Autumn Alternative: Beyond Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Beers
Call them the Autumn alternatives: lagers and ales that don’t look towards Bavarian celebrations for inspiration and run away from pumpkin and spice. Modern beer is all about choice and diversity but in the final months of the year—starting in summer for some—drinkers are hard pressed to find fall seasonal offerings that don’t contain orange gourd or come in liter steins.
A growing number of brewers around the country are noticing this and are working flavors of a different sort into their rotation, offering diversity to those who seek it. Many of these beers also skirt the seasonal creep and don’t actually arrive on taps and shelves until the air has turned crisp and the season
These are uncommon seasonal offerings that try to tell a story through their ingredients or styles. Most play off their regions, but also give a nod to the harvest and the weather patterns. Here are a few fall beers breaking the mold.
Saint Somewhere Cynthiana Saison, 6.5%
Located in Tarpon Springs, FL, Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. is a Belgian-style brewery, where owner Bob Sylvester brews and bottles his ales. On brewing Cynthiana, his fall seasonal, Bob takes the saison out of the summer by using locally-grown ingredients.
“I loved the romance and the history of the grape variety, and the deeper flavor it gave to our Saison. Being grown in Florida helped sell me on the grape.”
The beer pours amber, with aromas of stone fruit and dry grape. Subtle sweetness, medium-bodied ale with crisp citrus flavors that roll along the tongue, finishes dry yet fruity with a yeasty funk.
Harpoon Grateful Harvest Cranberry Ale, 5.9%
Harpoon Brewery, located on the Boston waterfront, has been brewing traditional style beers since 1986. Brewed with local cranberries harvested from the A.D. Makepeace bog, a 40-minute drive from the brewery, proceeds from this ale are donated to the local food banks around the area. “Beers like Grateful Harvest help build a connection to our area and community, and represent who we are as a brewery” says Liz Melby, Director of Communications for Harpoon Brewery.
This beer pours deep reddish amber, with tart notes of cranberry and sweet malts in the aroma. Fuller body with a fruity sweetness followed by a rich malt character.
Urban Chestnut Pilgrim 7, 4.5%
Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. of St. Louis celebrates both old world and new world styles. Pilgrim 7 is a perfect example of this. A British-style pale ale brewed to celebrate the harvest and the “reaping,” it combines seven grains, some locally sourced, which helps create a huskier version of its English predecessor.
Part of the brewery’s revolution beer series, this medium-bodied beer pours amber in color with bright resinous hop character and grainy malt aromas, followed by a fuller malt flavor with a slight dank hop bitterness that finish smooth and well balanced.
Founders Brewing Breakfast Stout, 8.3%
Founders Brewing Co. is known for highly sought after Breakfast Stout, made to celebrate the beginning of “Stout Season”—the “beer drinking time of the year.”
This full-body stout pours dark with aromas of bitter chocolate and roasted coffee, huge flavors of chocolate, cold brew coffee and toffee dance around the tongue, finishing with intriguing dark robust flavors.