Written by Peter Fingerson
The onset of springtime here in Kentucky is particularly noteworthy for a few things: the deluge of pollen, creating an oh-so-pleasant onslaught of allergies, beautiful green trees, and for the homebrewers, making delicious spring seasonal beers. Though not every beer I make is brewed according to the season, I do very much enjoy it when I use my brain to think more than a few weeks in advance. Towards the end of winter, when spring begins to tease us with warm notions, I like to brew a good easy-sippin’, porch-sittin’ session beer in eager anticipation of warmer weather.
Though springtime around these parts seems to be a short-lived whirlwind, the season itself encompasses numerous styles of beer. Brisk mornings call for a hearty breakfast stout that goes down well alongside the promise of warmer weather (Founders KBS). Warm afternoons beckon you to sip on a few session wheats or hefeweizens under a shady tree (Bell’s Oberon). Cool spring evenings merit just about anything that tastes good, but I find that a creamy porter or a spicy Rye IPA make the evenings simmer down to a peaceful lull.
This year, as my spring welcoming beer, I decided to brew an American wheat entitled GumballShred, a Three Floyds Gumballhead clone of sorts. As this hoppy wheat treat bubbles away in my basement, I look forward to the day the bottles are ready to be imbibed upon on the porch or around the fire pit. The use of wheat malt in this beer will create a nice malty body that is refreshingly easy to drink and not too heavy. I used Amarillo and Simcoe hops to give it a nice citrusy, piney, and floral hop character that will make your mouth pine for more (pun intended). California Ale yeast was pitched, as it will accentuate the hops and give it a clean finish with low esters. This beer was actually brewed specifically for a cabin outing that my wife and I are going on with some friends in early June. One of the many bonuses of homebrewing is the fact that if you want a specific beer, you can have it. Special occasion beers make the event or trip all the more pleasant. Plus, I think they just taste better. Though Kentucky weather may lean ever-so-slightly toward the unpredictable side of things, this hoppy American wheat will go down smooth in just about any condition, making it the perfect spring beer.
Not everyone drinks or brews per the season’s whim, but there is just something special about a hefty Russian Imperial Stout while listening to the wind howl on a cold winter night, or a cold pilsner on a brutally humid summer day. It takes a little more planning to brew according to the time of the year, but the benefit of cracking the first bottle to celebrate the changing season very much outweighs the cost of using your brain more than it has to. Here in a few weeks, a hefeweizen or a simple, lightly hopped pale ale will be on my brewing agenda in a meager attempt to combat Kentucky’s humid wall of sweat, a.k.a. summer. Just try drinking an Old Rasputin, a broodingly colossal 9% ABV Russian Imperial Stout, as the sun roasts your skin on a hot July afternoon after mowing the lawn. I dare you.