Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer, right? The kids are back to school. Acorns are prematurely falling off the oak trees like hail from the heavens. It’s also time for a myriad of fall beers to get released – Oktoberfest, dunkelweizen, brown ales, and many others. Then there’s the much-maligned, oft-ridiculed pumpkin beer.
At work the other day I was checking out the new beers that came in, as one does, and noticed a smaller-than-usual presence of pumpkin beers. I asked my coworker, who is also a beer distributor, why? It’s just been so overdone in past few years that most people are done with it. I’ll venture a guess and say that I tried roughly 20+ pumpkin beers a few years back. I went way off the deep end – Sam Adams, Shipyard, Dogfish Head, Southern Tier, not to mention practically every Connecticut brewery’s offering.
Shipyard Pumpkinhead is a staple in our fridge once the leaves start changing and who am I kidding? I’ll try a few new ones I haven’t had but you ain’t gonna find me snatching up 6-packs of every pumpkin beer out there. Judge me all you want, it’s not like every one of you have abstained from drinking them.
If you read my previous post, I’m not opposed to a full-bodied brown ale whenever the feeling hits but fall in New England seems the perfect time to enjoy some darker beers, and you certainly won’t have to twist my arm.
Oh, hey there Oktoberfest/Märzen-style lagers, pleasure seeing you again, my full-bodied and smooth friend. And of course, I’m referencing American versions of these beers. You honestly think this doofus has experienced a true Oktoberfest?
I’ve only had one Oktoberfest thus far – by Thomas Hooker – and it’s great. Sierra Nevada, Two Roads Brewing, Samuel Adams – these are all breweries whose Oktoberfest I will have.
So to recap, Oktoberfest, dunkelweizen, brown ale > pumpkin beer; sorry gourd lovers, whom I know are out there despite your clandestine ways.
Time for some reviews!
Nebraska Brewing Company Brunette Nut Brown
- Brewery Location: Papillion, NE
- Style: English-style Brown Ale
- ABV: 4.7%
- Buffoon’s Review: While comparing it to my favorite beer would be an injustice, this sucker is pretty damn delicious. You get serious hints of coffee and/or caramel flavor as soon as you taste this one. The nuttiness of this beer is definitely there and seemed a little roasty (is this a thing?). It’s definitely a perfect beer for those crisp New England nights around the fire pit. Overall, it was a bit sweeter than I anticipated but definitely one I’d drink again…and again.
Bad Martha Brewing Wicked Coffee Porter
- Brewery Location: Dorchester, MA
- Style: Porter
- ABV: 5.2%
- Buffoon’s Review: Fitting that I’m reviewing a porter, or should I say paw-tah! While I prefer a lighter blend for my coffee, this porter was robust and very enjoyable. There’s plenty of coffee flavor (with locally roasted coffee beans) to go with a super smooth finish. I can only drink one a sitting, these were from the bottle poured into a pint glass, but it’s while playing Go Fish! with my six-year-old son.
Thomas Hooker Brewing Oktoberfest
- Brewery Location: Bloomfield, CT
- Style: Oktoberfest
- ABV: 6.2%
- Buffoon’s Review: I had to include this one, right? One of the best Oktoberfests out there, according to Men’s Journal, it’s brewed the traditional way – in March (Märzenbier) while then being left to age during the summer months. It’s a filling beer with an ABV that’ll sneak up on you, but the smooth smooth, caramelly finish. The distribution is probably regionalized to here in New England, but it’s all about who you know.
OK, that’s it for me. I have to whip up some lunch before prepping dinner while it’s quiet in the house. What are you sipping on once those crisp fall temperatures hit, if they hit?
Peace, Love, and Beers!
You can also find Ryan enjoying fatherhood on social media: