[OSBURN ON TAP] Smarch Madness

“Lousy Smarch weather.”-Homer Simpson.

The NCAA March Madness tournament is in full swing. Do you know what that means? It means that spring is quickly arriving and it’s time to start thinking about barbeques, yard games and the lighter side of beer. I know in some parts of the country snow is still a possibility, but as the great men of Monty Python once sang: “always look on the bright side of life”.

(S)March Madness has a different meaning to me. It’s the time of year when we can see the first real inklings of spring appearing around us. Oh, the first sign of grass that isn’t brown and trampled? Yes, it’s amazing to see you old friend. How about actually hearing birds chirping during the day? How about the ability to still see the sun when I get home from work?

We are just about a week away from April. According to my estimation (random guessing), we can count on guaranteed sixty plus weather (to stay) in the northeast (and warmer below) within the next thirty (more like forty) or so days. So that means that we can officially break out the beers that we deemed to light to drink during the cold and bleak winter months.

I may have already done this since I’ve been writing this column for a long time now, but I want to explain in detail some of the beer styles that are more suited to the warmer months. I’ll delve into what they are, their histories and when the best time to imbibe them is. Shall we?


Hefeweizen, or wheat beer, is not surprisingly brewed with a ton of wheat as well as malted barley. This style originated in southern Germany during the middle ages. Brewers began brewing this yellow, pale style because wheat and barley were by far the most prevalent grains available at the time.

This style is extremely popular in the U.S. during the spring and summer. The two main styles are witbier (white beer) and weissbier. They are known for their usually cloudy and yeasty color and flavor as well as hints of coriander and orange peel.

Some popular brands available in the U.S are:

Hoegaarden, Harpoon UFO, Redhook Hefeweizen, Ottercreek Summer Wheat Ale, Sierra Nevada kellerweis, Franziskaner Hefeweisse, Blue Moon and many many more.

These are a terrific accompaniment to bocce, croquet and lounging on a nice porch or deck in the sun. They can be imbibed on their own or with the addition of a lemon, lime or orange slice.

Pale Ale

Pale ale has two main characteristics that distinguish it from other styles. The first is that it is top fermented and the second is that it is pale. Pretty simple, right? Not so fast. Pale ale was originally the name for a beer made from malt dried with coal. That’s right, coal. What coal has to do with it being pale, I have no clue. Back in 1642, coal was used to roast malt, but the term was finally established in 1703. By the 1800’s, beers that were lighter were referred to as pales or bitters and that is still the case today. One of my favorite bitter style brews is Fuller’s London Pride.

As for what pale ale actually is, we have to look at the different styles. They are Amber ale, American pale ale, Biere de Garde (French farmhouse pale), Burton pale ale, English bitter, India pale ale and Irish red ale. There are also strong pale ale varieties. They are American strong ale, English strong ale and Scotch ale. Pretty much, most beers that are very light in appearance and aren’t wheat beers fall under the category of pale ale.

Back to Scotch ale. It’s one of my favorite beer styles, but it is far more suited to the winter months due to the strong alcohol content. Although, I am excited for baseball season to start so I can enjoy a scotch ale from the Rhorbach brewing company at a Rochester Red Wings game. Nothing beats a good tall beer and a hot dog at a ballgame on a sunny, warm day. I can make an exception to drink this beer on a beautiful day,

Some popular brands available in the U.S. are:

Bass Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Anchor Liberty Ale, Dale’s Pale Ale, Stone Pale Ale, Phin and Matt’s Extraordinary Ale,  Shipyard Summer Ale, Porkslap Pale Ale and many many more.

*What are you looking forward to drinking now that warmer weather is on its way? Let me know. Comment below or throw me an email cosburn@thefatherlife.com

Leave a Reply