Now that 2015 is just a memory, it is time to look ahead to 2016. The best way to plan your year is by examining what the best beers are to be enjoyed during each season. Many beer drinkers love to transition to specific styles to match impeccably with the seasons.
Here is a look ahead to 2016 as we drink our way through the year.
Winter: As light fades to the background and darkness and cold seems to engulf everything during these months, it is quite easy to get depressed. However, a transition to darker beers such as stouts and porters can help take off the edge. Higher ABV beers, such as barleywines, are also a welcome site this time of year. The high ABV and rich warming characteristics of the beers helps to chase away the winter blues, offering flavor complexities and an aid to relaxation. Some great beers to enjoy during the winter months are: Terrapin’s Wake N Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout; Avery Brewing’s Mephistopheles Stout; Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout; Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea; Founder’s Imperial Stout; Stone Brewing’s Bold Guardian Barleywine; and Carton Brewing’s Regular Coffee.
Spring: The transition from darkness and cold temperatures to warm, sunny days and green landscapes call for beers that are a perfect balance of light and dark. The trick is to find beers that don’t weigh too heavily on the palate or the stomach but are not so light that they resemble beers that are good for summer. Balance is the key. Some great style choices for spring are: Dunkel Weizen, Weizenbock and Maibock. The rich malt characteristics and sometimes fruity and/or hoppy notes are the perfect balance of light and dark. Some great beers to try that fit these style guidelines are: Rouge Dead Guy Ale; Weihenstephaner’s Vitus; Victory Brewing’s Moon Glow Weizenbock; Southern Tier’s Goat Boy; Weihenstephan’s Hefeweissbier Dunkel; and Ayinger’s Ur-Weisse
Summer: Summer is the perfect time to relax with cold beers that are light and refreshing and that are wonderful to help you cool down during the hot days. Summer is the time of year when Weissbiers, IPAs, pale ales, wheat ales, and pilsners dominate space in the fridge. There are an endless number of beers that fall into these vast varieties and many are available year round and may also be great to enjoy helping bring a spark of light to the dark days of winter. Some great beers to enjoy during the summer are: Victory Brewing’s Prima Pils; Firestone Walker’s Pivo Pils; Hardywood’s The Great Return; Tree house Brewing’s Julius; Dogfish Head’s Festina Pêche; Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA; Kane Brewing’s Head High IPA; Great Divide’s Titan IPA; and Lagunitas’s Hop Stoopid.
Fall: The fall season is another pivotal transition season. We begin to leave the long hot days of summer behind us and prepare to bunker down for the cold days ahead. Halloween and Thanksgiving provide great opportunities for get-togethers with great food and great beers. Beers that have some more malt forward flavors and subtle warming characteristics are great this time of year. The weather has a slight chill in the air and the wonderful fall colors are best reflected in wonderful malt choices. Great beer styles to enjoy this time of year are Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Ales, Bière de Garde and Scotch Ales. Some great beers to enjoy are: Sam Adams’ Octoberfest, Great Lakes’ Oktoberfest; Two Roads Brewing’s Roadsmary’s Baby; Cigar City’s Good Gourd; Jolly Pumpkin’s Oro De Calabaza; Orkney Brewery’s Skull Splitter; and Traquair House Brewery’s Traquair House Ale.
Whatever you decide to drink and whenever you decide to drink it is of course up to you. However, if you follow these simple guidelines it will only enhance the seasonal experience for you throughout the year. Beers should be a reflection of the environment and act as an aid to enhance the experience in any manner possible.
Enjoy your 2016 in good health.
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.