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Beer Mailbag: SweetWater and New Belgium Ring In Spring

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- It's just plain rude to have a fridge full of beer and not share some of it.

I've spoken about the touchy subject of free beer samples before, but for every brewer that stopped sending them as a result, two more took their place. If they're worth mentioning, I try to work them into stories and pertinent lists, but beer (sadly) isn't my full-time beat and the bottles and cans start to pile up after a while.

As do the press releases, invitations and other correspondence that finds its way to my porch and inbox. While there are some that are just inevitably going to be lost in the shuffle or passed along, I've been of the mind lately that if I drink a sample or am intrigued by a beer, I should be writing about it. Not just a tweet here or there (though I do that too at @Notteham), but an actual, full-length sample of what folks are sending and what I'm tasting. From now on, I'll be doing infrequent dives into the mailbag just to keep current and unburden myself and my basement refrigerator of all these beers.

If you're a brewer who's sending samples and doesn't want any part of this, feel free to have your people cut me off. If this somehow inspires you to send more samples, please realize that I am only one man and that even with assistance it's kind of tough to get through all of the current offerings. With that in mind, let's get rolling:

Spring break

Just after we released our big spring beer list, our porch was inundated with box after box of seasonal and limited-release beers.

Even until roughly a month ago, we'd still been getting word of the occasional winter beer. The folks down at Coronado Brewing in Coronado, Calif., tapped us on the shoulder back in February and told us about their Jurata Baltic Porter collaboration with Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Fla. The malty 8% ABV was available here in Oregon in 750-milliliter wine-style bottles and had the potency you'd expect of an English beer style that got its name for having enough alcohol content to survive a voyage through the Baltic Sea -- hence "Jurata," the Polish word for sea. It was a winter warmer in every sense. While the beer geeks tell us it's no substitute for Cigar City's Hunaphu imperial stout, it made us even happier to skip the mess that was Hunaphu's Day in Tampa.

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