Your guide to seasonal spring beers


Spring is the opening of life after a long season of cold and hibernation. The first moment her senses delight in the fresh scents of spring air, she jumps. It is an intense experience for me every year. Spring is a time of excitement, of paroxysm, and I believe that spring beers reflect that enthusiasm… the perfect complement. Winter beers always seem spicy and heavy to me, like a thick blanket, but spring beers are a step further, if you will. They are crisp, floral, like citrus, as lightly alive as the scent of new leaves on trees or flowers in bloom. Here’s a list of beer styles perfect for spring:


There are many styles of bock beer, but this beer, Maibock, is made specifically for the transition between cold winter and hot summer. May means “May” in German. The German Beer Institute perfectly describes this beer:

“While most Bockbiers are dark amber to hazelnut brown in color and have an excessively malty accent, Maibock is brewed entirely from pale malts for a warm golden hue. It’s also more aggressively hopped than other bocks for a more rounded finish. refreshing finish. Thus, the Maibock, like the vigorous month of May, is a transitional brew. It still has 6-7% alcohol like its winter cousins, but its brightness and bitterness already herald the perpetually blue skies of summer when the straw-blonde Helles and the pale and dusted Weissbier predominates.”

For this style, after much consideration (because I can’t wait to find a good maibock to enjoy this year), I think I want to try the Hofbräu München Maibock. rates this beer pretty high relative to the number of people who rate it. It’s got everything we want: a bit of maltiness and fruitiness up front with a toasty malty finish and a hint of hops. Sounds delicious.


Here we have a medium bodied, malty flavored beer with a light hop profile. You can find a lighter Märzen (Helles) and a darker Märzen (Dunkles). It is served in a glass, cup or jug, and must be cold.

Märzenbier is as the name suggests: March beer, but the story is quite interesting. Märzenbier used to be (1500) the beer used for Oktoberfest. During the summer in Bavaria, the temperature was too warm to successfully brew without airborne pollutants spoiling a batch. To get around this dilemma, Bavarian brewers made additional batches of Märzenbier in winter for March, before summer. Leftover beer was stored in cellars or ice caves to keep it cold during the summer. At the end of the summer, in October, when the new grains and hops are harvested, the Bavarians had to consume all the leftover Märzenbier in order to put their new batches of beer in the barrels. Tada! oktoberfest!

Since the times do not call for avoiding the summer heat, the Märzenbier made in March is not used in Oktoberfest celebrations. Most Oktoberfest beers are brewed for 6-8 weeks. However, this does not mean that we cannot enjoy beer! Take this opportunity to celebrate Spring with this beer and its history.

Most labels will read Märzen-oktoberfest, but if that’s uncomfortable for you, Gordon Biersch Märzen is a great choice. The Beer Advocate also has an excellent list of qualified Märzenbiers to try.


What better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than with a spontaneously fermented fruit beer. Most of the beer we drink has yeast strains specifically brewed and carefully transported for beer production. Lambic beer, however, is fermented by wild yeasts and airborne bacteria. The wort (the non-alcoholic liquid, grain/malt/barley mashed before the yeast is added in the brew) is left exposed, inviting anything. This often creates a unique, funky, sour taste. Hops are used, but not for flavor. The hops help protect the brew from spoiling. Lambic brewers use stale hops that don’t have much flavor.

Lambic fruit beers are a derivative of the original Lambic style. The fruit is added during primary or secondary fermentation. This is exactly how fruit beers are defined here in the US when breweries add fruit as the predominant flavor to a non-lambic base beer.

This is my favorite style of beer to enjoy when the air begins to warm but the freshness of spring still lingers. Phew. The first fruit beer I tried was a Lindemans Lambic Framboise (raspberry). Cake. Sweet. I love it. It came out beautifully when done half and half (half a beer on top with a different beer floating on top, like a black and tan). I liked to float Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout over Lindeman’s Framboise. SPEAKING OF SAMUEL SMITH, they also have a delicious Strawberry Ale that could be a great late spring beer to sample.


In fact, I want to label this “American Pale Ale”: IPA, or Indian Pale Ale, was so named because extra hops were added to the pale ale to preserve it during the long journey from India to England. I digress. I choose American IPAs specifically, because American IPAs are very hoppy compared to English IPAs. Fresh hop odors are floral, citrusy, intense, and personally intoxicating.

When we brew in our kitchen, we use Cascade hops, and I love to sit back and enjoy the aroma. These beers capture that invigorating aroma, and despite my distaste for the bitter-finishing IPAs they leave me with, I continue to drink them. My favorite this year is Rude Parrot IPA from Seven Seas Brewery. It is an intense and versatile American IPA that is enjoyed from start to finish.


We are going to start and end this list with bocks.

During the spring, Catholics celebrate Lent, a time of fasting. In the 17th century, the monks of Einbeck, Germany decided to brew a beer to help them through the 40 days of Lent. A high calorie beer intended to help with your nutritional needs. Hence the creation of bock beers. The monks, however, wanted something stronger to get them through those 40 days of Lent, so they prepared the dopplebock.

My personal favorite dopplebock is Spaten’s Optimator, or an Ayinger Celebrator Dobblebock. They are dark, full-bodied, with a slightly toasted flavor, very fresh.


Well yes, but who cares? Of course, seasonal beers are no longer physically necessary. Early brewing was determined in part by the seasons (humidity, temperature). However, with today’s technologies, the seasons no longer play a dominant role in a brewer’s new batch of beer. Anyone could brew a winter beer or year-round Oktoberfest if they wanted to.

However, not many want to brew traditional beers that are in season all year long. Breweries have an excellent opportunity to brew experimental and test batches each season, and beer drinkers like me love the anticipation of their favorite seasonal beer hitting the shelves (which is getting earlier, right? ?).

Cold weather triggers a craving for a complex Christmas beer (and knit scarves…and Bing Crosby…and eggnog). A hot summer afternoon near the water leaves me craving a crisp pilsner or witbier. The Drizly blog asked a helpful question: “Are these companies repeatedly forcing the fall on us, or are our buying habits guiding their marketing behavior?”

I think we can admit that both parties are the cause: our love of the seasons is rooted in a deep nostalgia, and any good company that wants to serve and profit from its target consumer will exploit this nostalgia. It’s catalytic. I don’t care though. Breweries keep inventory and options up to date, keeping my attention and deepening my relationship with their product. everybody wins

With a fruit beer in hand, spring arrives: experimentation, new flavors, fresh notes and the arrival of summer. May your adventures bring you delicious new spring brews: Cheers!

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