Photo from DogsAtBars.com
Winter is finally loosening its grip and I’m thinking less of stouts and porters and more of drinking beers on my porch, in the park, on the roof—wherever there’s a patch of sunshine, really.
It’s also a good time to do some spring-cleaning in your fridge, so clear out those bottles that have been collecting dust, and make way for something fresh and new.
Here’s my picks for what to look forward to this season.
CRANBERRY BLEND | DOWNEAST CIDER | 4.9% ABV
This canned cider from Charlestown-based cider house pours murky and pinkish, with low carbonation. It’s sweet without being overpowering, and has a touch of tartness. I’m always surprised by how quickly I put one of these ciders back, and considering that you can hardly taste the alcohol, you could probably pass it off as breakfast juice. Not that I’ve thought about doing that or anything.
LA GRANDE | BANTAM CIDER | 6.9% ABV
From the makers of the dry, effervescent Wunderkind, comes La Grande, Bantam’s first barrel-aged offering: a blend of local apples, including the French heirloom apple Reine de Pomme, fermented dry and aged in rum and bourbon barrels for four months. It’s golden straw in color, unfiltered and unfined, and very dry. There are bourbon and oak notes, though I wish they came through a bit more, but still, a complex and enjoyable cider.
THE ABCS | JACK’S ABBY BREWING | 7.5% ABV
Framingham-based brewery Jack’s Abby continues their dominance in the hoppy lager category with The ABCS, a Double India Pale Lager (IPL) brewed with Apollo, Bravo, Calypso, and Simcoe hops. Dig your nose in deep for citrus aromas and piney hoppiness, then gulp it down for more of the same—citrus and pine—followed by lingering bitterness. They don’t teach this kind of tastiness in school.
LEFT OF THE DIAL IPA | NOTCH BREWING | 4.3% ABV
Full disclosure here—I had this beer for the first time on draft in a liter mug (which can fit about three American pints) after running a 5K on Session Beer Day. As any runner can tell you, beer tastes better after a run, but this is one of the finest post-run beers I’ve had. It’s got the hops you crave (made with Citra, Galaxy, Simcoe, and Centennial), without bowling you over with resiny stickiness or sweetness.
RITE OF SPRING | ENLIGHTENMENT ALES | 6.8% ABV
Made with wild yeast and local honey, Rite of Spring is a lovely saison from Lowell’s Enlightenment Ales, brewer of biere de champagne. If you like that funky character you get from the wild yeast Brettanomyces, you’ll enjoy the subtleness of that strain here, as well as a bit of sweetness. Perfect for a picnic, really.
SAISON RENAUD | MYSTIC BREWERY | 6.5% ABV
Keeping the yeast love alive, Renaud showcases Mystic’s house yeast, also named—you guessed it—Renaud. They brewed it with pilsner malts, which step back and let the yeast do its thing, and Saaz hops, noble hops from Germany. With medium to high carbonation and a lighter body, you might want to keep this one around well into summer too.