There's been so much gray this winter, I've almost forgotten what color the sky is supposed to be. And while it's officially spring, that hasn't stopped the snow from falling or the temperature from dropping below freezing. So it seems a bit strange that most breweries' spring releases are starting to disappear from the shelves while they begin to roll out the beers of summer.
Seattle-based Red Hook Ale Brewery has been on the scene for a quarter of a century. Once one of the darlings of the microbrew world, Red Hooks seems to have lost some of its appeal in recent years. And while a distribution deal with Budweiser helped put them in most every state, connecting themselves with the No. 1 industrial brewery tarnished their rep a bit. New packaging is helping them gain back lost ground, and if their latest Copper Hook Spring Ale is any indicator, the future looks bright. With its light malt and smooth red clover aromas Copper Hook smells like a fresh spring day. The flavor profile is soft and fruity finishing with a nice bit of mineral and bitters. This clean, crisp lightly hopped charmer is the perfect spring quaffer.
If you're looking for something with a bit more bite to it, try the Deschutes Brewery's Cinder Cone Seasonal Ale. Located in Bend, Oregon, Deschutes has a well-deserved reputation for quality and craft, producing one of the finest line-ups of beers in the Northwest. The Cinder Cone offers up bright citrus aromas with hints of caramel. The flavors are all creamy citrus backed by a big mouthful of heady hops, toasty malt and toffee. An utterly refreshing brew worth the weight in you pack when venturing out for a day of spring corn snow skiing.
One of the first summer releases to hit Boise is Alaskan Brewing's Summer Ale. At their home base in Juneau, temperatures this time of the year should top out around 40 but aren't expect to fall much below freezing, so you can see the pressing need for a lighter styled seasonal. The Summer Ale is a golden-hued brew with soft malt aromas laced with touches of green apple. Very subtle, almost ethereal flavors unfold in the mouth, striking an impeccable balance between the smooth malt and the light hops. It's something like an industrial brew in body but with a lot more character including nice touches of clove and alfalfa. It might make you think the chilly spring breezes are warmer than they are.