While snow may still cover the mountain slopes, the longer daylight hours are a sure sign that spring is on the way. And with the spring comes new seasonal beer.
Spring seasonals will hit the taps at West Virginia breweries in the coming weeks and continue through May. To help folks make their spring beering plans, here’s a list of some local brews that will either debut or reappear over the next three months.
Sometimes it’s fun to just change things up. Like our West Virginia spring weather, expect the unexpected. Chestnut Brew Works is doing just that with its Entish Ale. Founder/head brewer Bill Rittenour says this spring seasonal is a little unorthodox, but he feels it’s a good fit for the chilly nights that early spring can offer.
Entish is an English-style Old Ale, a malt-forward, heavyish beer brewed with a hefty amount of Marris Otter malt and molasses sourced from the local Mountain People’s Co-op in Morgantown. The 8.8% ABV beer is available through March at the brewery tasting room and limited other accounts in the Morgantown area.
Sluice Dry Stout
Alexander Durand, cellarman for Big Timber Brewing, says a new batch of Sluice Dry Stout will be released in time for St. Patrick’s Day. It will be available to all Big Timber markets in draught.
“Our Sluice Stout is dark and roasty with a little bit of chocolate,” says Durand. “This beer has a light mouthfeel and dry finish.”
Sluice is hopped with Magnum and Cascade hops, but most of its perceived bitterness comes from the roasted malt. 5% ABV and 44 IBUs.
For those looking to take a break from St. Patrick’s season stouts, but still stay Irish, Ryan Heastings of Charleston Brewing Company has an answer. He offers Pint-Sized Brewer, a richly malty Irish Red Ale. This beer is on tap now and will run through the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period.
Heastings calls Pint-Sized Brewer a fairly traditional take on the style, with U.K.-sourced malt, hops, and yeast. He says the 6.3% ABV beer is “pretty slammable,” and could appear at other bar or restaurant accounts beyond its Charleston staples of Black Sheep Burritos, Pies & Pints, and Taylor Books.
Black Diamond Lager
As an early-spring seasonal, Black Diamond was Bridge Brew Works’ very first seasonal, first brewed seven years ago. Stylistically, it is a black German lager or Schwarzbier. Brewer/co-founder Ken Linch says the beer continues to surprise people who think all dark beer is thick.
“It has a light aroma of dark malt, tastes of dark malts and bittersweet chocolate with a semi-dry finish balanced with German hops,” Linch states.
Look for it on draught throughout March and probably April. 5.0% ABV.
LIlly Dipper Wit
Brian Reymiller, head Brewer at Greenbrier Valley, reports they are brewing Lilly Dipper Wit again. “We had such great response from it last year, we thought we would brew it again,” he says. “We brew it to style using 50% pilsner malt, and 50% unmalted wheat and give it a little flavor and spice with sweet orange peel, and a bit of Hallertau Blanc hops.”
Lilly Dipper is a light, refreshing Belgian-style wheat ale that should complement those days of daffodils and tulips. It will be available around the state on draught.
Center Market Lager
A good spring/summer lager always has a place at the table, and Wheeling Brewing Company will fill that need with its Center Market Lager. Jimmy Schulte, Wheeling’s co-founder and general manager says it is a light, enjoyable lager with Pilsen malt and Hallertauer hops, it will be made in a light and refreshing style. Arriving at the brewery taps in April, the beer will be close to 5.0% ABV and 20 IBUs (estimated).
Coming quickly on the heels of his Irish Red Ale, Charleston Brewing’s Heastings will bring us another one of his takes on West Coast IPA. In Simquinox IPA, he uses a blend of Simcoe and Equinox hops, both late on the hot-side, as well as in the dry hop regime.
Heastings says, “Like all of our pale hoppy offerings, this beer will have no crystal malt, finish dry, and showcase hop flavor and aroma over base bitterness.” Simquinox will be available to the trade in 1/6 bbl kegs, with the balance poured over the bar at Black Sheep Burritos. 7.2% ABV (estimated).
Bridge Brew Works Crux, a Kolsch-style ale, will return again this year and be available in draught and in aluminum bottles (in a very limited amount).
“We have gradually tweaked the receipe over the years,” says Ken Linch. “This year we expect the Crux will be softer on the pallet.”
Expect this year’s Crux to be 4.1% ABV and a light to medium straw color with a white head. Brewed with all-German ingredients, BBW hopes to release Crux to distribution in late April.
New School DIPA
Charleston Brewing will also bring back New School Double IPA. This pale beer features Simcoe and Mosaic hops, lean body, dry finish and good drinkability even at its 8% ABV. New School will be split between 1/6 bbl kegs allocated to distribution and over-the-bar sales at Black Sheep Burritos.
Momma Rye IPA
Ken Linch reminds us Bridge Brew Works always brews Momma Rye IPA for Mother’s Day (May 8, 2016). Brewery co-founder Nathan Herrold’s mother’s maiden name was Rye, and this beer is brewed in honor of her and her struggle with ovarian cancer. Momma Rye is a light gold IPA with a floral, spicy aroma and a dry, crisp, spicy flavor.
“The rye malt accentuates the dry spicy character of this beer,” Linch says. “Five different hops are used and the Columbus hop is featured. Whole leaf Columbus is used in the hopback, and we dry hop with Columbus and Palisade hop pellets.”
Momma Rye IPA has an actual laboratory tested IBU of 60 (which is a lot of IBUs). The beer should be out in distribution in draught and aluminum bottles by late April. 6.7% ABV.
And finally, here’s a spring teaser: Greenbrier Valley’s Reymiller reports that they currently have three beers aging in Smooth Ambler bourbon barrels, all of which should reach maturation by sometime in the April-May time period. Hopefully, we’ll soon get more information on the release dates for these specialties