Autumn is when pale, crisp, and refreshing Summer brews fall out of favor. Beer-drinkers begin to crave something more flavorful. The most popular fall seasonal style is the Märzen, AKA Festbier, but many brewers put their own spin on Fall brew, experimenting with pumpkin ale and other beers the color of autumn leaves.
The Beer Menu
1. Schlafy Kölsch, St. Louis Brewery, St. Louis, Missouri (4.8%)
Our Kölsch is a classic golden ale that uses a centuries old yeast strain sourced from a famous Kölsch brewer in Köln, Germany. Fermented warm, then cold conditioned, it has the delicate fruity aroma of an ale with the crisp, clean finish of a lager.
2. Cherry Pale Ale #3, RAW Brewing, Washington, D.C. (6.0%)
The third incarnation of Rich’s world renown Cherry Pale Ale. This version has a slightly more pronounced cherry aroma and flavor to go with the moderate hop character.
3. Hoptober Golden Ale, New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado (6.0%)
Five hops and four malts make Hoptober Golden Ale a veritable cornucopia of the earth. Pale and wheat malt are mashed with rye and oats to create a medium-bodied ale with a creamy mouthfeel. Centennial, Cascade, Sterling, Willamette, and Glacier hops form a bonfire of citrus notes, fruity cheers and a bold finale.
4. “Hop Nog” Pale Ale, RAW Brewing, Washington, D.C. (6.0%)
This is a kit beer that is typically released for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. But the brew is great anytime. Generously dry hopped with Cascade hops (my first attempt at dry hopping), this lively concoction has generous hop aroma and flavor with moderate bitterness in the tradition of Western U.S. Pale Ales.
5. Harvest Ale, Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood, New York (6.7%)
Harvest Ale is our celebration of the changing weather. We usher in the fall with a classic English-style Extra Special Bitter of the highest order. Deep ruby in color with an even deeper hop flavor – in fact, we throw fresh English hops into every brewing vessel, then dry hop after fermentation to impart a zesty kick. This beer has real hop character that mingles with fresh malted barley for an experience that will make you wish it were fall year ‘round.
6. Hofbräu Oktoberfestbier, Munich, Germany (6.3%)
The Munich Beer Festival, or Oktoberfest, is an event of superlatives – it’s the largest popular festival in the world, held in the beer metropolis of Munich. Millions of visitors from all over the world come every year to enjoy its very special atmosphere. For this occasion, Hofbräu brews a rich, full-bodied beer that goes down ideally with traditional Bavarian cuisine. It is an absolutely natural product; brewed from pure water, the best quality malt, and exquisite hops. Offering a clean, crisp edge, it is a vital part of the Oktoberfest experience. As unique as the Oktoberfest itself! Hofbräu exports to the U.S. this same beer, from the same batches that are made for its own tent at the Oktoberfest.
7. Prosit!, Heavy Seas Beer, Baltimore, Maryland (8.0%)
Launched in 2009, the Mutiny Fleet line from Heavy Seas showcases unusual beer styles in excess of 8% ABV. These are our biggest and boldest beers. This Imperial Oktoberfest Lager is malt-focused with five types of grain including Vienna and Munich malts, plus a secret extra malt that we use only in our Prosit! Balanced with 3 kinds of hops.
8. Moonglow Weizenbock, Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pennsylvania (8.7%)
This dark amber wheat beer features fruity and spicy aromas galore. Significant strength underlies the pleasant citric appeal of this bock beer. Redolent with the flavors of harvest fruit, Moonglow typifies the traditional weizenbock-style so thoroughly enjoyed throughout Bavaria. Left unfiltered, its unique yeast strain gives Moonglow a radiance all its own.
9. Salvator Doppelbock, Paulaner Brauerei, Munich, Germany (7.9%)
This is the original Paulaner, the founding beer of Paulaner. The Salvator Double Bock is a bottom-fermented beer and has been brewed in almost exactly the same way since the end of the 18th century. It combines the most delicate of hops and dark barley malt to give a strong, malty taste and an inviting, gleaming copper colour.The Paulaner monks drank Salvator Double Bock as a substitute for food during Lent. The most famous brewer of all was Brother Barnabas who ran the Paulaner monastery brewery starting in 1773. To this day, his original recipe remains almost unaltered. In order to protect the original, Paulaner registered the “Salvator” trademark with the German Patent Office in 1896.
10. Great Pumpkin Ale, RAW Brewing, Washington, D.C. (6.0%)
My first attempt at a Pumpkin Ale – one of my favorite styles in the fall beer tradition. Brewed with 4 lbs of canned pumpkin and a dash of pumpkin pie spice, this brew hopefully has a mild pumpkin character with discernible nutmeg and clove spice notes. I say hopefully because this beer was just kegged last night and is being tasted for the first time today!
11. Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, Maryland (9.0%)
We brew Fear with a local pumpkin puree and secret blend of spices. But once you take a sniff and a sip, those spices become quite apparent. The Fear has a bold pumpkin pie flavor complemented by graham cracker and chocolate notes. Embrace the Fear and achieve greatness.
I know that the real Oktoberfest in Germany has been over for some time, but with a beer line-up like this, the fall beer drinking season deserves to be extended. The beer descriptions were provided by breweries/brewers.
Click to download the PDF version of the Oktoberfest 2011 Beer Tasting Menu.
The bready, malty notes of Oktoberfest beer were complimented by a German-inspired buffet of hot pretzels, wursts, German potato salad, and other hearty fare.
Attending: Beth, Emily and Benjamin; Rich, Susan, Elizabeth and Andrew; Javier, Mary Ellen and family; Kristin, Walter and family, Monroe, Carlyn, and family.
A special thanks to Rich for the home brews!