It’s just barely spring, and already we are looking forward to summer.

Geary’s Summer Ale is about to hit the stores in a fresh new packaging designed by Morgan DiPietro, a student at Maine College of Art.

DiPietro is glad she won — not only for the $5,000 prize for the design contest, but so she can drink Geary’s again this summer.

“A friend, another student at MECA, and I entered last year, and we didn’t win,” DiPietro said. “And another friend said that she wasn’t going to drink Geary’s that summer in honor of me, and that I could win it this year.”

Partway through the summer, she tried to talk them out of it.

“That is the part that killed us,” she said. “Geary’s is our beer of choice every summer.”

Geary’s Summer Ale is a German-style kolsch, an ale that is conditioned in cool temperatures like a lager. It has a pleasant and not overpowering hoppiness, and a bit of sweetness at the front.

DiPietro’s design features a bright orange box covered in words associated with summer.

“I didn’t want to do a typical Maine scene or setting or lighthouse or one iconic image,” DiPietro said. “I wanted to touch what summer was all about, and went back to listing the things I like about summer, and decided to put them on the box in a graphic design instead of an image.”

She said she and her friends are planning to use the box as a checklist for things to do this year.

DiPietro attended Bentley University on a basketball scholarship. After earning her degree in business communications, she worked with the AmeriCorps VISTA in Rhode Island. Since returning to Maine to attend MECA, she has interned with designer Angela Adams and at Portland Color.

David Geary, owner and founder of Geary’s, said this is the 13th year he has conducted a contest at MECA to pick a design.

GEARY’S ISN’T the only local brewery looking forward to an early summer. Shipyard is holding the release party for Shipyard Summer from 5 to 8 p.m. March 31 at Three Dollar Dewey’s, 241 Commercial St., Portland, with $2.75 pints. The Shipyard Summer is an American wheat beer at 4.8 percent alcohol. It’s a crisp beer with a floral hops.

TASTINGS

With it being deck weather, we tasted a couple of beers over the weekend.

I had my first taste of Allagash Odyssey, an oak-barrel-aged wheat beer coming in at 10 percent alcohol. It was rich, dark and heavily textured, but I didn’t taste the oak as much as I had expected. It was a complex, almost wine-like beer, and it went great with lamb burgers.

I also tried the Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA. It was a good, hoppy IPA with a bit of sweetness up front, but nothing seemed to separate it from the pack of IPAs.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at:

[email protected]herald.com