It's the middle of January, the official start of winter is only a few weeks past and already the spring beer releases are starting to roll in. While it has been a mild winter with its share of surprisingly warm and sunny days, we've also had the usual run of dreary, overcast inversions. Those gray days might make you want to curl up with a good book and a hearty winter brew, but here's an alternative: Break out one of these new spring offerings and with its help let your imagination wander toward spring.
Deschutes Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale
This brew pours a cheery reddish orange with a thin head and aromas marked by floral hops, citrus and smooth malt. It's a beautifully balanced brew with a lovely mix of toffee, cherry, mango, citrus, light resiny hops and caramel-laced malt. It's a solid effort in what could become something of a benchmark for the style.
Samuel Adams Alpine Spring
This beer is a hazy straw color in the glass with a thin white head, but it offers a lively bouquet of soft hops, herb tea and citrus. It is definitely a refreshing quaff that goes down oh-so-easily. Of the three brews here, it most makes me think of spring. The crisp citrus flavors are backed by notes of yeast, wheat, tangerine and subtle but creamy malt. Here comes the sun.
Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye
Sierra Nevada's dark copper-hued ale throws a thick off-white froth with good retention. It's a bit reserved on the nose, but you do get nice hits of citrus, resiny hops and, as you would expect, rye. Things amp up considerably on the palate with a very forward and persistent hop bite blending smoothly with rye cracker, sweet malt, spice and orange zest.