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Your guide to spring beers

A hand holds a Beer Store eight-pack of tall cans next to a path lined with blossoming cherry trees.

The best spring beers are deliciously versatile. So, get ready for a fresh season of fun — rain or shine (in Ontario, our fingers are always crossed for sun)

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz…. Who wants to know what the best beer for spring is? Okay, we know you do, so here you go.

Spring is a transitional season. We say farewell to the deep freeze of winter and get geared up for summer fun. And there’s plenty of springtime excitement to celebrate. You may be prepping the garden, opening the cottage, going to farmers’ markets, enjoying local produce or grilling for the first time in months.

Meanwhile, though, the weather’s unpredictable. April showers bring May flowers, right? So, spring brews need to be versatile and adaptable, and not too heavy or too light. If you’re looking for the best beers to go with your spring plans, we’re happy to plant some suggestions here for you.

American pale ale (APA) and session India pale ale (IPA)

These substantial beers have a firm malt backbone, so they add sweetness and cheer when the weather is moody. But APAs and session IPAs are bright enough for sunny days, too. They’re blooming with floral notes and pleasant bitterness, thanks to their citrusy, herbal hops. And they’re a delicious match with shrimp tacos or nachos. Time to toast your first outdoor pub grub of the year?

Saison

This tart, fizzy, refreshing beer style was traditionally brewed for thirsty farmhands in French-speaking Europe. Do you have a garden? That makes you an agricultural worker (sort of), no? Maybe it’s time to make this the season of saison. These brews are a great match for produce, because they enhance fresh, zippy spring flavours, such as rhubarb, radish and mint.

Red, amber and Vienna lager

In Ontario and German-speaking Europe, folks go a bit wild for asparagus when it’s in season. Citizens of Vienna love serving malty reddish lagers with this beloved spring vegetable. The brews’ sweetness contrasts nicely with asparagus’s grassy notes. If you’re barbecuing your asparagus Canadian-style, a malty lager will also enhance the caramel notes delivered by those tasty char marks. These lagers aren’t just for spring, though — you can keep enjoying them all summer long.

Dark and brown ale

Speaking of grilling, who’s up for spring lamb on the barbecue? Dark ales often have molasses, chocolate and roasty flavours that complement grilled red meats. These brews overlap a bit, flavour-wise, with stouts and porters. They have a lighter body, however, which you might appreciate on particularly warm days.

Bock

This is a hard-to-pin-down beer style. Bocks are usually lagers and they tend to be pretty strong. They originated in Catholic, German-speaking Europe, where people observed Lent by eating less food and replacing some of those lost calories with beer. Maibocks (“Mai” means “May” in German) have a lighter mouth feel and are meant to be consumed during their namesake month. You know what else makes these malty mouthfuls a good spring beer? They love being paired with grilled sausages slathered with mustard.

Fruit beer

It’s only natural to celebrate the arrival of cherry blossoms with cherry beer. And to pair strawberry beer with the first Ontario strawberries of the season. Brewers have gotten really creative with all sorts of fruit flavours, so maybe this is just the start of something good year-round. It sounds like the start of a great spring picnic, anyway.

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