Portland seems to have skipped the rainy spring season and gone straight to the sun-filled patio, day-drinking spring season. Blame global warming, or maybe just our mercurial weather patterns (it’s probably going to go back to rainy at any point), but whatever the case, it’s the perfect excuse to try a seasonal beer or two from one of our many breweries.
Oddly, not every brewery has released their spring beers yet, but from the ones that have, here are our favorites.
Gose, 5.2% ABV
Oregon is no longer a slave to the IPA -- we’ve branched out to embrace a multitude of styles. The Zenith Grapefruit Gose from Ecliptic Brewing is a perfect example of this: a German-style sour beer with a touch of saline and coriander, it's further enlivened and balanced with the addition of grapefruit. It’s a brilliant warm weather sipper, and we’d expect nothing less from beer legend John Harris.
Rye, 5.5% ABV
Along with the lovely bottle art, Burnside Brewing’s Spring Rye is just a nice beer all around. It has an almost creamy smoothness to it, with a low IBU that lends to outdoor drinking. The hop blend, rye, and touch of coriander keep it from being acerbic, and make it clear why Burnside has been reviving this annually since its early years.
Pale ale, 5.6% ABV
The S.M.A.S.H. isn’t named for the Hulk; rather, it's an acronym for "Single Malt And Single Hop." It’s unclear whether the brewers decided to make it entirely for the name to show up on Portland Brewing's drinking roster, but it ends up being a nice, straightforward pale ale, something that Oregon had almost forgotten about in its flurry of IPAs. Its single hop is fairly fruity, the malt is light, and it’s extremely effervescent: very nice for a sunny day in Portland.
Indian session ale, 4.5% ABV
Culmination is still a nascent brewery with a young crew, but it's already producing some great beers. This Indian session ale, as they label it, is packed full of delicious El Dorado and Idaho #7 hops, but it’s well balanced, with a lower IBU, and plenty of lovely floral and citrus notes. It strikes an elegant balance between an IPA and a session, making it a uniquely Northwestern spring ale.
Saison, 7% ABV
From Portland’s OG brewery, Bridgeport, comes the Stumptown Cherry. It’s the darkest beer on this spring list, but still a refreshing saison at an appropriate 7% ABV. The cherry flavor is subtle yet present, and there’s some nice spice and golden malt, with very delicate hops.
Belgian-style blonde ale, 7.6% ABV
The Baerlic brewpub avoids the ubiquitous Portland brewery aesthetic of exposed brick and prominently displayed equipment, opting for a chic, clean, coffee-shop look instead. So too is its beer chic and clean, like the Delight Belgian Blonde, a pale Belgian-style ale that’s rich, bright, and lush, with all the usual Belgian notes of apple and pear. It’s close to a tripel in style, especially with the 7.6% ABV, and has less sugar than a usual blonde. No blonde jokes, please.
Session, 3.6% ABV
Rarely is a beer so straightforwardly named for its ABV, but the Three Point Six is, indeed, 3.6% alcohol. It’s called a “brett-affected hoppy session.” While the yeast brettanomyces is rarely used to sour beers, it’s a subtle but welcome presence here, adding a creamy tartness and some fruit notes to this Belgian quaffer. Commons Brewery continues to impress.
Saison, 5.5% ABV
Gigantic excels at balance, and that’s exactly what you get with this delightful, fruity French-style saison. It’s appropriate for both our rainy and our sunny spring weather, but you might not notice any of it, because you’ll be so distracted by the label from local artist Maryanna Hoggatt, which depicts the adorable Tolly Peppercorn, Battle Raccoon. We’re calling it: this is the best bottle art of the year. Tolly ho!
Double IPA, 8.1% ABV
This beautiful golden beer has a deceptively high 8.1% ABV, making it the highest alcohol beer on the list. Still, the hop blend of Chinook, El Dorado, and Mosaic, along with very light malt, make for a revitalizing beer, evoking notes of pineapple and stone fruit without being overwhelming fruity. It’s clear why Breakside Brewery is growing as fast as it is.
Red ale, 6.1% ABV
Red ales don’t exactly scream “springtime,” but the HUB's Rise Up Red shows why it continues to be the brewery’s spring seasonal. Despite its dark red hue, it’s a remarkably refreshing beer, due to the lightly toasted malt and expertly balanced, zesty hops.
Saison, 4.9% ABV
Spring means flowers, and the elderflower in this saison makes the brew even more seasonally appropriate. It’s subtle, and can almost be mistaken for floral hops, but it adds a delicate aroma to an already pleasant beer, with citrusy hops and fruity Belgian yeast.
IPA, 6% ABV
IPAs aren’t exactly spring beers, but they are quintessentially Portland, and so is Lompoc Brewing. It’s more of a straightforward IPA that happened to be released in spring, but it’s still a nice beer to have at one of Lompoc’s many patios and gardens around town.
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