a few choice spring seasonals
A few winters ago I went to Target to buy dish soap in February and I came home with a two-piece swimsuit. Similarly, I bought gardening supplies last week while there was about 2 feet of snow on the ground. There’s no getting around it, the world of retail plans ahead.
The same is true for beer – seasonals often precede the season by a month or more. This can be fun if you are really looking forward to something. But if you want a pumpkin beer for Thanksgiving, good luck.
Quickly, before everything freezes over again, I want to introduce three spring seasonals that I tasted for the first time this year. I chose two beers from Great Divide and one from Breckenridge in part because of their aesthetic appeal, and also because I will be visiting Denver in May.
Spring brings a vast array of beer that is starkly unlike the beers of late fall and winter. Common spring seasonals include bock, wheat, blonde, and rye beers. Pale ales and Belgian goldens often crop up, too, along with the occasional saison.
Opheila is classified as an American Pale Wheat Ale and it uses Mosaic and Palisade hops with three malt varieties. The aroma is grassy with citrus, and the beer is a hazy yellow-tan with fluffy head. There is very fun lacing with this beer, almost like constellations. The hoppiness of the Ophelia is more fruity and floral than bitter. The softness of the wheat cuts the bitterness effectively, but the bitterness hits quickly and sustains.
The strength of this brew is the mouthfeel. Although the flavor was satisfying, the texture was outstanding.
Until now I have not spoken much about Great Divide, but it is a brewery producing a steady stream of very solid beers much deserving of attention.
Brian Dunn founded Great Divide after studying brewing and marketing, setting Denver up to be the brewing beacon that it is today. Since 1994 Great Divide has created diverse beer styles, steadily adding to brewing capacity, staff, and distribution. In 2001, they purchased their building, an old dairy processing plant, making themselves even more of a staple within the Denver community.
With 45 passionate employees, Great Divide has grown into what it is today: winner of 18 Great American Beer Festival medals, recipient of 5 World Beer Cup awards, and subject of many accolades from RateBeer and Beer Advocate. – Adapted from Great Divide
Lasso is a perfectly amber color with a grassy, mildly sour aroma. There is a soapy white head with some lacing in the glass. The taste is very hoppy from the use of Centennial, Cascade and Columbus hops. At 5% ABV, Great Divide refers to this beer as a “session IPA”. I don’t think the term “session” applies to this beer – I prefer to call it a hoppy pale ale.
In addition the the Lasso, one of my favorite spring seasonals thus far has been Orabelle, also from Great Divide.
Honestly I scooped this one up because of the delicate and understated label but after hearing more than one person compare it to Tripel Karmeleit, I popped it open.
Orabelle is a winner. It is a pretty cloudy white-yellow in the glass with head the texture of sea foam. A Belgian-Style Tripel, the complexity of malt – barley, wheat, oats, and rye – underscore the Belgian yeast beautifully. It features two yeast strains, orange peel, and coriander. There is an intriguing soft citrus and spice that dominates the flavor with a delicate yet insistent mouthfeel. It is delicately robust, if you can imagine that.
Actually, don’t imagine it, just go buy some. Quickly, before it’s gone.