On the 21st of March, after a day of eating chocolates and other Hershey candies, I was slumped in a chair in a room at the Hershey Lodge in Pennsylvania sipping a Winter Warmer from the Lancaster Brewing Company. What else would a person drink on the first day of spring? Especially when the forecast for that evening was for sub-freezing temperatures and snow. But it was warm inside and a Winter Warmer seems an appropriate way to welcome spring.
Probably a few people are thinking, "Huh? Everybody knows winter warmers and barleywines are for, well, winter!" And yes, nothing’s quite as welcome on a cold night in late January as a good barleywine. But you know what? I’d also be hard-pressed to come up with a better beer to sip on a chilled early spring night.
Malty, rich, strong, warming, complex, these are perfect beers for early spring. Most American barleywines are hoppier than their English counterparts, and I generally only see the American style for sale in the stores. If you can find them, I’d recommend Bigfoot from Sierra Nevada (hoppy!), Old Crustacean from Rogue, and Old Knucklehead from BridgePort.
Now I need to put my money where my mouth is and pick up a barleywine or two for this weekend…