The cold bitter winter has passed. You definitely need to switch up your beer selection now that spring is officially upon us. Gone are the imperial stouts and heavy porters that warmed your cold heart in December and in come the saisons and pale ales to refresh and break you out of your hibernation. Here are a few to get you a head start.
Boulevard Brewing Spring Belle Saison, 6.2% ABV
This limited ale pours a clear golden color with a smallish pure white head. It falls fast and left little to no lacing on the glass. Carbonation in the brew is visible and can definitely be felt with each swig, adding a fresh taste. Smells of bread and delicate rose permeate from the glass. The floral scent is not overbearing as I expected it to be. The first taste is sharp, almost peppery, but lingers into a floral aftertaste. The carbonation makes for easy passage, but let this one warm up as the tasting notes definitely show themselves more then.
Brooklyn Brewery Sorachi Ace Saison, 7.2% ABV
Brooklyn Brewery can do no wrong, as I’m sure most New Yorkers think. Their lager: outstanding. The chocolate stout: bodacious. Their Oktoberfest: I digress. This particular beverage threw me for a loop. I knew it was something completely different as it uses the Sorachi Ace hop which was developed by a Japanese brewery in the 1970s. Along with the name, the bottle sold it to me as it looks a lot more “expensive” than it is, the haughty person I am. It pours a foggy straw-like color with a dissipating head. This was a very hard beer to pinpoint as it went in different directions. It could be a super yeasty belgian in one breath and a funky, sharp saison in the next, not to mention the addition of the Japanese hops. The peppery lemon scent continued through the first mouthful, as well as grassy undertones. I am still baffled by this because it is not something you understand on the first or even seventh sip. Maybe it is not something to understand— just drink!
Rising Tide Brewing Maine Island Trail Ale, 4.3% ABV
I have been conditioned from a young beer snob age to drink canned craft beers out of cans (Heady Topper, anyone?). But what if the other side of my beer snobbery wants to put it in a glass? Well, it’s going in there. And that’s exactly what I did with this Rising Tide Ale. Cracking it open, the smell of fresh cut grass is pungent. After pouring the hazy flaxen colored beverage into a glass, the scent aerates and becomes less concentrated, transitioning into a well balanced brew. It’s quite bitter, but the carbonation makes it palatable. I would liken this more to an IPA than a pale ale, as it’s prescribed. There are no detectable malt characteristics, so this is a crisp, easy drinkin’ start-of-the-warm-weather beer.
21st Amendment Hell Or High Watermelon Wheat, 4.9% ABV
I am most certainly not a fruit beer drinker unless it’s a lime in a Corona, and even then I’m skeptical. It was recommended and I had seen it on multiple beer snob lists, so of course I had to try it. I poured this canned beer into a glass (again, beer snob) and wasn’t hit with a watermelony scent as I was expecting. It might have to do with the fact that it uses natural watermelon juice instead of artificial Victoria’s Secret Watermelon Juice. The cloudy pale yellow hue filled the glass and subtle breadiness was detected, and that was all that I could really smell. There was a nice even carbonation that would definitely make this, along with the low ABV and undetectable bitterness, a seasonal beer. I noticed the more I let it sit, the more the scent began to intensify. I could smell the sweet juiciness of the watermelon, but it was definitely not overpowering. It just combined two of some of the worlds greatest things: beer and watermelon. This brew is available until September and definitely should be enjoyed until then.
Ithaca Cayuga Cruiser Berliner Weisse, 4.2% ABV
Everyone is up in arms about sour beer—me included. So I was intrigued to sample Ithaca Beer’s take on a Berliner-Weisse, something slightly out of the ordinary for them. It’s a particularly low alcohol beverage, but makes up for it in complete zany tasting notes. The cloudy golden hue makes way for a head that is more Free Fallin’ than Tom Petty. The smell is definitely fun-ky and has that distinct yeasty smell. The tart smell pulls through to the taste, as well as lemony notes. Tart and dry, like sucking on a stale Warhead, in the best way possible. It hits the back of your throat like a wasabi bomb, attacking your senses—isn’t that the best? The sour taste doesn’t last as long as you think it would, and maybe that’s a good thing as it allows this drink to be pretty…drinkable. Perfect for that weekend getaway on the Cayuga Lake in your cruiser. Wait, it sounds like this beer is going somewhere.