March not only marks the return of greenery and baseball, in many cases it also harkens in the release of some of Michigan’s most popular and unique brews. You’ll notice an influx of wheat and fruit in most of these offerings that are meant to make our minds dream of summer. Here are a few fresh thirst quenchers to seek out on tap or in markets across the state in early spring.
Arcadia Ales (Battle Creek)
Whitsun Ale (6.2% ABV) has begun to appear around the state. The company has been making this unfiltered wheat beer, enhanced with Michigan honey, since 1997. It’s spiced with orange peel and coriander and small amounts of three hop varieties to pleasantly counter balance the sweetness.
While it may not make use of a fruit commonly found in Michigan, Whango Mango Wheat (4.9% ABV) has become a very popular Detroit beverage. This beer might be as recognizable by its packaging, which features a surfer dude with a paddleboard in front of the city’s skyline, as it is for its flavor. Yet a distinctly original flavor it is. The inclusion of real mango adds a fruity sweetness to both the taste and aroma.
Perhaps the most highly anticipated sign of spring in the local craft beer world is the return of Oberon Ale (5.8% ABV). The refreshing pale wheat ale, will become available March 27. The release party in Kalamazoo is almost as delightful as the brew itself. Made with only 4 ingredients, and without the use of any spices or fruit, Oberon is the color and scent of the sunny afternoons we long for post-winter. Add a slice of orange to enhance your enjoyment.
If one thing is really good, then what happens if you double it? At Dark Horse the answer came out in February and is aptly named Double Crooked Tree IPA (12% ABV). They took their popular Crooked Tree recipe and doubled all of the ingredients except the water. If you like hops, this brew’s for you. Also new to the scene is Rain in Blood (5.5% ABV), which, believe it or not, is a tribute to the heavy metal band, Slayer. In keeping with the name, it’s a pale ale that is brewed with fresh blood oranges and blood orange juice that is hand squeezed at the brewery.
Not surprisingly, spring is a busy time at Founders. Curmudgeon (9.8% ABV) returns in early March. It’s an old ale, which is oak-aged and brewed with molasses to create a rich, smooth, malty beverage. Later in the month the entire city of Grand Rapids will be celebrating the return of the highly-touted Kentucky Breakfast Stout (11.2% ABV), a bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout with coffee and chocolate, which has made its way onto several top beer ranking lists around the world. Look ahead to April for the return of the brewery’s take on a traditional pilsner, PC Pils (5.5% ABV), a refreshing beer for those warmer days to come.
Fruity libations begin to take center stage this time of year, and one of them, Grapefruit IPA (5% ABV) has quickly become one of Michigan's best answers to the age old question, “what does one drink after mowing the lawn?” It’s very aromatic with citrus and tropical fruits, as well as the delicate grapefruit flavor that adds some tartness.
As the name suggests, with a relatively low alcohol strength by volume, Prolonged Enjoyment (3.5% ABV), is a perfect choice for a long day spent in the great outdoors. This Session IPA, brewed with Amarillo, Simcoe, and Citra hops, is slated for a March release. Short’s also has a couple of specialty releases on tap for this month. Chief Hopper (9.2% ABV), a tip of the hat to the Netflix series, Stranger Things, is another Double IPA. This one has dank aromas of pine, grapefruit, pineapple, and mango, accompanied by just a hint of malt. At the other end of the spectrum, the opaque black brew called Publican Porter (8.2% ABV) makes use of heavily roasted malt which imparts flavors of burnt coffee and dark chocolate, accompanied by a slight bitterness.
Beer and baseball just seem to go together. In no way is that more evident than with the annual release of Voice of the Turtle (4.5% ABV) on Tigers Opening Day in Detroit. Named in honor of Ernie Harwell, Voice of the Turtle is an India Pale Lager brewed with Michigan-grown hops from Black Creek Hop Farms and wild Michigan lager yeast harvested from Lake Superior.
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