Nope. It. Is. Not. Happening. Some of us, and I won’t name names, but some of us refuse to believe Summer is coming to an end and the days of sipping on Blonde Ales at the beach or relaxing with a nice, refreshing Kölsch may soon be over.
But, on the other hand, there are some of us who are rejoicing in the changing weather, colorful leaves and commencement of pumpkin-spice everything. But don’t worry! For those of you who choose to stay far, far away from the pumpkin craze, there are plenty of other must-try seasonal beers for this Fall ranging from medium, medium-dark to dark in color.
(Pro Tip: Looks can be deceiving, some darker brews may have a lighter body, such as Schwarzbier which is almost opaque in appearance but typically has lighter, and more refreshing qualities.)
The transition from warm nights into chilly days could be eased by the excitement and anticipation of the German Oktoberfest celebration, giving us all a valid excuse to dress in lederhosen or Bavarian Dirndl dresses. Not to mention drink our fair share of German beer. These festive Märzen / Oktoberfest brews are golden to dark-copper in color, full-bodied, rich, malty with slightly toasty elements — a perfect fit for a brisk Fall day and a welcomed change from the lighter Summer ales. A few other suggested brew styles of this caliber include Amber Lagers/Ales, Bitters, Irish Red Ales, English IPA’s, and Vienna Lagers. Beers such as Saisons, Bière de Gardes, and Doppelbocks can also be great choices. Not sure what to drink them with? Check out these paired recipes:
• Savory Garlic Marinated Steaks
• Pad Thai with Chicken and Shrimp
The count down is on! To Thanksgiving that is, and you start pulling out the heartier stews and casserole recipes, you may be thinking the whole ‘Fall’ situation may not be that bad after all. A dark to medium-full bodied Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy is beginning to sound oh-so good. The craft beers we’ve put in this ‘Medium-Dark” range are darker than the “Medium” styles but not as dark as a Stout or a Porter. These puppies tend to be stronger and heavier in alcohol which means they can definitely hold their own when paired with the sizable, robust meals to come this season. Although they vary by style of beer, you can typically find that these have a nice copper color with roasted caramel notes in the nose and palate. Additional medium-dark beers such as Munich Dunkels, Brown Ales and Dark Lager styles may overpower lighter dishes such as fish but I’ll let you in on a little secret: what you decide to pair with your craft beers is entirely up to you! But if you're the type who can’t make decisions, we’ve recommended a few recipes just in case.
• Bacon & Jack Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños
• Baby Back Ribs
Onward and upward! Now we’re getting into some uncharted territory for some, or perhaps you may find these next few styles a walk in the park. Either way, there’s always room to try something new, right? Richer, maltier, darker, and oftentimes more complex, brew styles like Schwarzbiers, Baltic Porters, Oatmeal Stouts, or even an Eisbock would suit a number of situations this Fall. Eisbock brews are ones you may not see very often but they certainly pack a punch. With an ABV between 9-15% you’ll be feeling good in no time! These brews get their high alcohol content due to a method of lowing the temperature of the brewing beer to 32°F (water’s freezing point) and taking the formed ice out, resulting in a finished beer with a higher alcohol content. Now, if you’re still saying these aren't dark enough, go ahead and pick up a Foreign Extra Stout, American Porter, or a Black IPA. Try one of these recipes the next time you pop open one of these brew styles:
• Loaded Baked Potato Mac & Cheese
• Decadent Chocolate Stout Cake
Of course, I have to mention it…the Pumpkin Ale! There are a few ways to make these versatile brews, either by throwing in actual pieces or puree of pumpkin while brewing the beer, or by adding artificial flavors. Magnifying the pumpkin pie effect, Fall-inspired spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger are also commonly incorporated. Pumpkin Ales can range from light-medium bodied with little hoppiness but can contain a roasted, malty flavor followed by a slightly viscid mouthfeel. Haven’t convinced you yet on the flavored brews, or ones specifically related pumpkin? Don’t ride them off too fast! These beers vary greatly from brewery to brewery and you may just surprise yourself with one you like. These beers can be enjoyed with a number of recipes, test out a few Pumpkin Ales with these Fall recipes:
• Maple Roasted Root Vegetables and Squash
• Spiced Ginger Cookies
While Harvest Ales aren’t a legitimate brew style, these beers are something to behold. Fall is harvesting season for hops (and barley) which means they are as fresh as fresh can be! If a brewery has access to the fresh “wet hops”, as they’re referred to, a special Harvest Ale is sure to be in the works. Adding wet hops results in a bright flavor and aroma packed with earthy and fruity characteristics. Some brewmasters even believe that using wet hops allows the truest or purest extraction of the hop qualities to be reflected in the finished brew. The two recipes below would be a perfect pairing with these Harvest Ales.
• Ski Bum Steamed Mussels
• Tomato Coconut Curry Soup
The aforementioned craft beer styles are just some of the Fall-inspired brews we can expect to see on the shelves in the next few months but there are many other notable brews out there calling your name. Can you hear them?…Yep, I hear them too. The best rule to follow for Fall beers is: don’t be shy! Try a few craft beers of each style because each brewery has their own unique method and flair which is reflected in their finished brews. Who knows, you may surprise yourself.
Now, reading and talking about craft beers and Fall-inspired recipes has us thirsty and in need of a cold one. And you’re welcome, we’ve just made your Fall so much better already. Cheers!