The darkness of winter has been replaced with the revitalising freshness of spring. Lambs, wild garlic, daffodils, fluttering butterflies and chirping birds are just some of the things that mark the change of season. And spring also brings with it a gentle change in the beer we drink and the food we eat.
We're now surrounded by a vibrancy of colour that you'll see in your glass and on your plate. We're talking fresh foods such as salmon with asparagus and fragrant ales where the hops give floral, grassy, blossom, lemon, citrus and tropical fruit notes. Sound springtime enough for you?
So let's take salmon with roast asparagus. Here the beer needs to complement the crisp, clean flavours of the dish without overwhelming them, so a wheat beer or saison fits the bill. Franziskaner is a hazy wheat beer with citrus and spicy notes that'll marry well with the dish. Or try Wild Beer Co's Epic Saison where the tangy bittersweet fruitiness will couple particularly well with the asparagus. Keeping it fishy, both wheat beers and saisons will work well with fish such as grilled mackerel or sea bass. Look to lagers too, which offer gentle citrus notes, sweetness from the malt and also carbonation that'll cleanse the palate. There's even room for a Belgian ale such as Affligem with its fruity flavour pairing well with asparagus too.
If you're more a meat lover there's an abundance of spring foods and beer matches to delve into. Chicken with sugar snap peas and spring herbs just shouts 'spring', and pairing it with a zesty golden ale will complement the dish. Try Adnams Spindrift, Harviestoun's Bitter & Twisted, Fyne Ales Avalanche, Fuller's Honeydew and Butcombe Haka to name but five. And is there a more springy food than lamb? Here beers got your back too with pale ales offering the oomph to stand up to the meat and the deftness to complement the natural sweetness in the dish. Options such as Timothy Taylor's Landlord, Thornbridge Kipling, Camden Town Pale Ale, Ilkley's Mary Jane and Five Points Pale will all work a treat.
There's also plenty of spring vegetarian dishes to get your teeth into. Fabulous salads abound with additions such as asparagus, peas, spring onions and spinach creating a gorgeous plate of spring greenery. Lightness is needed with the beer too. Wheat beers, light lagers, subtle pale ales and crisp blonde ales have the gentle touch so look to Schneider Wiesse, Staropramen, Titanic's Anchor and Wharfe Bank's Tether Blonde respectively.
We'll end with dessert of course, because there's spring in our step there too with seasonal spring delights such as rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries offering a huge array of pudding possibilities. From crumbles to cobblers there's a beer match for them all with the three C's (complement, contrast and cut) all getting a run-out. Complement the fruit in a strawberry cheesecake with St Austell's Strawberry Blonde, a light lager where the carbonation will cut through the creaminess and cleanse (that's another C) the palate.
Spring is rhubarbs moment in the sun so throw some in a crumble and pair it with Little Valley Brewery's Vanilla Porter. The sweetness of the beer will complement the sweetness of the dish with its vanilla notes playing the role of custard with aplomb. For some raspberries sing spring and a wonderfully indulgent dessert is pavlova. Here opt for Goddess of the Spring by the Celt Experience, a rich pink strawberry, loganberry and raspberry saison that'll both complement the sweet fruit in the dish but also contrast it with its tart, sourness - what a clever beer. There's also Meantime's Raspberry Wheat Beer that has the lightness to dance along with the meringue and the fruitiness to meld with the raspberries in the pavlova.
So spring is here and it's a good time to eat delicious fresh produce and pair your dishes with a diverse and versatile range of beers. What will be in your glass?