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Drinking In the Spring

Go a little citrus-y, a bit red or a lot hoppy

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It's a couple weeks into spring, and despite the fact that people could be skiing until the summer solstice this year, it's finally starting to feel juuuust a bit like the season around town.

To the season-aware beer connoisseur, warmer months always bring saisons to mind. Originally brewed during cooler times of the year in Belgium in order to have something to drink during the summer, saison is now a genre in itself—pale, fruity, spicy and often infused with Belgian yeast for a biscuit-y effect.

New to the genre? Crux has the perfect opportunity to get acquainted this weekend. The afternoon of April 8 is Saison Day at the brewery, where at least seven saisons are slated to be on tap. They'll include a few from Crux (such as Crux Farmhouse), but also guest taps from places including Deschutes, Worthy, Three Creeks and Immersion just down the road. It's a great chance to taste what Belgian farmers have enjoyed for the past few centuries, without having to miss spring in Central Oregon.

Those looking for something more traditional to Northwest palates should look out for the following, all out now or coming soon:

Tanaka (Ex Novo Brewing)

Fresh in cans from this Portland brewery, Tanaka is your typical pale ale—typical, that is, by this outfit's standards. Citra and Cascade hops interact with tangerine puree and zest to create a tropical blast that's sure to fend off scurvy for a while longer.

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Ferocious Citrus IPA (HUB)

A sort of summer take on the Abominable Winter Ale (something pretty obvious when the two can labels are side-by-side), Ferocious runs along similar line as Tanaka, using grapefruit juice and assorted fruit-forward hops to to make this IPA a ray of sunshine. Wheat from Twin Oaks Farm in San Juan Island, Wash., is also added to get that New England IPA-style hazy look that's all the rage right now, although the taste is still purely local.

Swivelhead Red (Deschutes)

Here the new spring seasonal is an IRA, or India-style red ale, similar to what Double Mountain releases year-round. Tropical citrus this is not; it's much closer to an amber ale, with English yeast and a mixture of seven hops that create more of an herbal-tea feel. While hoppy (70 IBU), it doesn't slam the tongue with them at all—a pleasant diversion from the norm.

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Vicious Mosquito (Sunriver)

Sunriver's Galveston Avenue brewpub held a low-key party to celebrate ViMo's launch in six-pack cans a couple weeks back, where cans were sold for a buck each. It was a bit like 1974's Ten Cent Beer Night in baseball, but much classier and with far less rioting. "Even though we've been brewing this beer since our beginnings, I'm still amazed by the complexity of the hop profile," head brewer Brett Thomas said. "Grapefruit, lemon, pine, dank–it's all in there."


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