Fall is undoubtedly my favorite season-the weather gets cooler, comfort food becomes just a bit more comforting, and fall beer starts popping up in our kegs and on our shelves. It’s a glorious day. Why is this? Well, I would argue that fall flavors take the cake when it comes to just about everything, and beer is certainly included alongside our delicious pumpkin lattes. Here is a short list of my personal favorite beers that come about in the fall. It’s a tough call to make, rummaging through delightful and sweetly-flavored brown ales and chocolaty stouts and porters. But here it is (in no particular order):
1. Rogue Hazelnut Brown Ale: I admit, I drink this delicious Rogue specialty year round-because it’s amazing. As a dark beer lover, I find this a great mid-way between the crisp ales of the warmer months and the warm stouts and porters of the colder months. The flavor is fantastic-sweet, but balanced and absolutely drinkable. This would certainly be one of my top picks for fall (Rogue pretty much takes the lead in all my opinions, however).
2. Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale: When it comes to fall, it doesn’t get much better than pumpkin. There are hundreds of pumpkin ales that come out in these months, and I’ve tasted a good deal of them. Buffalo Bill’s Brewery, however, does it better than most. The flavor is strong enough to warrant pumpkin and not just “pumpkin spice.” It’s not terribly heavy, yet not too heavily carbonated. Definitely a winner in my book.
3. Leinenkugels’s Fireside Nut Brown Ale: I anticipate the release of this Leinenkugel’s brew every fall, and though it doesn’t emerge until November (deeming it more appropriate as a “Winter Beer”), it’s so good I’ll include it. You may see a pattern, as it is another sweeter brown ale. It’s got warm flavor, but isn’t overly heavy. Flavors are not overpowering, and it’s just a good beer. Period. A good beer.
4. Great Lake‘s Oktoberfest: I will admit that I’ve never really been a fan of Oktoberfest beer. When it comes to the fall, I stick to the sweeter stuff (because I don’t look as strange drinking a stout in October as I do in May). However, after having a taste of this, I was pretty much caught. I do in fact love Oktoberfest beers, or at least this Great Lakes variety. It’s spicy and perfect for the weather, and definitely provides a kick.
5. Breckenridge Vanilla Java Porter: As mentioned previously, I love the fall because it allows me to shamelessly drink stouts and porters. One of my favorites would have to be the Vanilla Java Porter put out by Breckenridge. It’s sweet, for sure, and mildly heavy (I mean, it is a porter). It’s creamy and flavorful, but the flavor in my opinion is not so overpowering. Now I just have to try their Autumn Ale. Too bad Ohio is so far from Colorado…
6. Stone Smoked Porter: I’m convinced that anything put out by Stone Brewing Company is going to be a hit. Though I love Arrogant Bastard, and of course it is both available and enjoyed all year round, I certainly prefer the dark and aromatic Smoked Porter. As a lover of porters, I hold a love affair with this a bit raunchy and bitter. This porter isn’t as sweet as those I generally go for. It is rather like that jerk of a guy your mom would hate: incredibly attractive, sarcastic, and will certainly leave you on your butt.
7. Sierra Nevada Tumbler Brown Ale: Because of my distaste for IPA’s (yes, I know, blasphemy right?), I tend to stay away from Sierra Nevada. However, I ran across this gem at my local grocery store and decided to give it a try. Total success. Still a fall crispness, but incorporates a lot of flavor, and of course is a bit on the sweet side.
8. Warsteiner Dunkel: Like Oktoberfest beers, I tend to stay away from the German variety (other than Witbiers, of course)-too much of that Heineken skunkiness gets in the way of me enjoying my beer. The Warsteiner Dunkel, however, is something more than palatable to my tastes. A dark pilsner, the Dunkel is a bit sweeter and is pretty fantastic with a Ruben. The Verum isn’t so bad, either.
9. Abita Turbodog: I generally like anything put out by Abita Beer, but Turbodog is likely my favorite. It’s a dark brown ale that packs a lot of flavor, and a lot of bite. It’s got a crispness that I really enjoy, but doesn’t come off as acidic. There’s also a bit of spiciness that offsets the sweet undertones. Love it.
10. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale: Though again, I don’t like IPA’s, I still recognize Dogfish Head as a Class-A brewery, and enjoy many of their seasonals (the Festina Peche was fantastic). Their Punkin Ale comes at no surprise, then, and will reign supreme of pumpkin ales for years to come, I’m sure (sorry Buffalo Bill). Certainly suggest you seek it out and try it!
Enjoy the fall, my friends! Cheers!