You can always tell when summer is becoming fall: leaves turning, footballs flying and fresh new seasonal brews hitting shelves. Autumn has Bavaria written all over it, so you’ll find plenty of dunkels, doppelbocks and Oktoberfest types. But brown and red ales are also commonplace, as is that fine British staple, the ESB. Do it right with the following proven winners.
Lagunitas Brown Shugga In a classic story of making lemonade from lemons, Lagunitas’ failure at brewing a batch of Old GnarlyWine resulted in the birth of Brown Shugga. Toasted and roasted malt notes with a slight hint of molasses. Sweet and chewy and even the average tippler might want to respect the almost 10 percent ABV.
Iron Hill Flemish Red This is a sour red ale, which means it is brewed with wild yeast. That imparts a funky taste for some beer drinkers. This particular brew was aged in wine barrels for nine months. Lots of prickly carbonation and tart cherry notes. Expect a sweet fruity finish.
Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel The beer style that made Munich a brewing epicenter, dunkels are brewed with copious amounts of dark malt. People tend to equate this use of malt with a chocolate malt ball flavor. There’s also some toffee and sweet caramel in the beer’s profile and a somewhat earthy hop finish.
Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Grainy, biscuit malt backbone with a caramel mouthfeel and some Hallertau hops thrown in for balance. In Europe, it can be argued, this is the taste of autumn.
The Bruery Autumn Maple A Belgian-inspired brown ale brewed with yams, (yes, yams!) maple syrup, molasses and allspice, this beer puts a twist on the seasonal pumpkin beers. Belgian yeast lends an earthy character while the yams, maple syrup and molasses add a candied sweetness and the allspice conjures up the aroma of a holiday kitchen in full swing.
Fuller's ESB Bitters are a staple of English pubs, and none is truer to the style than Fuller’s ESB. A nose full of toffee and caramel notes gives way to a mellow citrusy hop mouthfeel balanced out by biscuity malt. Consistently ranking at the top of its class, this burly brew owes its rep to the “hard” water from Burton-on-Trent.
Founders Brewing Harvest Ale A harvest ale can be defined as a beer brewed with fresh hops harvested and delivered in three days or less to the brewery. In this case, huge super fruity and floral notes come off the head with an orange pith and grapefruit rind mouthfeel (some might detect pine or mint aroma and/or taste) and a marmalade-on-toast finish. This brew is a bitter and resinous slap to the face, yet tasty if hops are your thing. Pucker up.