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Friday, September 27, 2013

It’s Pumpkin Treason! Other Beers for Fall!

I love pumpkin.  I really do.  I’ll even order a pumpkin spice latte during the heart of summer.  And I love pumpkin beer.   I obsessively buy bottles every year to compare and contrast the pumpkiny nuances of each brewer’s fall masterpiece.  I even push my love for pumpkin beer on others.  Dogfish Head Punkin Ale was the main beer available at my wedding last fall.  But, there are times (even in the fall…. *gasp*), when I just want something ELSE.

It’s blasphemy.  It’s pumpkin treason.  It’s probably the reason that the Great Pumpkin still hasn’t shown up in Linus’s most sincere pumpkin patch.  And yet, here we are.  We’re not quite to the porters and stouts of winter.  Almost everyone is well versed in the many Octoberfest beers.  But I know many of you are still thirsty for more.
So if you, like me, need to switch it up once in a while, here are some OTHER beer styles that you can expand into that really are perfect for fall.

Sour / Wild Ale – This quickly growing category of sours is my latest beer obsession and it pairs perfectly with many of the other flavors that appear during this season.  If you are new to this taste category, start with a beer that has a lot of sour cherry background such as the Petrus Aged Red or the Duchesse De Bourgogne before branching off into the harder to find, and significantly more sour, pale varieties such as the Cantillons, the Russian Rivers, or the one offs from Allagash.
Petrus Aged Red

Abt / Quadrupel / Quad – Many of the beers that often fall into the “best beer in the world” lists fit into this beer style category.  With their extremely malty taste, distinctive high alcohol content and thus lingering alcohol notes such as bourbon or whiskey, and a characteristic lack of hops to the nose, these beers can make you crave a chilly fall evening and a fire pit.  Luckily, many of these beers are available just about everywhere, including St. Bernardus Abt 12, Rochefort Trappistes 10, and Ommegang Three Philosophers, just to name a few.

Brother Thelonious
Belgian Strong Ale – The Belgian Strong Ale can be quite the tricky beer style.  Pour one of these and you can get a high hop flavor and a pale color, and then open the next and find a very low hop flavor and a dark brown hue.  I suggest moving towards the darker side of the spectrum as fall moves in and many are actually labeled as Belgian Strong Dark Ale to help guide your way.  Again, the alcohol content is on the higher side for these, which helps warm your palette as the evenings grow cooler.  Many within this style have a wonderfully spicy background reminiscent of a perfect crock pot meal.  An excellent example of this style is Brother Thelonious by North Coast Brewing Company.  Also widely available are Chimay Blue by Bieres de Chimay and Trois Pistoles by Unibroue.

Of course this is just the beginning of the fall beer adventures you can go on.  Throw in an Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB), a Dark Wheat Ale, and a Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy and you’ll have a non-pumpkin fall tasting you won’t soon forget.

**Thank you to our special blog contributor Mark Elliot.  
Follow Mark on twitter @TWCMarkElliot**

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