Yes, the flowers are blooming and trees are budding, but here’s what’s really important about spring: your local breweries are pumping out tasty seasonal brews. We’ve sorted through the field of spring beers and found eight exciting seasonal releases and suggested a local food that pairs well with each beer. Eat, drink, and get dirty.
Sierra Nevada • Mills River, N.C.
This March, Sierra Nevada is releasing a variety pack with four different IPA’s in a variety 12 pack. You’ll probably recognize the Torpedo, Sierra Nevada’s popular IPA, but you’ll find three new beers in the pack, the Snow Wit White IPA, Blindfold Black IPA, and the Nooner Session IPA, which has a lighter body and lower alcohol by volume than your typical IPA, but is still loaded with citrus and grapefruit flavor from the whole-cone American hops. Lighter IPA’s go great with grilled asparagus and mushrooms from local farmers.
Maggie’s Peach Farmhouse Ale
Terrapin Beer Company • Athens, Ga.
Terrapin’s spring seasonal hits the shelves in April, and Terrapin, which is known for its fun-loving experimentation, pays homage to its home state by dropping 10 pounds of peaches per barrel into this wheat beer. It’s an easy-drinking, slightly sweet, slightly tart beer that explodes with peach notes. Douse a salad of fresh greens with a vinegar based dressing to cut through the sweetness of the Peach Farmhouse.
Foothills Brewing • Winston-Salem, N.C.
The maibock is a traditional German spring beer, known for its malty-sweet character and (typically) high alcohol content. Gruffmeister doesn’t disappoint with big hits of malt in this deep, golden beer that has been classified as “dangerous,” because it’s incredibly easy to drink, but has a wicked ABV of 8.5 percent. Can’t wait for May? Foothills has introduced an IPA of the month club, promising a different fresh, experimental IPA every month. Find the March IPA at the brewpub or in big bomber bottles. Maibocks work well with seafood. May we suggest a big bowl of shrimp and grits?
Hi-Wire Brewing • Asheville, N.C.
Everyone loves an IPA in the spring, and brewers are typically happy to accommodate. Hi-Wire, one of Asheville’s newest breweries, is falling all over themselves to deliver that fresh hop goodness in their new, seasonal Double IPA. You can expect soaring IBU’s and an ABV that nears the 10 percent mark. This is a serious beer for serious hop-heads. Bitter, citrusy Double IPAs pair well with smoked beef and sharp cheeses.
El Hefe Speaks!
DC Brau • Washington, D.C.
El Hefe is a traditional German-style hefeweizen that’s become one of D.C.’s most welcome seasonal’s, thanks to DC Brau’s flawless execution of the beloved hefe style. It’s a hazy beer, with light notes of banana and a crisp, carbonated finish that screams for warm weather and a sunny patio. It’s easy on the hops and relatively sessionable at 5.3 percent, so it goes down easy on a warm day after a long run or ride. Look for it this spring in cans and 22-ounce bombers. Hefeweizens go hand in hand with light food (salads, chicken, seafood) and soft, rich cheeses.
Blue Mountain Brewery • Afton, Va.
Take your standard pilsner (light, crisp, easy drinking) and crank it up to 11, and you get UberPils, an imperial pilsner with 7.5 percent ABV and an unexpected, but welcome, 40 IBU’s. You’ll find plenty of malt backbone followed by a bit of fruity citrus from the hops. This is the pilsner for people who think pilsners are for pansies. Look for it on draft and in big, 750ml bottles in March and April. It’s hard to find a food that doesn’t pair well with a pilsner, but bratwurst is the classic coupling. You’re in luck, Blue Mountain has a restaurant with a killer local bratwurst that’s boiled in its own lager, sandwiched in a locally-baked bun and topped with kraut and ale mustard.
Center of the Universe Brewing • Ashland, Va.
This Vienna-style amber lager pays homage to the Richmond Flying Squirrels, a double-A minor league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. It’s a session beer, malty but crisp, with a low ABV (4.5 percent), made for warm weather and long days. Center of the Universe (COTU) is a young, but growing brewery—the Richmond Squirrels served their Ray Ray’s Pale Ale last season. The beer launches March 1 on draft and in cans. Ambers pair well with salty snacks and grilled meat. In other words, most of the food you’ll find at a baseball game.
Little Red RooStarr
Starr Hill • Crozet, Va.
Most breweries lean toward IPA’s and hefe’s when the weather turns warm, but Starr Hill is going the other direction by bringing us their dense and delicious Little Red RooStarr coffee cream stout beginning March 1. You’ll get everything you want from a milk stout—notes of chocolate, caramel, and a strong malty backbone that’s balanced by locally roasted coffee. Find it in 22-ounce bombers. Coffee stouts are great with dessert, particularly chocolate.