Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)
A few weeks back while writing about the evolving craft beer market, I mentioned the growing demand for more ‘everyday’ brews; beers that friends could bring to spring/summer barbecues and throw in the cooler for any and all to enjoy. Since then I’ve had more than a few customers come into the store asking which beers I meant in particular when I wrote that, so let me give you a preview of things to come as the weather finally starts to warm up again.
A trend is forming in lower-ABV hoppy Ales, which will only grow more prominent this year. Aside from the always enjoyable Bitter American from 21st Amendment (dry-hopped English Special Bitter, 4.5% ABV), Founder’s Brewing has finally started shipping its excellent All-Day IPA to Virginia. At 4.7%, it’s probably more accurate to call All-Day a Pale Ale but the IPA name does draw attention. The combination of its light, minerally body with a focused hop character make All-Day pretty irresistible regardless of how it’s classified. Look for All-Day to be available until sometime in September. Schlafly Pale Ale is also now regularly available for those looking for a classic English-style Pale. At 4.4% ABV with grassy hops and clean palate feel, Schalfly Pale can please just about any crowd. Rumors have Devils Backbone packaging the lower-ABV version of its wonderful, balanced Eight Point IPA—appropriately called Four Point IPA—sometime this summer, along with a possible canning run of Striped Bass Pale Ale. In the meantime, I can’t recommend their current short-release sixer The Congo enough. An IPA fermented with a Belgian yeast strain, The Congo exhibits restraint compared to other Belgian IPA-style beers, many of which tend to have either an exaggerated yeast character, hop profile, or both.
Those looking for Belgian-styled beers should try the newly released Swing, from Victory Brewing Company. Swing is a Saison that clocks in at 4.5% ABV, with black and Szechuan peppercorns bringing more dryness than spice to its finish. Newly arrived is Saison de Lis from St. Louis’ Perennial Artisan Ales; at 5.0% and brewed with chamomile flowers it’s a great introduction to Perennial’s lineup. Also back in stock right now is Stillwater’s Premium, my favorite new beer of 2012. Another 4.5% Ale, Premium uses two brettanomyces wild yeast strains to make for what may be the funkiest session Ale out there right now. A non-brett version of Premium called Classique has popped up on tap around the area. I got to try Classique recently during Stillwater’s tap-takeover night at Pizzeria Paradiso in Old Town: it doesn’t lack for character and if rumors pan out we may just see some canned six-packs this year. Sour fans: don’t miss out on Timmerman’s Blanche Lambicus—it’s 4.5% ABV, spiced in the manner of a Witbier, and I’m not sure how long it’ll last. Also don’t forget my go-to session beer of choice, the 4.0% Bell’s Oarsman Ale.
Speaking of Bell’s, next week sees the return of the ever-popular Oberon Ale which will keep fans refreshed through the summer; and if everything goes the way it’s supposed to this week, then by the time you read this we’ll be seeing the first shipment of Abita’s Strawberry Harvest Lager hitting area shelves. Last but certainly not least we have Port City’s Downright Pils, one of my favorite new beers of last year and a great example of an approachable craft beer that everyone can enjoy.
So hang on out there; the warm weather will be here soon and there will be a lot to look forward to beer-wise during the spring and summer, even if we find ourselves cursing the heat and humidity before the summer officially starts. Until next time.
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