Seasonal Brewskies, or Why Fall Is Just As Fun Once You’re Over Twenty-One

17 Oct

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As I’ve said before, autumn might be my absolute favorite season of the year. Granted, I’m one of those “Half-Full” folks who can usually, unless under major duress (salute), find the upside to pretty much anything. (Cold, nasty, rainy day = excuse to cuddle with a cup of tea and a good book under a wool blanket? Yes please!) And that optimism does extend to the seasons. Winter? SNOW! Summer? No shoes, no problems. Spring? Flowers, flowers, everywhere. It’s all good.

But oh, fall — with your pumpkin-flavored goodies (like this, and these), your infusions of nutmeg and sage, and your crispy-cold mornings — you, sir, are my favorite. What better way to celebrate your arrival than with a tall, frothy glass of seasonal beer? Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you: The Best of Fall Seasonal Brews! (In my humble, semi-decently-informed opinion.)*

*NOTE: I might be biased, for a variety of reasons. But, in my defense, I drink a lot of beer. **

**In, you know, the highly respectable fashion that one would expect from a woman who educates the future of America.

Best Pumpkin Ale: Saranac Pumpkin Ale * Matt Brewing Company, Utica, NY

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Why? Its blend of allspice, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon is no stranger to any pumpkin brew, but Saranac’s grinning jack-o-lantern logo belies an intensely pumpkin-y, richly spiced ale. While I’m personally of the mindset that you really can’t go wrong with pumpkin beer (Um, pie and brewski combined? Yeah … stick a fork in me, baby.), Saranac’s version is downright divine.

Know what else is good? Blue Moon’s Pumpkin Ale, Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, and Punkin Ale from Dogfish Head.

Best “Bigtime Brew” Fall Beer: Samuel Adams Octoberfest * The Boston Beer Company, Boston, MA

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Why? While a lot of the nation’s mainstream breweries (And I do, at this point in its popularity, consider Sam Adams to be somewhat mainstream. It’s still good! Calm down, hipsters!) offer different seasonals, the Sam Adams Octoberfest is pheee-nomenal. I anxiously await this lovely Marzen’s arrival in the grocery store / liquor store / Trader Joe’s, and when it arrives, I hoard it like a feline hoards the ‘nip. Medium-dark, lively flavors, and that gorgeous amber color in my glass? Done and done.

Know what else is good? Sam Adams Hazel Brown (Mmmmm).

Best “Lesser-Known” Fall Brew: Shiner Oktoberfest * Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX

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Why? Welp, I did live in Texas. Aside from that, however, is the sheer tastiness of Shiner’s Oktoberfest. While this Lone Star State brand is most famous for its classic Bock (and the feisty ram on its label), the Oktoberfest is, I think, the brewery at its best: simple and complex, flavorful and mighty fine. This Marzen / Oktoberfest-style brew is my favorite addition to any fall party’s beer cooler.

Know what else is good? Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale by Sierra Nevada, Red Hoptober Ale by New Belgium, Breckenridge Brewery Autumn Ale (slightly Marzen and stout-esque)

Best DMV-Area Fall Beer: Dogtoberfest * Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, MD

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Why? While Flying Dog has a slew of great choices with dog-punny names (Yes, “Doggie Style” and “In-Heat” are both actual beverages), the Dogtoberfest is a solid fall beer with a clear amber hue. It’s perfect for a mid-afternoon bar outing in October in the District; refreshing and homey in the way that only fall beers can be.
Know what else is good? Boxcar Pumpkin Stout by Starr Hill, Heavy Seas Marzen by Heavy Seas.
Weirdest Fall Beer: Sam Adams Bonfire Rauchbier * Boston Brewery, Boston MA

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Why? It tastes like you left it, abandoned, by a campfire. Then remembered it was there, mixed in some ashes, and continued drinking. Don’t really know what else to say, other than … ew. Sorry, Sam, you know I love ya.
Know what else is good? Um, pretty much anything.
What are your favorite fall beers? What other categories would you add, and how would you fill them? What are your local fall brews?

6 Responses to “Seasonal Brewskies, or Why Fall Is Just As Fun Once You’re Over Twenty-One”

  1. TL October 17, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    yum yum! They had the Sam Adams Oktoberfest at the Oktoberfest event in Campbell that I went to over the weekend.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • galleykitchengal October 18, 2012 at 8:11 am #

      Of course! How delicious is that beer? I was just checking out your post — looks like your Oktoberfest was a total blast. (That parrot?? WOW!) I went to a DC-area Oktoberfest a few weeks ago, but unfortunately, it was totally parrot-free. Lamesauce. 🙂

      • TL October 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

        So delicious. I had some cider too – it was great. Ya! I actually think the Parrot man was a random guy who just decided to bring his birds to Oktoberfest. 🙂 You should definitely try to make it out to the Bay Area for October next year!

      • galleykitchengal October 19, 2012 at 9:25 am #

        I’d love to hit up San Fran at some point! It looks amaaazingly beautiful. What are some of your favorite food-spots there?

  2. Marissa October 23, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    I remember trying that Campfire one as part of a variety 12pack when you came over to watch an ND game! Kind of super gross..! Have very much enjoyed dogfish’s punkin (though it’s not very good from the bottle?), and I’m sure the HT appreciates the upstate NY shoutout with Saranac. Let’s eat and drink together soon!

    • galleykitchengal October 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

      Ooh, yes please! And indeed he did, haha — we tried it at an Oktoberfest shindig here in DC, weirdly enough, but promptly bought a six-pack. (or two … )

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