Whether you refer to it as fall or autumn or even harvest (if you’re like 107-years-old), my favorite time of year is upon us. Well, it’s 90° today, but it is still fall.
We went to Six Flags New England yesterday with throngs of others who thought it a good idea despite mid-summer heat, and I’m not ashamed to admit that Shipyard Pumpkinhead I had a pint of was on point!
My last post was all about hanging on to summer but that’s all but gone out the window since it’s officially fall. Leaves have begun falling and it’s officially time to begin my fall yard projects: a sitting area with a fire pit in the backyard and a sitting area, sans fire pit, in the front yard. Of the two, an aesthetically pleasing area in the backyard to drink our beers at night while the fire rages as the kids play on their playground is certainly at the forefront.
That said, let’s now focus on some fall-centric beers. Beers that are a bit darker (not emo dark) and a tad (or more) higher in ABV. Beers that warm your soul and take the edge off those chilly *insert where you’re from* nights. For me, it’s Connecticut, and the nights can get pretty chilly pretty quickly.
We’ve already established brown ales are among my favorites, and this is the time to showcase them. Porters and stouts also show up in droves this time of year, as do pumpkin ales – imperial or not. We see you, Southern Tier, with your Imperial Warlock, an imperial stout brewed with pumpkin and notes of pumpkin spice AND Pumking Imperial Ale, “bewitched and brewed with Pagan spirit,” both with an ABV of 8.6%. Don’t think I forget Dogfish Head‘s Punkin Ale, a brown ale brewed with pumpkin, brown sugar, and spice, clocking in at 7% ABV. Though I have’t had any of these to date, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility I get in on one to celebrate the completion of the fire pit!
Here’s my take on a few that I have had recently that happen to fall in the “Darker Beer” category.
DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus!
- Brewery Location: Bel Air, MD
- Style: Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter
- ABV: 6.2%
- Buffoon’s Review: “Exclaim the name” is exactly what the heck I did as I first sipped this jet black porter from some crappy (but clean) rocks glass – so sue me! It smelled like the name suggested it would, like peanut butter and chocolate! No bullshit, if you closed my eyes and covered my ears, I would’ve said you opened a jar of PB. The taste was subtly sweet with a little bitterness (from the chocolate?) in the aftertaste. Not as heavy as I’d imagined from a … PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE PORTER. Will this one find it’s way outside as I relax by the fire put this fall? You’re damn right it will! I mean unless you’ve got an aversion to peanut butter, maybe stay away, otherwise it’s at least worth a try. For me, this baby (Jesus) might be on heavy rotation.
Bell’s Best Brown
- Brewery Location: Comstock, MI
- Style: Brown Ale
- ABV: 5.8%
- Buffoon’s Review: I had this one on draft at a haunt I used to frequent when I lived in the Bronx except back then, Bell’s wasn’t on the tap list and craft beer was just ramping up. It’s my first experience with ANY Bell’s beer and despite getting the Amber Ale (which was fantastic albeit not what I wanted) the wait for the Best Brown was worth it. A deep-yet-almost-see through brown pour, Bell’s Brown was surprisingly on the light side, tasted caramel-y with maybe even a hint of chocolate. We had to go so I didn’t really have time to truly enjoy it (read: have another) but I guess the silver lining was I got to try two Bell’s instead of one. Sadly, this seasonal release isn’t likely to hit shelves around me so I’m left wanting another but unlikely to get one.
- Brewery Location: Portland, ME
- Style: Pumpkin Ale
- ABV: 4.5%
- Buffoon’s Review: I’ve said before that I have a soft spot for Pumpkinhead. It’s the first and only pumpkin ale I’ve had this year but it won’t be the last. To me, it just tastes like fall, which is no surprise since it served as my initiation into pumpkin beers years ago. You may not agree with me, but IDGAF. This beer hits the spot and will continue to do so. When company comes over, this one is stocked. When I’m out at the fire pit, this one will be in hand quite often. Until Halloween is over. Or maybe Thanksgiving. Stop judging.
What are your go-to beers of fall? Which styles are you reaching for at the package store or brewing yourself at home?
Peace, Love, and Beers!
You can also find Ryan enjoying his three boys and fatherhood on social media: