Although some of you may be looking at the glass half empty and sadly saying goodbye to the Shandy’s, Summer Ale’s, and “Island” beers… I see the glass half full and say “Hello Fall!” and welcome some of this upcoming seasons most delicious beers with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
If you are a new comer to the craft beer loving world, your world is about to be rocked. I’ve done some research on this seasons most desirable beers and here’s what made my top 10 list (in no particular order).
# 1. Southern Tier “PumKing” 8.6% ABV-Pumking is an ode to Púca, a creature of Celtic folklore, who is both feared and respected by those who believe in it. Púca is said to waylay travelers throughout the night, tossing them on its back, and providing them the ride of their lives, from which they return forever changed. Brewed in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, a time of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent. Don’t expect to try anything after this. In my opinion, this IS the King of Pumpkin Ale’s.
# 2. Weyerbacher “Imperial Pumpkin Ale” 8% ABV- It is heartier, spicier, and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren! They add lots of pumpkin along with cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of cardamom and clove giving this beer a spicy, full-bodied flavor. This truly is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale. If you aren’t a big fan of nutmeg this is a beer that uses this spice freely.
# 3. Dogfish Head “Punkin” 7% ABV- A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. They brew their Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar and spices. Did you know this brew got it’s name after an event thrown every year called “Punkin Chunkin”?
# 4. River Horse Brewing Co. “Hipp-O-Lantern” 8.5% ABV- I don’t usually mention packaging, but this beer has an awesome aesthetic. The 4-pack container features the headless horseman mounted atop…a hippo. The packaging also depicts a jack-o…well, a hippo-o-lantern.
This dark amber beer includes peppery fall scents like coriander and allspice giving it more of a spicy fall feeling than a dessert-like character. If you expect a sweet blast of pumpkin pie from your autumn ale, Hipp-O-Lantern is not going to meet your expectation. This recipe is about balance and seasonal aromas that mingle in a unique bouquet, with only a mild sweetness.
# 5. Williamsburg Alewerks “Pumpkin Ale” 8% ABV-(*my favorite*) Brewed with roasted pumpkin (how many breweries roast their pumpkins prior to brewing?) and spices, this particular example of the style leans more toward the dessert side of the spectrum. I prefer the less sweet and more earthy varieties of pumpkin ales, but every once in a while I still want to be reminded of warm pumpkin pie when drinking one of these beers. This brew fulfilled that need just fine. I LOVE IT!
# 6. Samuel Adams “Octoberfest” 5.3% ABV- This would be the traditional Octoberfest you expect. It pours dark and isn’t overwhelming with it’s heartier spices that make a smooth transition from summer to fall.
# 7. Sixpoint “Autumnation” 6.7% ABV- The odd one out, unique not only thanks to its use of this year’s pumpkin, but also just-harvested Citra hops. Using fresh hops is extremely rare in most of the beer world, especially for breweries outside the Pacific Northwest, where most hops are grown. The result is a very flavorful, fresh-tasting ale with much more hoppy flavor than others of this season. This is for sure the beer you want to grip onto the last days of summer as you make your smooth transition.
# 8. The Bruery “Autumn Maple” 10% ABV- Autumn Maple is a blend of yams, maple syrup, allspice, vanilla, molasses, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The robust flavors and warming of the high alcohol make it an excellent libation to appreciate on a cold autumn evening. This beer is perfect for anyone who relishes the sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, but with all of the spices in the mix, it smells and tastes like a pumpkin pie.
# 9. Victory “Moonglow Weizenbock” 8.7% ABV- “Moonglow” has a deep burgundy color and the opalescent haze of an unfiltered wheat beer. A riot of dessert-like aromas rise from the creamy froth, suggesting bananas foster, spice cake and crème brûlée. Richly sweet yet balanced on first sip, intense flavors of caramel malt and tropical fruit compote swirl and merge with spicy notes of clove and sarsaparilla. Who needs dessert when a decadent wheat beer like this will do?
# 10. Breckenridge “Vanilla Porter” 4.7% ABV- Ahhh, my first love. The one that changed the whole game for me. This Porter brings a magnificent vanilla aroma that hits your nose right away. With a caramel colored lace and light traces of bubbles, this is a great beer to sip on. Dessert beer for sure!
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