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Never mind the calendar — we’re ready for spring

hart glowing beer 2

You might think that it would be tough to talk about beers intended for warmer weather while it’s still snowing outside.

And you would be wrong. It’s actually easy.

And really, what’s not to like? A fluffy white ale with splash of bright, zesty ginger? An IPA with a rich, juicy — and let’s go ahead and call it dank — hop flavor?

Or a ridiculously easy-to-drink Austrian grapefruit radler?

The craft beer industry isn’t especially patient — or tied to what the rest of us think of as the seasons — which is why we see pumpkin beer on the shelves in August or why we can celebrate Halloween with our favorite Christmas ale. The industry’s spring season isn’t as well defined, but Hart Johnson, the guy who orders beer for Piper’s Pub on the South Side, says he starts thinking about a move away from heavier beers like stouts, porters or barrel-aged concoctions in February, because that’s when the sales reps that visit the pub start pushing fare that’s appropriate for warmer weather.

The profile of a spring seasonal isn’t as well defined as a malty Oktoberfest or a spiced Christmas beer either, although Mr. Johnson correctly points out there are some common threads; a turn towards lighter, brighter flavors, especially like the ginger in Roundabout’s Maui Wit or the the juicy character of the mosaic hops in The Brew Gentlemen’s Momo pale ale. It won’t be limited to spring, but you’re going to see even more pale ales and IPAs that are pushing citrusy hops — or just straightforward additions of citrus to the beer.

And, especially if we’re talking about German brewing traditions, there are styles, like marzens or maibocks, that show up when the winter weather starts to break.

And that radler? Yes, it’s true that we’re probably skipping over spring and jumping directly to mid-July with that light, fizzy and crisp mix of lager and grapefruit juice. But if you want a glass of sunshine, that’s where you can find it … even when there are still snowflakes in the air.

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