So it’s mid-August and we’re all still recovering from a series of crippling heat waves. Does that mean it’s too early to start drinking autumn beers? No way!
As a matter of fact, the fall beers are already dropping all over the place and I couldn’t be more excited.
Fall is, in my humble opinion, one of the best seasons for beer. Why? The combination of warm days and cool nights allow for the enjoyment of any style of beer and fall seasonals tend to be an eclectic mix of hoppy, malty, flavorful brews.
Of course at the top of everyone’s lists for Fall beers are the Octoberfests! So what’s an Octoberfest? It’s a Märzen Lager originating in Germany. As our good friends at Beer Advocate describe it: “Brewing [in Germany] ended with the coming of spring, and began again in the fall. Most were brewed in March (März). These brews were kept in cold storage [lagered] over the spring and summer months, or brewed at a higher gravity, so they’d keep. Märzenbier is full-bodied, rich, toasty, typically dark copper in color with a medium to high alcohol content.”
Sam Adams (MA) has already released their Octoberfest as well as Leinenkugel (WI) with many more on their way. Keep an eye out for Spaten and Paulaner’s Octoberfests. Both of these selections are imported from Munich (where Octoberfest originated) and offer an authentic taste of what a Märzen Lager should be.
Next up on the fall list for beer enthusiasts is pumpkin beers. This is a sensitive area, as beer purists would rather drink a V8 than a brew with fruits and veggies in it. That being said, I enjoy the occasional pumpkin beer—but it has to be done right. Shipyard (ME) Pumpkinhead has become the standard by which most others are measured (and yes, it’s already available.) However, more and more craft brewers are releasing comparable takes on this style. Southern Tier (NY) brews Pumpking, Dogfish Head (DE) offers Punkin Ale, Brooklyn Brewery (NY) makes a great Post Road Pumpkin Ale and Sam Adams (MA) has also released a Harvest Pumpkin Ale.
In addition to the Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales, many craft breweries will release a seasonal beer that is malty and meant to complement the season. Last year one of my favorite Fall seasonals turned out to be Sierra Nevada’s Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale. In Sierra Nevada’s own words: “Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale is our take on the classic brown ale, featuring roasted malt with full, complex toasted aromas and nutty flavor with the slightest hint of smoke.”
No article would be complete without a nod to what local breweries are cooking up for the upcoming Fall season. Last year Revival Brewing (PVD) entered the market with their Imperial Octoberfest Lager in 12 oz. 4-packs, hopefully they’ll be doing the same this year! Also keep an eye out for Autumn Winds, an Octoberfest-style Ale, from Grey Sail (Westerly). Narragansett will of course release their iconic Fest (a recipe developed by Sean Larkin of Revival Brewing & Trinity Brewhouse).
And last but definitely not least, Foolproof will be releasing their next specialty beer, a Double IPA named King of the Yahd (big brother to Foolproof’s year ‘round IPA, Backyahd). King of the Yahd will be released at Foolproof’s Augtoberfest, being held at their Pawtucket brewery Saturday, August 17. (Tickets and details are available at Eventbrite.com.)
All things considered, what I’ve written here is only the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to fall seasonal beers. And remember: A great beer not only tastes good, it feels good. Get out there this season and try some brews you’ve never tried before. Your taste buds will thank you for it.
Cheers to Fall Beers!
Brian “The Beer Guy” Buongiovanni oversees the craft beer selection at Brickyard Wine & Spirits in Barrington, where he also organizes the East Bay Homebrewers Club. He can be reached at the store at 401/289-2140 or via email at [email protected]