Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).
One of the areas where the explosion of craft beer’s popularity has had its greatest impact is seasonal beers. Not only in the number of said beers coming onto the market, but when they’re released. I’ve often joked with customers over the years about waiting by my phone on August 1st for the calls telling me fall beers, Pumpkin Ales, Oktoberfest beers and the like are in, but it’s not so much a joke anymore. Timing is everything in this competitive market, and being on shelves a week before someone else’s seasonal offering can give you just enough time to establish your beer as a consumer’s go-to beverage for a whole season. This has resulted in earlier releases for many seasonal beers, which has caused some controversy among enthusiasts (then again, what doesn’t?).
The blurriest line in seasonal beer may be in spring/summer releases. Many breweries make beers for both seasons, but most will release separate spring and summer beers for their fans. Again though, consumers have run into issues with ‘spring’ beers having come and gone before the first perfect spring day. Regardless of whether or not something’s a bit early, the beers are gaining in popularity and selling out quicker, so don’t expect any change in this pattern anytime soon.
What should you be keeping an eye out for right now? Well, there are many summer beers that are already out there, along with some more appropriately-timed spring beers. Bell’s Oberon is a big one; brewed essentially throughout baseball’s regular season, this American Wheat Ale is refreshing and rich in flavor, and should be in good supply through August and into September. Anderson Valley Summer Solstice is a bit early this year, but welcome. Summer Solstice is a Cream Ale that clocks in a 4.5% ABV and goes down all too easy as the temperature goes up. New this year is Heavy Seas Sea Nymph from Baltimore; this light, crisp Golden Ale should be hitting stores and bars as you read this. Brooklyn Summer Ale is a classic light English Ale that pairs well with meals and should be seen through July or so. Sierra Nevada Summerfest is a favorite of mine; a refreshing Pilsner with bright pale malts and a nice string of hoppiness. The new (to us, anyway) Schlafly Summer Lager is going to be the BBQ beer of this year for those who give it a try. Of course, I can’t forget my beloved Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager, which will sell out at an absurd rate, but is my personal signal that the warm months have indeed arrived.
In the end, that’s all this is about anyway—finding the beer that gives you the ok to enjoy the changing weather. There are so many great seasonals out there now worth trying, it’s easy to find a great selection to try out and find your own muse. Remember, try everything you can get your hands on, but drink only what you like. Until next time.
Nick Anderson keeps a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx.