The dark days of the winter, with their dark, thick beer offerings, are coming to an end. In their place, a fresh season of airy, flavorful options are hitting the market. And while your old faithful is still available, there’s never been a better time to try something new. If a trip to your nearest store suggests that the beer market is broader by the minute, you’re not mistaken: While expansion may be slowing, 2018 craft beer continued to grow, even as the once niche market claims a larger and larger piece of national and international sales. To find out which are worth your while, we reached out to our favorite regions and tapped those who know a thing or two about suds, getting their picks for some of this season’s best — and best-tasting — spring beers. Wrap your lips around these as the days grow longer.
Tennessee Brew Works Walk the Lime
Concocted in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, the springtime pays double homage, the first of which is to Johnny Cash, one of the city’s most famous. But it also tips its hat to the nearby Batey Farms, an eighth-generation property from which the brewery sources its wheat. Called by its founder “a real patio pounder,” it’s perfect to pair with the Southern spring, a hotter-than-expected season that demands a chilled American Wheat beer and fresh lime zest.
10 Barrel Brewing Co. Swill
Back by popular demand, 10 Barrel Brewing Co.’s Swill has been an annual Pacific Northwest favorite seasonal offering. A domestic take on the traditional (and rare) German Radler style, the Bend, Oregon, beer’s roots literally lie in the translation of its name as “cyclist” in the traditional Deutsch. This lightly sweet, grapefruit-flavored beer demands long days and vigorous activity to enjoy. It’s low 4.5-percent ABV means you can have a couple without regret.
Patagonia Provisions Long Root Wit
Patagonia doesn’t only make puffy vests and smart environmental decision.s They also have a burgeoning food wing Provisions, which has released its second beer. Made in partnership with the Hopworks Urban Brewery in Porland, Oregon, the Belgian-style wit beer is made with organic ingredients and 15 percent Kernza grain, a specially developed plant that is perennial (i.e. regrows each season) while using less water and requiring no pesticides. It also prevents erosion and sucks carbon emissions from the sky. Kernza also adds notes of spice that set it apart from a faceless glut of wheat beers.
Bruz Beers Farmstead Funk Brett Saison
Colorado and Belgium may seem like strange bedfellows, but Bruz Beers has been quietly distinguishing itself as an authentic Belgian brewery in Denver. Its springtime Farmstead Funk Brett Saison is made in the old style, with European pilsner malt and aged on brett for several months, lending a sour punch of a finish. We love the extra step of bottle conditioning, a natural carbonization process inside the bottle that requires a full month more rest. What does all this time add up to? The creamiest head you’ve ever tasted and the finest bubbles that will grace your tongue.
If a recovery beer sounds like some kind of sick joke, you’re missing the trend right now in brews. Sufferfest is leading the growing category, supplementing its Kolsch-style brew with salt and black currant to replenish and rehydrate you after a grueling workout. Termed “gluten-removed,” it contains less than 10 parts per million to keep your stomach cramp-free. We also like the fact that it’s light on the waistline: With a mere 165 calories, 12.5 grams of carbs, and a 1.7 grams of protein, you won’t be drinking back all your hard-fought gains.
Blackberry Farm Brewery Goat Hill
Named after a nearby Smokey Mountain lookout, Blackberry Farm Brewery’s Goat Hill is a golden ale with a socialite’s spirit. Despite its East Tennessee locale, brewmasters sourced both German and Czech hops, creating a barley pop low on bitterness and big on flavor, bolstered by wheat and pilsner malts. At 5 percent ABV, it’s also a great session beer for the hotter days just around the corner.
Roadhouse Brewing Co. Trout Whistle
Legend has it that back in the early days of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the fisherman had a secret: take a puff off a joint prior to heading out on the water and the fish would practically jump into the boat. Naming its spring seasonal after this, Roadhouse Brewing Co.’s Trout Whistle is the perfect beer for land and sea. The American pale ale starts with Calypso and Mosaic hops for a shot to the kisser before mellowing into a well-rounded body that many mistake for a traditional IPA. If you like hops but don’t want to suck on a grapefruit rind or chew on a pinecone, this is a tasty middle ground.
GnomeTown Brewing Co. Brew Sessions
GnomeTown is just one of the many funky businesses transforming the post-industrial town of Fort Wayne, Indiana. If the beers on this varied list don’t suit your palate, make your own with its Brew Sessions package, during which participants create their own brew and receive it in about two weeks. Whether you’re looking for a lager, searching for a saison, or get an inkling for an IPA, the two- to three-hour sessions are guided by the business’s master brewer while you alternately stir in ingredients and drink its already completed house standards. After the yeast makes its magic, you’ll receive 40 22-ounce longnecks with custom labels—and a good story to tell over a cold one.