Top 10 fall beers

Published October 14, 2013

| Gayot

Top 10 fall beers

Top 10 fall beers

Spanning a wide range from American craft brews to classic European offerings, most of these brews are only available for a limited time, so drink up while you can.

Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Uinta Brewing Company
Salt Lake City, Utah
Pumpkin Ale
10.31 percent ABV

Price: $16 for 750 ml.

First produced in 2011 as part of Uinta's Crooked Line series, this seasonal beer is a jacked-up version of a pumpkin spice ale brewed with fresh pumpkin and fall spices and aged in oak for six months. The brewery hails from Salt Lake City, Utah, and the 10.31 percent ABV is a play on the date of Halloween. So much for the myth that Utah beers are wimpy! An inviting pumpkin spice aroma includes scents of caramel, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, brown sugar and vanilla. This beer packs a punch of flavor; pumpkin spices are married with the subtle nuances of vanilla and Bourbon notes, compliments of its barrel aging. The complexity of tastes balances well with malty sweetness, without being cloying in the finish. The label depicting a jack-o'-lantern ominously pointing to an oak barrel is literally a work of art, designed by Salt Lake City artist Trent Call.

La Bière de Belœil

Brasserie Dupont
Tourpes, Belgium
Belgian Strong Pale Ale
8.5 percent ABV

Price: $11 for 750 ml.

Brewed by the Brasserie Dupont in Tourpes, the brewery renowned for its Saison Dupont, this bottle-conditioned 8.5 percent ABV Belgian pale ale was first brewed by request from the village of Belœil. Located just a few miles from the brewery, the town is best known as the home of the historic Château de Belœil, one of the largest castles in Belgium. Brewed with five different malt strains, this very flavorful celebration of the season has a hazy amber hue and a white, long-lasting head, with aromas of caramel and herbal tea. The funky Dupont yeast makes itself known through hints of herbs, wood and spice, with each sip an explosion of rich, savory flavors. An assertive aftertaste includes bitterness from the spice, along with bright apple.

Autumn Maple

The Bruery
Placentia, California
Belgian-Style Brown Ale
10 percent ABV (Alcohol by Volume)

Price: $10 for 750 ml.

The Bruery in Orange County, California, has its own take on the pumpkin beer style. Its Autumn Maple is a conglomeration of yams, maple syrup, allspice, vanilla, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg and its own traditional Belgian yeast strain. The result is a bold, spicy, Belgian-style brown ale logging in at 10 percent ABV. 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.

Pecan Harvest Ale

Abita Brewing Company
Abita Springs, Louisiana
American Brown Ale
5.1 percent ABV

Price: $8 for a six-pack

First introduced in 2007, this fall seasonal release from the Louisiana brewery is part of Abita's Harvest series, alongside Strawberry Lager and Satsuma Wit. Not an ingredient normally found in beer, the fresh roasted pecans are South Louisiana-grown and are added during the brewing process along with Munich and Caramel malts — barley grains that are also known for imparting nutty flavor. This actively carbonated American brown ale pours a deep amber with a slight haze and the pecans stand out prominently in the nose. The flavor is malty sweet, offering medium roasted malt blended with caramel and pecan for pleasant, though not overbearing, nutty qualities. A bit of toffee and slight grainy coffee comes through in the aftertaste.

Samuel Adams Ruby Mild

Boston Beer Company
Boston, Massachusetts
English Dark Mild Ale
5.6 percent ABV

Price: $14 for Harvest Collection twelve-pack

A brand new creation from the Boston Beer Company, Samuel Adams Ruby Mild is part of the brewery's Harvest Collection that is released each fall. A tribute to English railway workers' brew of choice in the 1800s, its name is an apt description. The ale pours a ruby color and the "mild" references both the English beer style and its easy drinking nature. Comprising English Maris Otter, Carafa I, C60, Special B and Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, its star flavor is caramel malt, with a light, toasted smokiness and delicate note of English East Kent Golding hops in the supporting cast. This slightly sweet, smooth brew goes down easy, and is not overpowering in either malt or hops. Samuel Adams Ruby Malt is only available in the Harvest Collection twelve-pack.

