The seasons have begun their change from crisp fall to bitter winter. While winter has not engulfed us yet the temperatures are certainly beginning a slow descent. What does this mean for our pallets? A change in drinking habits of course!
Not everyone follows the pattern of the season in a pint glass, but it is a fun way to track the year and constantly enjoy new beers. Many will argue that any beer can be enjoyed any time of the year but it is great to enjoy certain styles during specific seasons.
The late fall season is a great time to enjoy beers that are a hybrid between different styles. This opens up possibilities for beers with lighter flavors but with a deeper heft perfect for colder months. Here is a short list of beers to try during this transitional time of year.
Southern Tier Brewing’s Cold Pressed Coffee Pumking: You may be sick of pumpkin beers by now, however, Southern Tier has really done something special with its much beloved Pumking. The brewery decided to infuse fresh, cold-pressed coffee into its pumpkin spice beer and the results are fantastic. This is a smooth ale with fresh coffee notes present throughout that neither dominate nor subdue the pumpkin spice flavors. Instead, the two combine for a distinct but incredibly refreshing taste that is a must try during the fall season. This is a perfect dessert beer for any Thanksgiving day celebrations.
Lagunitas Brewing’s NightTime: Black IPA, American Black Ale, Cascadian Dark Ale — whatever you want to call it the results are similar. This is a beer with a dark malt profile with a dosing of hops on par with many popular IPAs. NightTime is certainly one of the best in this category. The risk with this beer style is that many popular hops found in IPAs can, at times, clash with darker malts resulting in an astringent flavor that is not pleasing. This Black IPA is the perfect blend of hops emanating citrus and floral notes with textbook roasted malt character. The 8 percent ABV is completely hidden making this beer surprisingly sessionable.
Champion Brewing’s Black Me Stout: This collaboration stout between Champion Brewing and rock band Against Me! is intended to be a more sessionable Russian imperial stout. While many Russian imperial stouts clock in at around 10 percent ABV and above Black Me Stout is 6 percent ABV. The addition of wheat and chocolate malt enhance the body and flavor depth to create a more rounded beer that comes across as being much higher in ABV. The flavors of coffee and bitter dark chocolate are present but they do not tip the scales too far in either direction.
Kane Brewing Company’s Malus: This is the hardest to find beer on this list, but it is a must to include. Ocean, N.J.’s Kane Brewing Company has released some of America’s best beers in recent years and Malus is included on that list. This 9.5 percent ABV Belgian dark strong ale is enhanced by the addition of locally produced apple cider and spices. Notes of cinnamon, fresh apples, ginger, brown sugar and Belgian yeast all play wonderfully together to create a beer that is unique and enjoyable during the fall.
No matter what your taste there is a beer on this list for you to try. This is also a wonderful time to sample many great craft beers as breweries are producing a lot of seasonal beers between fall and winter. Get out there and try as many as possible and but just remember to enjoy them first and judge them second!
Derek Warren is a beer fanatic, avid homebrewer and beer historian. Derek can be heard weekly on the Beer Geeks Radio Hour at noon on Sundays on WILK 103.1 FM with past episodes available on iTunes.