Hop to It: Some Spring Brews to Sample

Photo: Annie Brady

Not sure which beer best compliments the impending spring season? We have a list of northwestern microbrews that are sure to put some hops in your step.

Photo: Annie Brady

Another wet, dreary winter is winding down and springtime is slowly easing its way back into the lives of Seattleites. The signs of the season are all around us: the days are getting longer, the temperatures are getting warmer, and people have begun to write off the Mariners’ chances of making the playoffs.

There’s also the beer. The Pacific Northwest boasts some of the tastiest brews in the world and spring seasonals have begun sprouting up in coolers and taps all over the region. But rather than bombard your local bartender with a string of questions about ABVs, IBUs, and hop profiles, why not simply use our MUST HAVE BEERs list to help you decide the spring brew that’s right for you.

1. Mud Slinger Spring Ale | Red Hook Breweries (Woodinville, WA) | Availability: January to April

Red Hook is one of the biggest names in northwest brewing, so it’s hardly a surprise they’ve produced a deliciously accessible spring beer. This Nut Brown Ale is dark, smooth and well balanced. Mud Slinger is another fine example of the “Liquid Goodness” this brewery has been providing the region for almost 30 years.

2. Outburst Imperial IPA | Pyramid Breweries (Seattle, WA) | Availability: February to March

If you like your beer to be hopped up on hops, then Pyramid has a beverage you might be interested in. Outburst Imperial IPA takes hoppiness to the extreme, boasting four different kinds of hops and using four pounds per barrel during the brewing process. After a limited debut in 2010, this amber-hued hop behemoth is poised to leave a lasting impression on northwestern beer lovers.

3. W’11 KGB Russian Imperial Stout | Widmer Brothers Brewey (Portland, OR) | Availability: January to April

There are plenty of seasonal beers to imbibe this spring, but there are few that provide the drinker with Cold War overtones. Widmer’s take on the Russian Imperial Stout is as inviting as glasnost and as dark as Joseph Stalin’s soul. But beware, in the hands of an amateur, this beer’s 9.3 percent ABV might lead to treasonous activity and the revelation of state secrets.

Photo: Annie Brady

4. Red Chair NWPA | Deschutes Brewery (Bend, Oregon) | Availability: January to April

This experimental take on a classic style was named after the oldest chair lift on Mt. Bachelor. It was also named the World’s Best Pale Ale at the 2010 World Beer Awards. This unique brew has seven varieties of malt and a crisp, copper complexion. It’s hoppy enough to satisfy the most demanding beer nerd, while being drinkable enough to appeal to a more mainstream audience.

5. Bête Blanche Tripel | Elysian Brewing (Seattle, WA) | Availability: Spring

This Belgian-style brew that’s affectionately known as “the Bitch” is back and making her way to retail outlets for the very first time. While its 7.5 percent ABV is considered mild for a tripel, there’s little doubt this blonde will be in high demand this springtime. Rather than over-explain this beer with a bunch of highly scientific brew vernacular, we’ll simply remind you that Elysian isn’t in the habit of making swill.

6. Irish Style Nut Brown Ale | Hale’s Ales Brewery (Seattle, WA) | Availability: February to March

They say everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. If that’s really true then everyone should want to drink a pint of this Nut Brown Ale long after the holiday is over. Hale’s Ales has been a regional favorite since 1983 and their take on this Irish session beer helps solidify the brewer’s legendary status. While everyone else spends their March donning shamrocks and reciting limericks, you can simply enjoy this exceptionally crafted ale, long through the season.

7. LTD 05 Amber Lager | Full Sail Brewing Company (Hood River, OR) | Availability: March to June

Drop anchor and head to your nearest watering hole or grocery to pick up the latest beer in Full Sail’s Limited Edition series. The LTD 05 Amber Lager is a refreshing take on an old style and just another example of what’s made this Hood River brewery so popular. This illustrious spring lager is certain to be enjoyed by casual beer drinkers as well as craft brew aficionados.