Harvest

Southern Tier
Lakewood, New York
Extra Special Bitter
6.7 percent ABV

Price: $9.49 for a six-pack

Although brewed with English hops and billed as an English-style Extra Special Bitter, this ale out of Lakewood, New York, shouts out its American pedigree through its not-so-subtle hop dominance. It pours a fall-themed, orange color with aromas of hoppy grapefruit, resinous pine and caramel. Although the fruity fresh hop flavor is predominant, it's not overly bitter, with enough of a solid malt backbone coming through to allow the hops to melt into the malt. While Harvest Ale may be bigger than most ESBs, it is still an easy-drinking session beer, with an added bonus of hop notes lingering well after the sip.

John John Ale

Rogue
Newport, Oregon
Herbed / Spiced Beer
5.2 percent ABV

Price: $9 for 22 oz.

The Rogue brewery lives up to its name by daring to brew interesting, non-traditional beers using off-the-wall ingredients like peanut butter, banana and bacon. They even went so far as to brew a beer with a wild yeast cultivated from microbes growing in the brewmaster's beard. So, one with juniper berries aged in spruce gin barrels almost seems tame in comparison. The pair of Johns in the name refers to the collaboration of Rogue Brewmaster John Maier and Rogue Master Distiller John Couchot, who distills Rogue Spruce Gin and then supplies the barrels in which this juniper pale ale is aged. A bit of a homegrown beer, "John John Ale" features Rogue Micro Hopyard Revolution hops and the Dare and Risk strains of barley from Rogue's micro farms. Upon sipping, you discover an effervescent, bright piney freshness, with flavors of spruce and juniper dominating but not overpowering. The myriad ingredients used to make the spruce gin include spruce, juniper berries, ginger, fresh cucumber, orris root, orange peel, lemon peel, tangerine, grains of paradise, angelica root, coriander and grain neutral spirit, which contribute to the ale's dry, complex, spicy finish.

Pipeline Porter

Kona Brewing Company
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
American Porter
5.4 percent ABV

Price: $9 for a six-pack

You can reach for your coffee and beer with the same hand when picking up this ale. Named for the Banzai Pipeline, the mecca of surfing, this porter is as dark as Hawaiian black lava. A distinctive roasty aroma stems from the intermingling of barley and freshly roasted 100 percent Kona coffee that's grown at the Cornwell Estate on the Big Island just down the coast from where the Kona Brewery is located. This brew delivers an earthy complexity with hints of chocolate and caramel flavors. For an extra treat, sweeten your porter with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for a creamy dessert float.

Autumn Ale

Breckenridge Brewery
Denver, Colorado
American Brown Ale
6.7 percent ABV

Price: $10 for a six-pack

Inspired by brewmaster Todd Usry's memories of fall in Virginia where he grew up, the pictures of brown leaves and earth tones and "After Rakin'" tagline on the label suggest this beer should be enjoyed after finishing your fall chores. This ale has characteristics of both a Märzen and a stout, but falls somewhere in between. Its dark brown appearance pushes it towards the qualifiers of a dark beer, and while it's brewed with noble hops and Munich malts, the flavor has the nutty malt and subtle sweetness of an Oktoberfest style that's been bolstered with nuances of roasted grain, dark fruits and a hint of chocolate.

Cuvée des Trolls

Brasserie Dubuisson
Pipaix, Belgium
Belgian Strong Pale Ale
7 percent ABV

Price: $12 for 25 oz.

The name means "vat of the trolls" and the label depicts a troll wearing a hat of hop leaves. While trolls are thought to be not so nice creatures, these trolls are kind enough to bring us a beer from the historical and independent Brasserie Dubuisson, which has been in operation since 1769, longer than most Trappist breweries and before Belgium became a country. Brewed since 2000, this strong Belgian ale is a balance of sweetness and bitterness, derived from the use of natural sugar and dried orange peel. Blond malts give it a deep golden hue and extra carbonation results in a creamy finish. If you'd like a similar but slightly bigger version, the Cuvée des Trolls "Cuvée Spéciale" weighs in at 7.5 percent ABV.

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