Spring is finally on the horizon. The thaw is happening and that means breweries are gearing up to start releasing new and seasonal craf beers at a quick pace as we head toward the hotter months. St. Patrick’s Day is also only two weeks away (though festivities are canceled again, for obvious reasons), which is very much a beer quaffing holiday.
March is a good month for craft beer, is what we’re getting at. It’s also an interesting month for craft beer — a transitional season for the industry. There are still some lingering winter beers on shelves but the lighter and fruitier sippers are starting to drop. It’s sort of the best of both worlds if you’re looking for heavier flavors but are ready to get a little lighter, fruiter, and more crushable with your selections.
Hopefully, the eight beers we’re giving love to this month will pique your interest and inspire you to explore exciting breweries in your neck of the woods. These picks represent regional craft beer releases from breweries that we vouch for (with tasting notes from the brewers themselves if we didn’t get to taste the beer yet because of the pandemic), along with some seasonally released bottles that we’ve been looking forward to trying again.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST DROP: Deschutes Raspberry Black Butte Porter
Style: Fruited Porter
This new release from Deschutes is sure to be a fan favorite. The beer has a foundation of five malts, ranging from 2-Row barley to wheat, oat, and chocolate. PNW and German hops are added to the mix along with ripe raspberries, giving the final brew a sort of sunburst feel to balance the darker depths of the porter.
You’re met with the classic Black Butte Porter notes of vanilla, bitter dark chocolate, and a hint of dank that leads towards this burst of tart-yet-sweet raspberry. That raspberry heads towards a bar of dark chocolate spiked with raspberry, with a velvety texture and subtle lightness.
This really helps bridge those colder winter months. You get porter depth and berry brightness (without getting raspberry seeds stuck in your teeth).
SOUTHWEST DROP: Modern Times Caliban
While this was technically released last month, it’s still going strong now through April. The brew is a hop-bomb with a laser focus on Nelson hops which help to bring big fruity flavors — perfect for making a fruity NEIPA.
Tasting Notes (from the brewer):
“We expect a profile replete with bright tropical fruit, berries, lemon, and crisp citrus that’s practically guaranteed to improve any holiday party it attends.”
Modern Times almost never disappoints. This is sure to be a crushable fruit-bomb to quench the thirst of anyone living where the weather is already inching towards triple-digits.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN DROP: Upslope Blackberry Lemon Sour Ale
Style: Fruited Kettle Sour
This seasonal brew from Colorado’s Upslope is a perennial favorite. The addition of local blackberries to the naturally soured beer gives a light-yet-bold texture and flavor to a very sessionable, low-ABV beer.
There’s a clear note of a blackberry patch with the sweetness of the berries at the core and the vines and leaves leading towards a slight earthiness. The lemon sour kicks in to counterpoint those sweet notes as the whole beer gets a little jammy and you’re left with a blackberry pie cut with plenty of lemon juice in beer form.
This is the perfect back porch sipper on a long weekend evening. Fair warning, if you snag a six-pack, don’t expect there to be any leftover the next morning.
SOUTHERN DROP: Family Business Beer Co. The Grackle
Style: American Imperial Stout
This has become a mainstay of Nate Seale’s expertly crafted line at Family Business Beer Co. And with St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, it’s an ideal time to drink some tasty stout.
The beer is rich with vanilla, meaty prunes, and the darkest chocolate malts. There’s a full-bodied velvetiness to the sip that really embraces the vanilla to the point of feeling like a warm bourbon with a touch of nuts and spice on the very sharp-yet-malty end.
This some heavy-duty beer. The high ABVs will sneak up on you while the soft mouthfeel and flavos will keep you going back for more.
MIDWEST DROP: Revolution Brewing Mega-Hero
Style: Imperial NEIPA
This month’s release from Chicago’s Revolution Brewing continues on their small-batch double dry-hopped journey. The brew is all about the dry hopping with Bravo and Trident hops at the center — both of which are renowned for their varied and deep fruitiness.
Tasting Notes (from the brewer):
“Defeat the end boss by wielding seven different hops (led by Bravo and Trident) to unleash the passionfruit and candied lime flavors that level the playing field.”
Rev continually puts out great one-off brews and this March seasonal is sure to be a great one-and-done to welcome the blooming flowers and trees of spring.
NORTHEAST DROP: Samuel Adams Wicked Double
Samuel Adams has gone all-in on the IPA game. Their latest release, Wicked Double, is built on a solid backbone of their signature malts with a little wheat and oats thrown in for good measure. The brew is then hopped with a mix of Citra, Mosaic, Sabro, and Cascade hops to really bring the haze, fruit, and bitterness to the mix.
There’s a mingling of ripe stonefruits next to tropical fruit on the nose. Those vibes carry on through the taste supported by a slightly sweet malty base. The stonefruit zeros in on apricot as the tropical side becomes almost savory, like papaya. The body of the beer is silky and leads towards a touch of spiced fruit.
This feels like it’d be a great topper/pairing on a very rummy tropical cocktail. It’s super refreshing but packs a pretty big ABV punch (again, like a tropical cocktail).
WILD CARD DROP: Stone Dayfall Belgian White
This brand-new release from Stone (it dropped on March 1st) is a departure from the brand’s heavy-hitting IPAs and stouts. The subtle Belgian wheat beer is made with Bergamot orange peel and coriander to imbue brightness and lightness to the brew. The result is a beer that feels like sunshine in a bottle.
Tasting Notes (from the brewer):
“Integrated aromas of orange, citrus, floral, spice, honey, along with subtle notes of grain/graham cracker. Up front citrus including orange, lemon, and lime, with floral and a light herbal component. Slight tartness, medium-body, and a smooth finish with lingering citrus.”
Whenever Stone does something out of the ordinary (see: their Berliner Weisse), it tends to slap. Luckily, this is a nationwide release, so you should be able to snag a sixer from a good beer shop or delivery service to judge for yourself.
INTERNATIONAL PICK OF THE MONTH: Guinness Hop House 13 Lager
Style: Pale Lager
While Guinness is best known for their iconic stout, they also make a ton of other beers. Their Brewer’s Project at St. James Gate in Dublin is a craft beer testing ground for young brewers looking to experiment. Some of it never leaves the craft bar. Some of it goes international. This experimental craft lager made it past the bar at St. James Gate and is now a year-round standard.
The brew has a base of 100 percent Irish malted barley that’s fermented with Guinness’s signature yeast. The beer is then hopped with hops from the U.S. and Australia (Galaxy, Topaz, and Mosaic). The result is a unique and modern take on the classic lager.
The beer opens with fresh and light notes of malts next to fruity and slightly bitter hops. There’s a bit of piney dankness next to peaches and a rush of lemon tartness. That all tumbles back towards the slightly sweetened malts and light hop bitter/tart/dank vibe with a focus on being refreshing above all else.
This beer is crazy crushable and sessionable. Think of it a bit like Brooklyn Lager by way of Guinness. And it being St. Patrick’s Day in two weeks, you can easily kill a sixer of these while celebrating all things Irish.