Spring, when the warm air breathes new life, is a season to savor. But too many people have their remotes locked on fast-forward, rushing from point A to point B, ignoring the joy of the journey along the way. And, even though many breweries have already rolled out their summer seasonals, I'm in no hurry to abandon the pleasure of the spring brews still on the shelf. Here are a few favorites—all but one hail from Oregon and all are priced under $1.25 a bottle.
Colorado's New Belgium Brewing eschews the idea of seasonal brews, arguing their special releases don't fit the category. Still, their Loft Beer is available only in the spring, so go figure. All in all, it's a refreshing mouthful of tight hops and smooth malt, with the clean, crisp flavors balanced by a long, creamy finish. Just the thing to help shake off the doldrums of winter.
Deschutes Brewery in Oregon offers their Cinder Cone Red Ale—darker than the Loft with a richer, amber color. The flavors are bigger as well, but are still a good match for spring. Roasted wheat and caramel overtones match the lightly bitter hops, with notes of dark coffee and a touch of vanilla.
Full Sail also goes the red route with their Switchback Red Ale. The amber tones are a bit deeper than the Cider Cone and the aromas are just on the sweet side. But the emphasis is on the toasted malt and smooth barley flavors, with a nice kiss of citrus on the clean, dry finish.
Widmer Brothers Spring Run IPA fits somewhere in between the Loft and the Red Ales in terms of weight and flavor. Golden-hued, it offers smooth hop aromas and flavors, with lightly sweet malt and a very clean finish. Less assertive than most IPAs the Spring Run is unabashedly seasonal and the perfect match for Pasta Primavera.
A spring brew with legs, Bridgeport Brewing's Pintail Copper Ale is available from January to September, when their Ebenezer Winter Ale takes over. The color is not quite as bright as a freshly minted penny, but copper is definitely the appropriate descriptor. This is an exceptionally refreshing brew, with peach accents, soft hops, and subtle touch of lemon on the finish. Should hold its own from spring through fall.