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The Best Midwest Seasonal Beer Selections for Any Season

midwest seasonal beer

We’ve collected some examples of beer types that pair well with each season along with some local examples to try!

Foods have their best seasons. There’s nothing like a hearty bowl of soup on a cold winter day except perhaps a cool ice cream cone on a hot summer night. Beers are no different. Beyond the usual spectrum of light and dark beers, many breweries expand their selections based on the season. Heartier brews fit perfectly during those hunkered down winter months, while warmer days encourage sweeter tastes and experimentation. We’ve collected some examples of beer types that pair well with each season along with some local examples to try for yourself before figuring out some new recipes.

Foods have their best seasons. There’s nothing like a hearty bowl of soup on a cold winter day except perhaps a cool ice cream cone on a hot summer night. Beers are no different. Beyond the usual spectrum of light and dark beers, many breweries expand their selections based on the season. Heartier brews fit perfectly during those hunkered down winter months, while warmer days encourage sweeter tastes and experimentation. We’ve collected some examples of beer types that pair well with each season along with some local examples to try for yourself before figuring out some new recipes.

Winter Seasonal Beers

Many consider the winter ale to be the king of the season. These ales are brewed to be stronger, richer and more full-bodied than the usual fare. Also known as winter warmers, these ales are meant to be shared with friends near a roaring fireplace or during a cozy snowfall. These beers are often made with ingredients that call back to other Christmastime foods like dried fruits, molasses and even peppermint.

A Midwest seasonal beer from Milwaukee's Lakefront Brewery.
Lakefront Brewery offers a Holiday Spice seasonal that mixes cinnamon, orange, clove and honey into a treat that cuts through those heavy holiday meals. Winter Skal provides a warm amber hue and a taste to match. The dark mix of chocolate and molasses won New Glarus a gold medal a few years ago, but they’re mixing things up with a new Oatmeal Stout brew called Road Slush this year.

Spring Seasonal Beers

Bocks have been traditionally produced during spring for consumption during winter. Bocks are dark, malty brews first made by German brewers for spring religious festivals such as Lent and Easter. The name comes from the distortion of the hometown of Einbeck to “Ein bock” or a billy goat, to the ears of the citizens of Munich. This is why many bocks feature a goat on the label.

Every year, Great Dane Brewery taps several different bocks in Madison as part of a Bockfest celebration that tries to usher in an early spring. New Glarus made a splash a few years ago with its Back 40 Bock. Chicago’s Berghoff Beer only started producing full-time beers in 2014, but the Rockin’ Bock it makes offers a spicy mix of caramel and rye for a preview of the upcoming warmth.

Summer Seasonal Beers

While we’ve discussed saisons at length, it’s not the only type of summer seasonal available to brewmasters. Many breweries brew wheat ales during the warmer months because of their light taste and airy feel. Wheat beers have become popular thanks to several large brewers adding them to their lineups, but microbreweries love to experiment with flavors and textures to help set them apart from the big boys.

Whippersnapper blends wheat, helles and amber beers in the 4 Brothers Brewery style. The mixture offers a great beer for people who want to get into craft brews but keep the taste of light beers. Capital Brewery brings wheat from Washington Island in Door County to make the popular Island Wheat American Pale Ale. Baaad Boy, from 3 Sheeps Brewing, shows just how flexible a wheat beer can be. It’s darker than some porters and mixes a chocolate taste with a light touch.

Fall Seasonal Beers

The flavor of the season that dominates so much of the rest of this season is no stranger here. Pumpkin ales are very popular during fall. Rather than being restricted to a single type of beer, pumpkin is added to several different types and is just as likely responsible for the pumpkin revolution as the Pumpkin Spice Latte. While many experts lament the popularity of the brew, it seems like it’s here to stay.

The Painted Ladies refer not just to the Victorian storefronts of Lake Mills but also to their pumpkin spice infused amber ale. Point Brewery won a medal with Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale as part of a series of seasonal brews. Water Street Brewery combines ingredients from several other Milwaukee businesses to produce a Pumpkin Ale that tastes like pumpkin pie in a glass.

No matter the season, there exists a beer that fits both the temperature and the palette. Winter beers offer heavy tastes and filling textures. Spring beers lighten up and hint at the warmth around the corner. Summer beers are flirty flings with flavors. Fall beers dive into the flavor of the season. Whether you’re looking to refresh your selections or find inspiration for your own beers, the seasons will change the way you think about beer.


Featured image courtesy Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski licensed under CC by 2.0.

Image courtesy Flickr user Russ Neumeier licensed under CC by 2.0.

 

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