Ah, Spring. The buds are growing, the birds are chirping, the kegs of craft spring seasonal brews are rolling into bars.
Too many to name, too many to try, too many that you can't sip without traveling well out of New Jersey. Take Pliney The Younger from California's Russian River Brewing, a coveted beer maker that, defying all reason, does not distribute in the Garden State.
Pliney, a Triple India Pale Ale (meaning triple the amount of hops of a regular IPA) that packs a punch at 10.5% ABV, is released for only two weeks in February. The son of Russian River's staple IPA, Pliney The Elder, made its way to select bars across the country over the past few weeks, and some drove hundreds of miles just to try it.
Luckily for us in New Jersey, though, what many craft beer connoisseurs consider the best brewery in America is a short ferry ride from Cape May. And if you hurry to liquor stores in Bergen and Passaic counties, you'll be able to try what could be the best spring seasonal beer released this year.
A good drinker at 7% ABV, Aprihop is an American IPA brewed with apricots that undergoes continuous Amarillo hop additions. The apricots only play a supporting role in this flavor ballet, adding just a tiny bit of sweetness to the brew's hoppy body.
The core of Aprihop, which is sold in four-packs, is a malt profile that includes Pilsner and Crystal malts. Teaneck Patch editor Noah Cohen told me gleefully the other day that this year's Aprihop is hoppier than previous years.
It's a delight to drink on a sunny spring day while listening to Jerry Jeff Walker and getting the yard in order.
Oh, and if you're out looking for Aprihop (you can use FishFinder to find any Dogfish Head beer), be sure to keep an eye out for an even more limited DFH brew that's started to hit shelves, Saison du BUFF.
Saison du BUFF, which is a 6.8% ABV saison brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. It's a collaboration between Dogfish, Stone Brewing of Escondido, Calif., and Victory Brewing of Downington, Penn.
(BUFF stands for Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor, a group started by the founders of each brewery in 2003)
Each brewer will make one batch of it this year, according to the Dogfish Head site, and it's definitely worth a glass or four:
Dogfish Head - March
Victory Brewing - April
Stone Brewing - Late May