Champions of Spring

The weather is finally starting to cooperate and the shiny object in the sky has at last returned. Following a some recent events, such as Fred Fest, that have highlighted high gravity brews, we’ve decided that now is the perfect time to enjoy some sessionable and refreshing brews fitting for this great Spring weather.

The Bruery Hottenroth Berliner-Weiss: brewed in memory of Fred and Sarah Hottenroth, Bruery founder Patrick Rue’s grandparents, this tart German-style Berliner Weisse is as indicative of the style as any American brewery has made it. Using lactobacillus and a hint of brettanomyces to add a nice sharp tartness, Hottenroth’s low gravity (3.1% ABV) wheaten body makes it perfect for sunshiny days. Some folks prefer the traditional raspberry or woodruff syrup to counterbalance the tartness. Last we checked, The BeerMongers still had this beer pouring and offer the raspberry syrup as well. The Hop & Vine should keep this beer as a regular throughout the summer as well. The Bruery says “Almost an extinct style, we hope to help revive the Berliner Weisse in memory of two great people.” They would be proud. Prost!

MacTarnahan’s Lip Stinger: This effervescent and rustic farmhouse ale is another unique brew to enjoy right now. A limited release ale for spring and summer months, ‘Stinger is fermented with cracked peppercorn to introduce a luring spicy nose and warming mouth feel derived from effervescent DuPont yeast and a Malaysian and Indian peppercorn blend. Get it while the gettin’s good, as this 4.8% Saaz and Mt. Hood hopped brew won’t be ’round for ever.

Vertigo Cyclone Cream Ale: Last summer when the mercury gauged 100+ degrees Fahrenheit, we were stoked that this beer was on tap in our home keggerator system. Cyclone is a light crisp summer ale brewed with Pale and Crystal malts, balanced with late additions of Saaz and Mt. Hood hops. We enjoyed playing around with flavored syrups with this brew as well to give it fruity character. The Vertigo brewers also produce an Apricot Cream rendition of this wonderful brew that beat out Pyramid’s Audacious Apricot in a head-to-head competition at Henry’s Tavern in Portland. Brew ya!

Widmer Sunburn: Widmer Brewing keep on pace with what’s doing on the the modern world of brewing. Unlike other breweries who have been around since the early days of the craft brew revolution, these folks continue to evolve with today’s ever-changing palate. Likely the next trend in brewing is the “slow beer” movement. This 4.8% ABV, 20 IBU seasonal brew comes light with the booze, but heavy with the flavor. A truly smooth, refreshing, and sessionable ale, Sunburn is light in color, body, and bitterness but carries a vibrant aroma through the Citra hop. Says Widmer: “Citra is aptly named for its thirst quenching citrus flavor and aroma. Sunburn Summer Brew is lighter in alcohol, full in flavor with a crisp finish making this a great beer for any summer afternoon” and we concur. The brewery accurately claims that this new beer goes well with “Yardwork, flip-flops, Backyard BBQs, front porch swings, and lighter dishes like Grilled Halibut with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette, Orange Glazed Chicken, Grilled Scallop Kabobs, and chips with fresh salsa.” Summer in a bottle is here.

Redhook Rope Swing Summer Pilsner:  This traditional Czech-style brew is the first pilsner Redhook Ale Brewery has ever released and is quite refreshing. Rope Swing  is  soft on the palate and with bready crisp malt flavors (Pale, Carapils, Caramel, Munich malts are used) that are offset by a nice addition of Saaz hops (25 IBU). This spring and summer forget the adjuncty macros and reach for this beer, designed to pair well with barbecued chicken, bratwurst, spicy food, fresh fish, and green salad. Some beer geeks who only give merit to  high gravity barrel-aged brews may overlook this and other readily available beers by Redhook, but that is foolish considering you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better brewery anywhere in the world.

Upright Four: Upright Brewing’s lightest, most sessionable year-round beer is the wonderfully crafted Four. With its name indicative of the beer’s specific gravity (1.040), this Northwest take on the French farmhouse style is a real gem when it comes to warm weather quaffability. Brewmaster Alex Ganum accurately describes the Four as “truly a light yet flavorful beer.” The recipe uses a healthy percentage of wheat malt with Munich and Pale malts, and incorporates a sour mash into the process that is less aggressively tart than, say, a Berliner-Weiss, but equally as refreshing. “It has delicate aromas and flavors that span a range of floral, grassy and herbal notes” says Ganum. This is, in part, due to piquant and floral small additions of Hallertauer and Mittelfrüh hops. “The finish is extra dry and makes the beer a great beverage to pair with food, especially various cheeses and shellfish.” At 4.5% ABV, the Four will allow you to remain upright longer than with other brews. Try it at the Portland Farmers Market by Portland State University, Saturdays all summer long.

Black Star Double Hopped Golden Lager: Started by Minott Wessinger, fifth generation brewer and great grandson of Henry Weinhard, The Great Northern Brewery that makes Black Star, was built. The goal was to continue a family tradition and produce the finest hand crafted lagers available. Mission accomplished. After 7 years of brewing Black Star in Whitefish, Montana, Wessinger chose to stop production in 2002 when other projects didn’t allow him to give Black Star the time and energy it deserved. He decided to put Black Star in hibernation with the hope of one day being able to bring it back. Fast forward to 2010…Black Star has returned to brewery kettles, and in February Minott Wessinger and company reintroduced the beer in light of the beer’s 15th Anniversary of its first brewing. With a mild citrus and grassy snap, this straw yellow brew is a stellar way to beat the heat.  Look for it in both 12 ounce cans and bottles. Yeah!

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