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Finding the best spring beers

March 20, 2013|By John Verive
(John Verive )

We may have it easy in Los Angeles when it comes to winter, but that doesn't mean we can't be excited for spring's arrival. Today marks the vernal equinox, and with it comes longer days, exciting farmers market finds, and a whole new variety of beers to take the place of winter's stouts and barley wines.

While there are no hard-and-fast rules for matching beer to the seasons, some styles are traditionally associated with spring. This is especially true in Germany, where the typical spring beer is a strong lager known as a bock. These beers are malty, often dark, and usually nearly 7% alcohol, and the even stronger sub-style known as dopplebock is a popular German import. Classic examples are the Paulaner Salvator and the billy-goat-adorned Ayinger Celebrator.

Bocks are usually lightly hopped, and their rich malt-forward flavors are a fine match to the brisk Bavarian spring. Spring arrives in L.A. more abruptly, and lighter, hoppier, and more refreshing beers are often a better match for our spring. Belgian wit biers and German hefeweizens fit Southern California's spring climate, and their spicy and crisp flavors pair wonderfully with spring salads.

Spring also means the beginning of the baseball season, and few beers pair better with America's pastime than a crisp and hoppy pilsner. A growler of the still-nameless pilsner brewed by Angel City Brewery downtown, or Pivo Pils -- the new, intensely floral example from Firestone Walker -- are great companions to opening day.

Saisons have exploded in popularity in the craft beer world, and while the style is typically associated with summer, Orange County's The Bruery makes a springtime version known as Saison Du Lente that is light and hoppy with a touch of wild-yeast funk. It is difficult to find a cheese or a salami that doesn't match the beer, making it a perfect bottle for a spring picnic or al fresco Easter brunch.

The vernal equinox also means the release of one of L.A.'s most approachable sour beers: Eagle Rock Brewery's aptly named Equinox. This barrel-aged sour ale is a light golden color, and it balances a pleasant lemon tartness with a mild hoppy finish. The beer has a reputation for opening a drinker's eyes to the world of sour beers, and it will be available on tap and in cork-and-cage finished bottles at the brewery beginning Thursday. 

There's a beer for every season, and there's a springtime beer for every palate. Do you have a favorite beer for L.A.'s long spring afternoons?

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