Spring weather—if it ever arrives—equals a thirst for suds. If you’re me, that thirst is year-round but for some of you, a cold, refreshing beer might only strike when the weather gets nicer and when you’re hanging out near the fire pit and outdoor grill with your crew.
You could do the norm and grab a pilsner or ale, but why not try something new? Perhaps something on the fruity side, something mouth puckering, or possibly even a certain stout that comes out around this time of year—if you can find it.
Kent Falls Hibiscus is one “flower beer” you should try.
The concept of a fruit beer or a gose may be hard to grasp for newbies so let’s start there. Hey, I’m not judging. It took me a while to get into the fruity or the sour stuff; heck, my introductory fruit beer was a bottle of Abita Purple Haze. It’s a good one if you’re looking to expand your horizons with something that’s not cloyingly sweet, but you should be on the lookout for their Strawberry Harvest. It still manages to taste like a beer even through the pleasantness of the natural Louisiana strawberry juice that’s incorporated towards the end of the brewing process. If you’re a fruit beer aficionado I recommend one that I just tried, the slightly rare Goose Island Gillian (purchased at Half Time in Poughkeepsie). This fruit beer/ale combines strawberry, honey, and white pepper and is then aged in wine barrels. Sure, it’s sweet from fruit and honey but the pepper balances it all out, and Gillian’s 9.5% ABV packs a boozy wallop—so drink this, but drink it slow. Kent Falls Hibiscus is another fruitier brew to try that’ll surprise you at it did me; it wasn’t as sweet as I expected, it’s slightly sour, and the Hibiscus adds pleasant floral notes.
If you want to get fruity without all the big time fruit taste, try Grapefruit Session IPA by Captain Lawrence; low in ABV but very drinkable with the grapefruit setting off the bitterness and best served ice cold. Others like this to try are Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin that has a higher alcohol content but in my opinion the best of its kind. Similar from Ballast is Pineapple Sculpin. It’s new to this area but it’s sure to be popular in the spring and summer months.
As far as goses are concerned you’ll probably end up a fan, or not. The sour taste isn’t for everyone—if you can remember your childhood you either liked Sour Warheads or you didn’t, I think it’s the same with this type of beer. I generally like them as long as it doesn’t make my face turn upside down. Goses are typically light in addition to the sourness and some are easy to drink like Gose Gone Wild (great name!) by Stillwater Artisanal. GGW is definitely sour but it’s calmed down by the addition of more hops and the citrus is pumped up in this one too, especially the lime. If you appreciate a good sour, you’ll recognize you’re drinking something special here. I’ve been able to find this one in the NY/CT area pretty readily. I had it once at Cask Republic locations in CT for around $20 bottle (don’t worry, you get like two glasses out of it) and again at Fairway Wines but for the much cheaper price tag of $7.99.
If you can find it, KBS is black as night and smooth as silk. It’s strong for spring, but who cares?
The last one you’ll want that’s available now is a stout. Actually getting your hands on Founders KBS can be mission impossible to the point where it pays to have a hookup at your local liquor store (a few DeCicco’s stores had it on the release day). If you hunt it like I do, it helps to be tuned in to your Facebook feed so when good beer bars say they have it, you can arrive on time so the keg doesn’t kick before you get some. And with KBS that happens all the time. Coffee, chocolate, aged in bourbon barrels for a year? It’s no wonder it’s so damn popular. If you can snag this savor-worthy brew, keep it for yourself, lie to your loved ones, and offer them a pale ale when they come over.