The harbingers of a spring in San Francisco are coming: The St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Market, Hunky Jesus in Dolores Park, Big Wheel Races down Vermont Street, NCAA basketball chatter and plum blossoms everywhere you turn.
And, of course, beer. Unlike other seasons, there are few beer styles specifically brewed for the spring. But there are some classics, and more brewers every year are filling up the menu. A few of our local experts weighed in with ten springtime suggestions.
Sayre Piotrkowski, Certified Cicerone, Editor of www.beerandsoul.com
• Schneider Aventinus Weizenbock - The San Francisco spring is ideal for a Bavarian Dunkelweizen or Weizenbock. Our springs are rarely as warm as I’d like, which often leaves me in layers and scarves or beneath a heat lamp holding a glass of Weizenbock. Brews like Aventinus offer the characteristic sweet citrus and clove aromas of traditional hefeweizen, as well as the rich warmth of a more robust and higher ABV brew.
Fraggle, Co-Owner/Operator of Beer Revolution
• The Bruery Saison de Lente - The Bruery’s seasonal spring release is a lighter version of their Saison Rue, with a dollop of Brettanomyces thrown in to balance the floral notes with some earthy funkiness. The lemony citrus of this beer is capped by a billowing head of foam.
• Hofbräu Maibock - Few beers scream "Spring is here!" like this granddaddy of maibocks. It’s a great easy drinking beer with a sweet nutty maltiness.
• Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot (WTF) - Early spring is the best time for this imperial brown. The brew’s malty mouthfeel is nicely charged with Lagunitas' normal big hop profile.
• Lagunitas Undercover Shutdown - This American strong ale, or imperial red, is released to "celebrate" the time when the California ABC shut the doors on the brewery for 20 days with a "disorderly house" citation which they were awarded during a St. Patrick’s Day party. Undercover is a rich malty beer with a piney hop bite and solid alcohol heat.
Dave Hauslein, Beer Manager at Healthy Spirits
• Stone Old Guardian - One of my favorite beers to transition from a full-bodied winter beer to the lighter, hoppier fare that is usually associated with summer. Old Guardian’s assertive hoppiness couples smoothly with its caramelized pale malt sweetness and the warmth of its high ABV.
• De Dolle Oerbier – This is another great beer for the spring. It's an Oud Bruin, which is the base beer style that is barrel aged and soured to make beers such as Rodenbach and Duchesse De Bourgogne. Oerbier is nutty and rich, with a sharp, funky edge and finished with a vibrant, chewy carbonation.
Jesse Friedman, Brewmaster and co-owner of Almanac Beer Co.
• Anchor Bock – Dark, rich and full of flavor, this bock is brewed from a blend of barley and wheat malts and bittered with fresh, whole-cone Nugget and Glacier hops.
• Dogfish Head Aprihop - This American IPA is massively hopped with Amarillo and balanced, as least partially, with Pilsner and crystal malts and the addition of apricots during the fermentation.
• New Belgium Biere de Mars – Orange colored, like the planet it’s named for, this New Belgium ale is tart from the wild Brettanomyces yeast and the additions of lemon peel and lemon verbena, smooth from a full bill of barley, oat and wheat malts and aromatic from the mix of UK and west coast hops.
Almanac Brewing’s own Biere de Mars will soon be among the spring harbingers. Beer Revolution is hosting the Release Party on April 4 and, as with similar Almanac releases, expect local chefs to craft some savory food
parings using seasonal ingredients.
And finally, tickets for the 2012 San Francisco International Beer Festival at Fort Mason go on sale this Friday, March 16 at 10 am. The event sold out in under an hour last year. All proceeds go to a local preschool. See the event website for details.