoked meats.

10. Widmer Brothers Hopside Down IPL

Widmer Brothers Hopside Down IPL

Origin: Portland, OR, U.S.A.
Beer type: IPA
Price: $9 for six-pack 12 oz.
ABV: 6.7%
Brewed by: Widmer Brothers Brewing

Hailing from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the Hopside Down IPL is named for the unique style of brewing.

Using aggressive hops, this beer is cold-fermented. This fermentation process marries the clean, crisp finish of a lager with the hoppy character of an IPA. It pours a light golden color, displays faint floral aromas and boasts pine and citrus flavors.