“Spring is here, spring is here/Life is skittles and life is beer,” sang US satirist Tom Lehrer in “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”.
Yes, beer, as Lehrer so astutely notes, should be a key component of spring, as integral to the season as blooming flowers and impossible-to-predict weather patterns. But precisely which beers should one sup while enjoying the sunshine, or cowering from a flash flood (or both, on some days)?
Here’s Esquire’s pick of the six best beers to drink in spring, served up by award-winning drinks writer Ben McFarland of the Thinking Drinkers.
1 | Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout
“This New York beer is an imperial stout that tastes as if it’s brewed with chocolate,” McFarland says. “It’s not: the flavours are derived from dark kilned barley. Who needs an Easter egg?”
10.6 per cent, £4 for 355ml, beermerchants.com
2 | Meantime India Pale Ale
McFarland says: “India Pale Ale is a notoriously hoppy style of beer. Drawing on London’s India Pale Ale legacy, Meantime has crafted a rich, resinous reproduction full of spicy hop oils and aroma, tones of tobacco and marmalade. A genuine IPA.”
7.4 per cent, £29 for 6 x 750ml, meantimebrewing.com
3 | Paulaner Salvator Doppelbock
“A big doppelbock beer from Bavaria, Salvator was originally brewed by monks in 1774,” McFarland says. “It’s a lager, but not as you may know it. Dark copper in hue and seriously chewy, it has beer geeks muttering things like ‘caramel’, ‘nuts’ and ‘toffee-apple’.”
7.5 per cent, £3 for 500ml, beersofeurope.co.uk
4 | Saison Dupont
“Historically, saisons were rustic, farmhouse ales brewed in winter and stored until the warmer months when they’d slake the thirst of Belgian farm workers after long, hot days in the fields,” McFarland says. “By far the best benchmark in terms of style, Brasserie Dupont’s Saison is a connoisseur classic hailing from a wonderful Walloon farmhouse brewery famed for its soft water. Zesty, citrusy and deliciously dry.”
6.5 per cent, £2 for 330ml, beermerchants.com
5 | Erdinger Urweisse
“Hazy, fruity with a frothy head, wheat beers work well in the spring,” McFarland says. “Seen by many as the saviours of weissbier in the Sixties, Erdinger won over Germany with a softer, less ‘fruity’ version of its cloudy beer. In 2008, Erdinger revived the original stronger, spicier weissbier that’s brewed using way more wheat.”
5.6 per cent, £3 for 500ml, beerhawk.co.uk
6 | Black Sheep Best Bitter Cask Ale
McFarland says: “Made in Masham from the finest malted barley and hops, Black Sheep’s Best Bitter has a distinct softness, a luscious bready body and lively bitterness. And at 3.78 per cent, it won’t give you a woolly head.“
3.8 per cent, £2.90 a pint [RRP], blacksheepbrewery.co.uk
Taken from Esquire's April issue, on newsstands now.
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