Happy Halloween! Fall is a great time of year—for beer drinkers, it keeps getting better. In the recent past, the fall beer season was relegated to a very short window. With more breweries releasing fresh hop beers, the autumn beer season seemed to start a few weeks early this year. That's fine by me!
Here's a roundup of some fall beers I've enjoyed during the past month or so. This is by no means a "best of fall" beer list, but it demonstrates the diversity of beers made for autumn—Oktoberfests, fresh hops ales, pumpkin brews, among others. Let's get started!
Bamberg, Germany for a different take on the Oktoberfest style. It uses the rare Record German hop varietal. Very crisp with toasted malt and spicy hops. It had a pleasant mild sweetness in the finish. Served in a Spieglau Classic Tulip glass.
Tuberfest, Lagunitas Brewing: Many potatoes were harmed during the making of this beer! Yes, spuds were used! It has a gorgeous amber color with lots of sticky lacing. Loads of piny and spicy hop flavors are layered on top of a hefty carmelized malt backbone. It's 7.5% in ABV, but tasted even boozier than its ABV rating, which was a turn-off for me. Served in a Birrateque IPA glass.
8 Pound Pale, Full Sail Brewing: This is Full Sail's first release of a fresh hop ale in the 12 oz. bottle format. The brewery packed 8 pounds of fresh (or wet) Magnum hops into each barrel. Grapefruit, pine, and juicy orange ooze from the aroma! I hope Full Sail brings this back next year and showcases a different hop varietal!* Served in a Spieglau IPA glass.
Hop Harvest Red IPA, BridgePort Brewing: 250 pounds of Amarillo hops were added to the fermenter just hours after they were harvested only 30 miles away at Crosby Hop Farm. Pine and grapefruit hop aromas and flavors meld with a caramel malt backbone and contribute to a resiny mouthfeel.* Served in a Spieglau IPA glass.
Field To Ferment Fresh Hop Pale Ale, Freemont Brewing : By the luck of the draw, I tasted batch 40 which was made with Simcoe. Different batches were made that showcased either Centennial, Citra, Mosaic, or Simcoe. Juicy citrus and pine exploded in aroma! The bright aroma in this beer was heads and shoulders above the other fresh hop ales I tasted—and my favorite of the three! Next year, I'll try to track down all four of the hop varieties. Served in a Birrateque IPA glass.
Black O' Lantern, Wasatch Brewing: Subtle pumpkin spice in an easy drinking light-bodied stout. I personally think pumpkin spice works better in darker beers. But that's just me. Served in a Spieglau Stout glass.
Funky Pumpkin, Boulevard Brewing: Pumpkin doesn't have much flavor, and I can't taste it here. But the pumpkin spice blend comes through and pairs beautifully with the tartness which is the result of kettle souring. Probably the most pleasant surprise of the bunch! Served in a Birrateque Tester glass.
Chai High, Avery Brewing: A brown ale with chai spice is a combination that works well. Working with spice in beer is challenging, a bit too much and it becomes overwhelming. It is in the case of this beer. I also think a bit of sweetness in the finish would have been a nice touch and could have helped to offset the spice. Served in a Spieglau Classic Tulip glass.
Best Brown Ale, Bell's Brewery: This is a straight-up version of the style, with no special ingredients. It has notes of coffee, roast, and chocolate. Simple and delicious. Brown Ales are underrated! Served in a Birrateque Cider glass. Yeah, I know it's not a cider, but it's a cool glass!
Black Widow Porter, McMenamins Brewing: First brewed 25 years ago, this is one of my fall favorites! Full of espresso, chocolate, licorice, and a touch of roast. The porter style is a the perfect canvas for these flavors.* Served in a Birrateque Stout glass.
So as you can see, there are no tricks here—just treats! While fall will be with us for a few more weeks, winter beers are starting to descend on store shelves. So be sure to find and enjoy a few more fall beers before the seasons change!