Spring beers sprout up

Crack one of these open and ignore the weather outside

By Megan Kehoe / The Bulletin


Published Feb 21, 2014 at 12:11AM / Updated Feb 21, 2014 at 06:06AM

Bonus brews to put a spring in your step

New Belgium’s Spring Blonde

A lighter and crisper version of spring than some seasonals, the Fort Collins, Colo.-based craft brewery’s Belgian-style golden ale carries a 6 percent ABV.

Deschutes Brewery’s Fresh Squeezed

Not a seasonal beer, as Fresh Squeezed will be a year-round release, but this hoppy, refreshing IPA hits shelves in March, just in time for spring.

It’s the third week of February in Central Oregon. There’s still snow on the ground, the trees are still bare and there’s still cold and cloudy days in the forecast.

But every once and a while, the sun shows its face, and you get the sense that warmer days might not be too far off.

Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

But the calendar says spring is now less than a month away, which, in the beer world, means its time to savor seasonal spring beer releases only available this time of year, no matter what’s happening outside your window.

Breweries tend to differ when it comes to seasonal release dates, but this year saw some spring seasonals, like Samuel Adams’ Cold Snap white ale, hit store shelves the first week of January ­— part of an increasingly popular beer-industry trend to get seasonals out to the public months ahead of the actual season. Some breweries have held back a little longer, but most spring beers are now available, replacing winter beers that tend to stop selling right after Christmas.

Spring seasonal releases are often overshadowed by other seasons that are easier to define in terms of flavor: Summer lends itself to refrehsing and light beers. Fall brings out pumpkin and spices. Winter evokes darker, roasted flavors.

Spring flavors are more open to intrepretation.

“For whatever reason, there’s kind of a lull in the seasonal releases this time of year,” said Jeff Hawes, co-owner of The Brew Shop. “I’m not sure why, but everybody seemed to fall in line that way. A lot of breweries focus on gearing up for summer.”

But just because spring doesn’t have the same beer momentum as other seasons doesn’t mean there aren’t some fine spring seasonals to choose from. Here are a handful of locally available seasonal spring beers that you should enjoy before summer beers start crowding the shelves, based on recommendations by Hawes and Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Cafe’s Jason Powell.

Ninkasi Brewing’s Dawn of the Red

This India Red Ale has a pleasantly strong 7 percent ABV and 75 IBU rating, but balances that with gentle flavor hints of pineapple and mango. Like a warm southerly breeze in the dead of winter, Dawn of the Red sums up spring pretty nicely.

Oakshire Brewing’s 0’Dark:30

Defined as a Cascadia Dark Ale, this seasonal by the Eugene-based brewery has a 6.3 ABV content, an IBU of 70, and is dry-hopped with Cascade and Centennial Hops. Rich and malty, but with a crisp and bitter flavor thanks to the hops, this beer shines in the cold days of early spring.

10 Barrel Brewing Co.’s Project: Failed

Though the nitro part of this beer failed, giving it its name, this brew is far from a failure. The award-winning red ale goes down easy, and at 6.7 ABV, works nicely in snow, wind, rain or sunshine.

Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye

First released in spring of 2012 by the Chico, Calif.-based craft brewery, this copper brown-hued IPA is brewed with rye and comes in at a 6.6 percent ABV and a light 55 IBUs.

Deschutes Brewery’s Red Chair

This classic, award-winning 6.2 ABV spring seasonal pale ale captures what spring’s like in Central Oregon to an absolute tee. Available through May.

— Reporter: 541-383-0354, mkehoe@bendbulletin.com