Spring Beer Traditions
Spring is known for providing some delicious transitional varieties of beer to take us from the cold of winter to the leisurely summer months. From Bocks to IPAs and Irish Reds to Blondes, spring comfortably takes our palettes from the darker and heavier selections of winter to the lighter citrus brews that cleanse our palettes and cool us off. But why are certain types of beer paired with a specific time of the year? Is this simply a taste preference? Did this come about as a result of people trying to match beer with seasonal foods? Or is there more to this long-standing schedule than just taste?
The idea that certain types of beer are meant to be enjoyed during specific seasons actually goes back to well before we had modern refrigeration. Since it was difficult to keep beer cold and preserved through the summer, most brewing occurred in the fall and winter months. Breweries also had to use whatever ingredients were in season to make their beer. This meant that winter and spring beer would coincide perfectly with the Barley harvests of the early winter months. The heavier and darker brews this produced paired well with the heavier meals of winter, and provided people with the warm and full feeling they craved. As summer rolled around though people sought a lighter and more refreshing beverage. Luckily this is exactly what nature provided as brewers were forced to create lighter beers that were quicker to ferment. Spring beers and their wonderful balance of high alcohol content and smooth flavors naturally developed out of the opportunity to transition with people’s palettes from winter to summer.
So even though modern technology has given us the ability to grow and preserve ingredients year round, get out and enjoy some historically accurate spring beer while it’s in season! Because not only do seasonal beers pair well with the various foods of each season, they provide a fun way to mix it up and try new things!