8 Michigan craft brews for winter spring, and beyond

Seasonal sensations

Mar 9, 2016 at 1:00 am

Late winter and early spring see a bevy of beer releases, but some are really worth celebrating. Here are a few.

This year started off with a bang thanks to the buildup for Hopslam Ale from Bell's Brewery. It's a double IPA brewed with Michigan honey, and at 10 percent ABV, it packs a wallop. To meet the brewery's already busy production schedules, it was released in cans this year, only the sixth Bell's beer to bypass the bottle, but the first to come out in a six-pack.

February is usually the last chance for Motor City Brewing Works' Belgian Tripel, a classic Belgian-style golden ale that's fruity and a bit spicy with a kick somewhere north of 9 percent ABV. It can be had in a six-pack of bottles up to a half-barrel Sankey-style keg.

St. Patrick's day marks the end of winter, making it the perfect time for craft brewers to release their Irish reds. Not all brews will be on store shelves, but you'll be able to pick up a growler of Corktown Red at the award-winning Dragonmead in Warren. But the malt-forward Red from Royal Oak's Axle Brewing Co. is in the can.

March is also when Founders Brewing Co. releases its Breakfast Stout, a seasonal ritual that gets beer dorks hot and bothered. It's breakfast-like, with flaked oats, chocolate flavors, and two coffee notes, it's like fresh-roasted coffee and syrupy pancakes in a bottle.

Plenty of fans of Bell's get keyed up for the spring release of Bell's Oberon. For almost 20 years, Oberon has helped soften resistance to craft beer with the sun-splashed pale wheat ale that bears floral and citrus flavors. For many Michigan beer nuts, its release is a rite of spring.

In all the fuss over wheats and wits, one thing that often gets overlooked in the spring is maibock, a traditional German springtime beer. That's a shame, because Atwater Brewery's Mai Bock may be one of the brewery's best beers.

Lovers of Detroit-area beer have more than seasonal bottles to look forward to in 2016. Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. is expanding into a new taproom in Clinton Township, scheduled to open by the beginning of March. When that happens, the brewery will be releasing its sought-after DRIPA in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles. Literally a "Double Rice IPA," it won the IPA Gold Medal at the 2012 World Beer Cup.

And while it's not technically seasonal, Space Rock, the newest beer to join the flagship line of the ever-flavorful Short's Brewing Co., is worth a closer look. Yeah, the hipster riding a space snowmobile is some of the silliest art yet, but in addition to being a moderately bitter brew with citrus and floral accents, the beer is gluten-free. It turns out the Brewer's Clarex Short's used to knock out chill haze also gobbled up gluten as well.