Posts Tagged ‘autumn’

Five Alternative Autumn Brews

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

autumn beer

We’ve already taken a look at a few of the most well known beers of the fall season, such as pumpkin ales and the Oktoberfest style. They’re plenty of lesser known styles of beer that go great with the autumn also. Today we’re going to take a look at few of them.

Schwartzbier – German for “black beer,” this style of dark lager is surprisingly light given its name. Dark grains are used for color, but not enough to impart any of the roasted qualities of a porter or stout. Instead this style gets its bitterness from German hops. Overall it makes for light but full-bodied taste that’s a bit creamy. Sam Adams’ Black Lager is probably the most well known version in America, but Köstritzer Schwarzbier and Saranac Black Forest are also worth checking out.

Biere de Garde – This obscure style is one of the few types of beer native to France. The name loosely translates to “beer for keeping” which is indicative of the style’s high alcohol strength, which was designed to help the beer age well over the hot summer months when it’s too hot for brewing. Unlike other high alcohol brews, biere de garde is usually well balanced in flavor and moderate in body, with light buttery elements to it. All of this makes Biere De Garde a great beer for big starchy meals like Thanksgiving. Brasserie De Saint-Sylvestre’s probably the most notable produces of this style with their 3 Monts beer, but be sure to try Avant Garde from the Lost Abbey, Biere de Mars from Brewewy Ommegang (not to be confused with New Belgium’s Biere de Mars) and Oro De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Brewing.

Dobblebock – These heavy lagers were first brewed by fasting German monks to give them sustenance while abstaining from food. They are nutty and sweet in flavor with a medium body. Sam Adams Winter Lager is a great example of the style by an American craft brewer. Ayinger Celebrator, Paulaner Salvator and Spaten Optimator are three more traditional German versions worth a try.

Dunkelweizen – A dark (‘dunkel’ meaning ‘dark’ in German) version of the well known Hefeweizen style of German wheat beer, this style combines the banana and clove qualities of a hefe with dark grains to make a refreshing yet full bodied beer that some compare to banana bread. For a good example of this style try Weihenstephaner’s dunkelweizen. Franziskaner and Erdinger also make excellent traditional versions of the style.

Weizenbock – An even darker version of Dunkelweizen, which combines the dark roasted qualities of a porter or stout and matches them with the effervescent and fruity qualities of a hefeweizen. Try Aventinus from Schneider to taste a classic version of the style. Moonglow from Victory is a great American take on the style.

What’s your favorite autumn beer?  Let us know next time you have it by tweeting your beer and adding the ‘#mybeer’ hashtag.

Pumpkin Ale Flights Soar At Sunset

Thursday, October 8th, 2009


As we discussed recently, pumpkin beer is by far one of the most popular beers of the fall. Each autumn countless brewers from the smallest craft brewer to the big guys over at Anheuser-Busch release their own take on this seasonal style. With so many different pumpkin beers out there to choose from the task of which one to have next time you’re at your local pub can be a bit daunting. In order to find your favorite pumpkin beer you certainly could simply try a full pint of each brewery’s version of pumpkin beer. With so many out there though that process could take you right through the fall and into winter and spring. A more manageable approach to becoming familiar with a style might be to try a flight.

A flight is several smaller portions of a beer served at the same time, typically four or five glasses containing 4 or 5 ounces each. It’s a great way to try several beers at once without investing a whole night’s worth of drinking, or the money associated with it.

Although still fairly uncommon, many beer bars will offer flights of their draft offerings in any combination of your choosing. One such place here in Boston is Sunset Bar & Grill, where Team Beeriety recently ventured to try some of this year’s pumpkin’s ales. This style typically fall into two schools: beers which taste like actual pumpkins, and beers which taste like pumpkin pie. Although beer which replicates the taste of real pumpkins is generally more difficult and sometimes more respected by beer snobs out there, both types can be wonderful and a great way to celebrate the fall.

pumpkin flight

Our flights consisted of four beers:

1. Clipper City The Great Pumpkin - At 8.5% Alc./volume this one packs a punch, but with its balanced flavors you’d never notice how strong it is.

2. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin - Another great brew with subtle notes of nutmeg mixed with roasted pumpkin

3. Dogfish Head Punkin – This fantastic brew takes it’s name not from punk rock but an annual pumpkin shooting contest in southern Delaware

4. Wolavers Organic Pumpkin - While this one was a bit sweet, we applaud the effort to make it organic which is tough for many brewers.

They were all great, but the two that we liked the best were Clipper City and Dogfish Head with Weyerbacher coming in a close third. These beers fell into the first school of beer which tastes like actual pumpkins.  They each had a crisp, mild sweetness combined with strong pumpkin flavors that gave the beer a clean, roasted quality, which is what we like in a pumpkin beer. We all agreed that Wolavers Oragnic Pumpkin was the least favorite of the batch. Even though it was more of a pumpkin pie beer than a pumpkin beer it was still way too sweet with not nearly enough pumpkin flavor to it. All and all though it was a great way to get a taste of the season and discuss our favorite beers.

Have you ever tried a flight of beer? What’s your favorite pumpkin beer? Next time you have one let us know by tweeting your beer and adding the ‘#mybeer’ hashtag.

Style Profile: Pumpkin Ale

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

pumpkinWith the fall quickly approaching it’s time to begin looking at the beers of autumn. September is traditionally harvest time, in which the fruits and vegetables of the summer are collected and there’s plenty of good food and good cheer to go around. The root vegetables gathered this time of year frequently make for great beers; the most well known of these is of course the pumpkin beer.

Although pumpkin beer as we know it got its start by American craft brewers during the 1990’s people have been brewing beer with pumpkins for ages. The pilgrims were even known to brew pumpkin ale when they arrived on Plymouth Rock, because they was a lack of other fermentables like barley available. While pumpkin beer is associated with the autumn these days, because pumpkins weren’t typically available to brewers in colonial times until harvest, pumpkin beer couldn’t be enjoyed until the winter months.

Today modern pumpkin ales typically fall into two schools: beers which taste like actual pumpkins, and beers which taste like pumpkin pie. Although beer which replicates the taste of real pumpkins is generally more difficult and sometimes more respected by beer snobs out there, both types can be wonderful and a great way to celebrate the fall. Brewers striving for the first type will use a variety of methods to create their brew, sometimes using canned pumpkin filling while others will use actual roasted pumpkins for a more authentic taste. Brewers hoping to replicate Grandma’s pumpkin pie on the other hand will typically use pumpkin filling with a variety of associated spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; some lazier brewers will sometimes even just use the spices and leave out the pumpkin all together.

There are countless brewers who craft a mean pumpkin beer. Some favorites of Team Beeriety include are the pumpkin beers of  Smuttynose, Dogfish Head, Post-Road and Shipyard. What are some of yours? Next time you enjoy a pumpkin ale let us know what you think about it by tweeting your beer and adding the ‘#mybeer’ hashtag.

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