2017 is underway, and that “new year, new me” nonsense saturating your social media feed, office interactions, and morning trips to the cafe has your mental clarity hanging on by a thread. We know. But what if you flipped it and reversed it, and made this year about drinking new and incredible beer – even enjoying particular beer styles when they were meant to be drunk, instead of sipping the same tired old picks that you fill your vegetable drawer with?
Why Seasonal Beer
When it comes to homemade beer and drinking it, you’re out for the fastest, simplest, and most flavorful path to your end point. You aren’t thinking about which beers are meant to be enjoyed in each season, because omggggg is the beer done yet I’m going to the pub right now this is all too much.
So we did it for you. We built out a guide to brewing and drinking the beers intended for each season. That being said, we don’t plan on busting down your door if we see you ordering up the recipe for a light Saison to be enjoyed in the dead of winter. You do you. “Seasonal” beers can be pretty subjective, and that’s all good by us. We’re just saying, maybe consider that the dark, rich, heavy Stout you’ve been eyeing isn’t likely to be a hit while everyone is sweating it out and munching on ribs by your pool.
Seasonal homebrewing is also smart because there will be times of year when certain ingredients are harder to locate, and as more of our brewers dabble in partial mash recipes that can require additional fresh ingredients, this is important.
While everyone huddled around the Keurig smugs it up about their choice to “really eat with the seasons and hear their body’s intuition this year,” just let them know that you plan to do the same – but with beer. Aren’t you fancy.
We’re currently in winter, so let’s start there. The beer you brew now will be ready for drinking in the springtime. If you aim to celebrate any particular birthdays or holidays in the spring, you’ll want to select beer recipes for those occasions now. This is how we organized our homebrewing calendar – we’ve given recipe suggestions for each season along with the relevant holidays you may be forgetting about that fall within that season.
Springtime is all about St. Patty’s, Easter, and Mommas. So, what’s good to brew? Irish Red Ales & Stouts are a flavorful way to commemorate Ireland’s patron saint, and they’re sure to be much more popular with your nearest and dearest than some bizarre green concoction built for looks but not flavor. In Germany, Bocks are a popular pick for special occasions like Easter and Lent (likely because they were once brewed and drank by Bavarian monks as their sustenance during fasting). Maibocks (literally May-Bock) are often made for consumption at spring festivals, and tend to be paler/more hoppy than a standard Bock. Spring is also a great time to drink something hazy, fruity, and smooth – think Blonde Ale, Belgian Wit, German Weiss/Wheat beers. Enjoy the notes of coriander and orange or banana and clove, keeping these light and fluffy à la the Easter Bunny. Brew Fruit Beers crafted with what’s in season to really wow ‘em. We chose the Apricot Wheat homebrew recipe – so good you might even brew it for your momma.
Summer means higher temperatures, brewing for your Pop, and grillin’ plus fireworks. You’ll be looking for light, well-carbonated and refreshing beer. Cream Ale, Steam Beer or California Common, Kölsch, and Saison are all beer styles that meet that mark well. Don’t be confused – Cream Ales don’t actually contain any dairy, nor should they taste like cream, they are meant to be pale, smooth and creamy on your palate. Steam Beer will be more malty, dry, and carbonated. Kölsch is a crisp and bright classic out of Cologne, Germany (Köln). Saison may be more adventurous than the others as its spicy, farmhouse aroma gives it unique character. Our Saison du Miel, made with honey, is sure to be a spicy, dry, and fizzy winner at any cookout.
When folks read “fall beer” their mind tends to go one of two ways, either they immediately salivate over Pumpkin Beer or they rub their palms together in anticipation of those Oktoberfest Lagers. This is the time of Oktoberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and pumpkin spice everything. We say your beer should resemble the foliage – think coppers, reds, and browns. Amber Ales, Brown Ales, and Dunkelweizens (the dark cousin of Hefeweizen) will all bring the balanced maltiness and smooth body that you’re finally ready for as the temperatures drop and you begin bundling up again.
The chilly holiday season is ideal for higher ABV, bold spice, and strong flavors. Rich and boozy Aged Beers and Barley Wine will keep you warm all the way to your toes. Bust out the Stouts, Porters, Strong Belgians and Bold Wheats. With Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s celebrations filling your calendar – you’ll want a holiday brew to impress guests and gift to friends. During this time of year, recipes tend to get heavy in the cocoa, vanilla, chili notes because nothing says decadence like a high ABV brew that goes down like a spicy hot chocolate for grown-ups.
Now this is how you brew beer at home! Brew like you are running your very own craft brewery, with some year-round favorites on tap 24/7, and some unforgettable seasonal beers in rotation that get folks excited to see what you’ll do next.
Now remember, brewing times vary with our 140+ homebrew choices, so while these guides will keep you on track, some are meant to condition for a lot longer. Don’t forget to check the total brewing times listed on each beer’s page!
Download our brewing calendar and print it for the ol’ fridge so that you don’t lose track of the next season’s brewing ideas.