Artisanal Ales

Brewers look to fruits and herbs for seasonal beers

Adding spices and fruits to beer isn't new–who hasn't added lime to a Corona?–but West Coast brewers are going more exotic with ingredients like kaffir lime and mountain sage. It's a brave new world of beer.

Christina Perozzi, beer consultant for places like Rustic Canyon and Laurel Tavern, says a lot of "flavored" beers are made with artificial extracts and added sugar, but good craft brews will be subtly spiced and taste all-natural. They should be crisp and refreshing, not heavy and cloying.

Some of the best are limited-edition seasonal beers: Spices like nutmeg and cinnamon are often used in winter brews, but summer ales are lighter, with fresh herbs, stone fruits and citrus.

Here are a few for hot-weather sipping:

The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel From Orange County, this light-bodied, Belgian-style ale has hints of coriander and minty Thai basil. Available at L.A.-area Whole Foods and at Wally's Wine and Spirits

Uncommon Siamese Twin The Santa Cruz brewery adds a Thai twist with cumin, lemongrass and coriander–plus a citrusy snap from kaffir lime. Available at Essex Public House, 6683 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; 323-460-6608 or essexhollywood.com

Craftsman The Pasadena brewery's Triple White Sage is fragrant with sage from Central California, and has a dry, hoppy finish. The Orange Grove Ale gets subtle citrus notes from fresh Valencia oranges–including the rinds, which add a touch of bitterness. Both will be available at Father's Office and Lucky Baldwins later this month