Friday Froth: Beers to Sample While Waiting for Spring

James Gribbon

Between typing, I'm looking at surging whitecaps. The water glints with the stray sparkle of sunshine, but mostly it's the blue color of anodized chrome, evening off to a shallow green. It's cold, and the wind knifes into any exposed skin wherever it can, but there's that sunshine. Random patterns run across my chest and face, and I hold up a palm like a screen to see the fluid waves of light move on its surface. The Sun is starting to burn stronger - it's holding off the darkness for longer each night. I smile, sip a Whale's Tale, and try to remember where the hell I put my notes.

Spring beers are already starting to hit the market, it seems, like Magic Hat's Pistil, which has replaced the Vermont brewer's previous spring seasonal, Vinyl

Victory looks ready to release several new beers this spring, including the K-Bomb and Ranch double IPAs, NATO IPA (made with American, English and German ingredients), and Swing Session Saison. That last is made with wheat, rye, oats and barley, and is fermented with an heirloom Belgian farmhouse yeast strain alongside peppercorns and lemon zest. It debuts today, and should be added to Victory's beerfinder before too long. I'll be on the lookout, and I'll tell you when and where I find it. 

Stone Brewing of San Diego, makers of Arrogant Bastard, Supremely Self Righteous, & etc., is about to issue another imaginative and catchy beer into our stores and bars in the form of Enjoy By IPA. This double IPA series is crafted specifically NOT to last, and made in small batches for specific regions of the country. The bottles have labels clearly stating the "enjoy by" date in an effort to get consumers to drink the freshest possible beer. Our batch is being brewed today, and will reach locations in our area on the 27th. Connecticut's Enjoy By will most likely be 4.01.13, and you can find out where to get your shaking hands on some here

Maine Beer Company has made inroads into the Connecticut market, and I'm very interested to get my hands on their bottles. Craft Beer Guild Distributing of CT(203-208-1654, if you're wondering) has the rights, so we should start seeing MBC beers around the state before too long. You know you can trust any company who names their 7% IPA Lunch.

The strain of all this anticipation can claw and tear at a body, so I've prepared notes on a few tonics which calm frayed nerves, and soothe the troubled mind. 

Allagash Brewery is in Portland, Maine - from where early risers and late party-ers alike can watch the Sun seemingly rise from the Atlantic ocean. An ocean and half a planet away, the Land of the Rising Sun supplies most of the hops for Allagash's Yakuza strong golden ale. Yak' is dry hopped three times with Sorachi Ace and Cascade hops, but there's not much aroma, considering. In fact, it smells quite dull. And then you taste it. 

A smooth wheat base lays the perfect foundation for the massive dose of buttery Sorachis - it's almost like a perfect croissant. The effect is dramatic, but without being cloying or effete  - the Cascades cut through just a tiny bit and ready the palate for the next swig. I watched the cloudy, golden liquid drain down before my eyes and below the sheet of impossibly complex lace left in the glass, and just one word came to mind, "artistry." Yakuzais only available on draft, and I had mine at The Ginger Man in SoNo. 

If a 9% strong golden ale isn't strong enough to get you through the night, then perhaps you could use a Bolt Cutter, from Founders Brewing. Brewed to celebrate the company's 15th anniversary, Bolt Cutter barelywine sports a 15%ABV, and is named after the time Founders founder Mike Stevens bought a pair of bolt cutters so he could keep brewing if the bank foreclosed and shuttered his nascent brewery. It never came to that, but this strong ale is the legacy, and they'll help you find it here

Bolt Cutter pours a clear, coppery, red, and smells strongly of plums and raisins. A very high original gravity yields a thick, syrupy body to the finished barleywine, but sharp bubbles break up the huge malt and make room for a slight hop bitterness to come through and clean up. A distinct alcohol heat pervades and lets you know that if this ale doesn't cure what ails you, it will at least knock you out from trying. 

See you all soon. Keep looking on the sunny side of life.