- By Arianna Auber American-Statesman Staff
Although we’ve had a mild winter that felt as though spring came a month early, the season of growth and promise has now officially arrived — and with it lighter, more refreshing beers than the porters, stouts, quads and other high-alcohol bruisers prominent in wintertime.
Austin breweries are releasing their spring seasonals as well as new year-round beers especially suited for the warmer days to come. This year, wheat brews, lagers and mildly hoppy ales are plentiful.
Here are the local beers you’ll want to have on your favorite porch, patio or picnic blanket in the hopefully cheerful months ahead.
Adelbert’s Mango Wit
Although the North Austin brewery has made its latest canned beer a year-round offering, the tropical brew seems especially suited to the spring and summer seasons. Adelbert’s made the Mango Wit with lemon peel and real, true, juicy mango, and let me emphasize the word “juicy” again. That’s exactly how this beer tastes: as if Adelbert’s filled cans with the sweet liquid squeezed from pounds of mangoes, threw in some citrus for balance and carbonated the result.
The Mango Wit isn’t overly sweet, though. Adelbert’s owner Scott Hovey and his brewing team chose to incorporate the rarely used mango, he said, because of its mouthfeel, working up several experimental taproom batches to find the one that would best showcase the tropical fruit.
“We were having a bottle share and discussing fruit in beers and thought the lightness but unique body of the fruit would go well,” he said.
Uncle Billy’s Day Glow Hefeweizen
After getting a lot of requests for a hefeweizen on the tap wall — especially now that the Barton Springs brewpub has moved away from its program of guest beers like Live Oak’s famous hefeweizen — Uncle Billy’s head brewer Trevor Nearburg decided it was time to make one.
He tweaked the recipe so that the Day Glow isn’t your typical aromatic hefeweizen and selected a more subtle yeast that doesn’t give off “that big nose of banana,” he said. His small change seems to be working: Day Glow has already climbed to third most popular beer on the tap wall.
Hops & Grain River Beer
So far just on draft, the recently debuted American premium lager is hopefully going into cans by Memorial Day and aims to be exactly what its name suggests: an easy-drinking beer, light and clean, to take on floats down the river. Tubing, a popular Central Texas pastime, draws people of all stripes to places like New Braunfels and San Marcos, where Hops & Grain is opening its next location. The name, sales manager William Bearden said, just seemed to fit.
“It’s us open arming the 92 percent of the Texas population that doesn’t drink craft beer,” he said. “I want all of those people to be drinking River Beer.”
Circle Brewing M’Lady English IPA
The 6-year-old brewery might make the bulk of its sales with mainstays Alibi Blond, Envy Amber and Blur Texas Hefe, now all in freshly designed cans, but Circle is also finding a niche with different types of IPAs. The latest is the spring seasonal M’Lady, which emulates an Old World style largely abandoned when bitter American IPAs took hold.
“We brew what we want to drink and look at gaps in the market. And there aren’t really English IPAs,” Circle co-owner Ben Sabel said. “Ours is not overly hoppy. We’re emulating the original British style with English ale yeast, with dried fruit notes present, but mostly what you’re getting is a good malt base. It’s also definitely citrusy because of the hops, East Kent Golding,” an English variety.
St. Elmo Brewing Rain “Pail” Ale
For this South Austin brewery’s first collaboration beer, St. Elmo’s head brewer Bryan Winslow didn’t turn to another brewery but instead teamed up with Richard’s Rainwater, a company that collects falling raindrops in holding tanks near Dripping Springs and bottles them. The pale ale was brewed with 100 percent Richard’s Rainwater, which is completely free of minerals.
The pale ale, only available on tap at St. Elmo, is more earthy than the mainstay Chico Pale Ale thanks to Winslow’s use of Cascade and Mandarina Bavaria hops. Maybe it’s only your imagination, but Rain might taste a bit cleaner somehow, too.
Real Ale Pinsetter Amber Lager
You get a little bit of Central Texas history with this new year-round bottled brew from Real Ale, named as a nod to old-fashioned nine-pin bowling, a hobby the Germans brought over to the U.S. but which is now extinct everywhere except Texas. The sport — which uses people as pinsetters rather than modern machines — is particularly big in the brewery’s Blanco home.
Nine-pin bowling in Texas goes back about 180 years, and the style of beer that Pinsetter Amber Lager is inspired by, a California Common, comes from just about the same time period: when our West Coast neighbor was newly a state but didn’t have the refrigeration capabilities to brew a lager, which ferments at colder temperatures.
Pinsetter, medium-bodied with a clean malt character and subtle fruitiness, has already proven so popular that Real Ale has had to adjust its production schedule to make more of it.
Austin Beerworks Heisenberg
Act fast to get a six-pack of these Granny Smith apple-green cans because there aren’t many, if any, left in stores now. The Heisenberg, a kristallweizen, is just the latest seasonal that rapidly expanding Austin Beerworks has decided to can with one of Helms Workshop’s colorful, patterned designs “related to the inspiration and personality of the beer inside,” according to brewery co-owner Michael Graham.
The kristallweizen is a clear wheat beer, its literal translation — essentially, a filtered hefeweizen. Austin Beerworks uses a specialized centrifuge to remove the yeast, which makes for “a lighter body and cleaner finish while keeping all the wonderful banana and clove flavors hefeweizens are famous for,” Graham said.
As for the pattern on the cans, that, you’ll notice, is a bunch of minuscule RVs. The brewery will tell you why, but you might not get it if you’re not a TV fan: “Heisenberg just really reminds us of driving an RV in our underwear,” Graham said.