Greetings, ye loyal BeatRoute readers! As I began preparing my article this month, I desperately wanted to write something about spring. I wanted it to be whimsical, pleasant and to embrace the changing season. However, when I sat down I was confronted with the sobering fact this article will appear from May 1st to May 31st (in print, at least) and, being in Alberta, there are no guarantees that spring will have arrived! For the sake of our own sanity as well as the timing of this article, let us assume that it has. With that wishful thinking as my muse, I have compiled a list of some of my favourite welcoming spring beers.
A recent revelation for me is fabulous Howe Sound Lager from Squamish, British Columbia. This wonderful copper lager shows an artful interplay between sweet malt and bitter hops. I really can’t get enough of this stuff. The craft beer market has recently developed a pattern of extremes, where Imperial Stouts and Double IPAs are becoming the norm, and in a market where more is often regarded as better, it is nice to see a beer that is reserved and crafted to drink in repetition.
Another fine example of a spring beer is the Chainbreaker White IPA from the Deschutes Brewery in Portland, Oregon — I know, you’re tired of hearing about Portland. Well, I’m sorry but this stuff rules and deserves a mention. I can’t help that it comes from Hipsterville, USA… it just does. This beer is a Bridgette Neilson (a blonde on steroids). It has the expected orange zest and subtle spice notes, but they are accompanied by an unusual richness and hop character that many blondes lack.
Spring often signals patio pints and one of my favourites comes from right here in Calgary, Alberta. Wild Rose IPA is a great craft IPA into which I settle back each year. It has superb balance and we are lucky to taste it as fresh as can be. It really is a local beer treasure that should not be overlooked.
My last recommendation is one that may seem out of place on a spring beer list to some. But those who understand and love it know that it is one of the finest spring pints on the planet: it is none other than Guinness Stout. It’s not exactly trendy or unique and, in fact, it’s available in damn near every bar in the world. And why is that? Because there are few finer beers on the planet. So, why drink it during the spring, you ask? It’s low alcohol with little carbonation and those are two things that make for a perfect spring beer, not to mention being delicious and refreshing.
Whatever you drink this spring, try and expand your horizons. And hey, if you see me on the patio of your local pub, please feel free to join me for a pint. Just make sure to bring your wallet — I rarely pick up the tab.
By Jeff Jamieson (Proprietor, Vine Arts Wine and Spirits)AB, Alberta