This Month in Beer is an ongoing series of articles on AskMen where Greg Zeschuk discusses some of the more interesting releases in the world of beer. Dozens of beers are released every month, and his goal is to pick out a small sample of exceptional beers to share with you.
April can be considered the continuation of the spring season, so I'll be focusing on a couple spring beers, as well as some fairly titanic Imperial India Pale Ales (Imperial IPAs) to showcase the bleeding edge of brewing. This month features American beers, drawing inspiration from historical styles that you may have run across before. As always, these beers are quite broadly available, so you should be able to find them throughout North America and even in some parts of Canada.
The first beer I'm covering is the Spring Blonde from New Belgium of Fort Collins, Colo. Like any good blonde ale, it may look like a crisp, clean lager, but under the hood it showcases delightful ale complexity. It pours a clear golden color with a full, fluffy head that lingers delightfully, showing off some classic Belgian lacing (layers of foam on the interior of the glass). On first sniff it shows off some sweet, cakey malt intermingled with lemon notes and spicy hops. Taking a taste, I found that same sweet malt character balanced by spicy hops and a delightfully dry, lingering finish. With an ABV of 6%, this isn't a small beer, and it's got a surprising degree of character and complexity. I could think of few things better than sipping this spring blonde on a patio watching summer approaching.
You might remember that we started discussing Bock beers back in February, so it's only fitting we close spring with another Bock. This time it's the Anchor Bock from Anchor Brewing of San Francisco. At this time of year, fresh Bocks can be elusive, but as a regular seasonal release, there's always next year! Bocks are strong lagers from Germany, traditionally brewed prior to the transition to lighter summer beers. The Anchor Bock follows in this great tradition as a deep, ruby-brown beer featuring lots of toasty and caramel notes in both the aroma and flavor. Like most lagers, this is a very crisp and clean beer with a dry finish, though it maintains the characteristic Bock richness and body. Unlike a lot of American versions of European beers, the hoppy bitterness never dominates, but just barely tantalizes in the finish. This is an ideal beer for those slightly cooler nights some of us in the north are still experiencing in April.
Hop Henge Experimental IPA
This month, we are also looking the Hop Henge Experimental IPA from Deschutes Brewery of Oregon. If you've had a standard IPA before but not an Imperial, the Imperial is simply an even bigger, more muscular, and hoppier big brother of the IPA. In the world of beer there is something of an arms race going on to see who can pile more hops into their beers -- causing much rejoicing among hop heads. This beer includes an experimental variety of hops, as well as a number of West Coast favorites that most beer fans will find familiar. For me, this beer is all tropical fruit and dank, pungent hops. It's got just enough biscuity malt to maintain the balance, but this is all about the hops. The thing that may shock you is that this is an 8.8 percent ABV beer, as the alcohol is really well hidden. And maybe the best part is that if you want to make this amazing beer at home, Deschutes gives you the home-brew recipe here!
This article was written by Greg Zeschuk for AskMen.