Can I go trick or treating for beer?

Posted: October 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

Well Fall has set in here in Afghanistan, cooler temps and kicking winds, dusty skys this country is just grand! But it does make me crave Fall beer like crazy. I know most Fall beers are mid way through distribution back in the states, and soon the holiday beers will be upon us. But today let’s take some time and really relish in this wonderful season of beer. Most people think Fall beer and think of two things, either Oktoberfest, or Pumpkin Ale. And for the most part those cover all of the bases of Fall beer. So what exactly are these beers? Well that what were going to discuss today!
Oktoberfest, a beer named for the fall celebration in Germany, these beers tend to be on the darker side with rich bold flavors. The true Oktoberfest takes place in Munich, Germany, it runs from late September to the first weekend in October, and is between 16 and 18 days. It is two and a half weeks of traditional German food, and beer, and is the biggest beer fest in the world. In Germany they serve hundreds of beers at Oktoberfest, all different types and flavors. However here the US most of the Oktoberfest beers we enjoy are a Bavarian style known as Marzen. This style of beer is classified as a lager and is generally a dark red almost garnet in color. They are full flavored, not quite as bitter as IPA’s but close. I think the best way to describe their flavor is robust; many people describe them with a smoky malty flavor.
Pumpkin Ales are exactly as they sound, it is a beer brewed with pumpkin flavoring. Whether natural or artificial, depends on the brewer but these beers generally have a strong pumpkin or spice flavor to them. Pumpkin ales hold a special place in my fridge and in my heart as they are a huge part of the craft brewing revolution and helped bring the movement to where it is today! There is documentation of the first Pumpkin ales being brewed by the Pilgrims as they did not have much barley so they used pumpkin as a replacement for it. Today most brewers don’t actually use real pumpkin they use pumpkin adjuncts which is just a type of flavoring. Pumpkin ales today are made to have “fall like” flavors, to include cinnamon, ginger, and spiced cider, as a result, good pumpkin ales, are incredibly complex, not so good pumpkin ales, tend to taste like cider. If you don’t believe me taste Coors Brewing Companies poor attempt, maybe you have heard of it, it’s called Harvest Moon. Don’t worry I am going to tell you about a great one soon.

Festie Star hill brewery. This beer has everything a good beer should and more, to include a cool name that pays tribute to its roots! It has a nice full bodied flavor, that’s malty and sweet. It’s hoppy to start but you get flavors of spice like cinnamon and nutmeg as it moves through your mouth and has a spicy sweet finish. Its amber in color, and I am not 100% sure I would classify it as a Marzen it may be more of an amber ale either way it is delicious This was my first Virginia beer, the first day I moved to Virginia so it has some sentimental value as well, which may add to love for it. This beer weighs in with 12IBU’s and 4.8% ABV

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, Smuttynose Brewery. Remember how I said if pumpkin ale was done right it was complex and wonderful?  Well grab a glass or bottle of this brew, and enjoy the foliage! When you first see this beer, it is almost the color of a pumpkin, it has a great color! The smell is not at all over powering but if you didn’t know it was pumpkin ale you would once you got a smell. The taste of this beer it what amazes me, it’s got cinnamon and nutmeg up front, with a very light malty background, however as it moves through your moth you get the full pumpkin flavor as well as hints of ginger and finishes with tiny hint of Cider. This beer is good, but, after a few the residual sugars give me a bit of a stomach ache as with most pumpkin ales. It weighs in at 6.0% ABV and no IBU’s are listed.

Samuel Adams Oktoberfest Boston Brewing Company, I know usually only cover two beers but this one is worth the exception. Sam Adams is pretty damn close to a commercial brewery at this point and has done wonders for the craft beer movement! From the bottle this beer pours a great dark amber color with a decent head on it. It leaves spotty lacing, but it’s there. This beer is better if you can get it on tap but it’s good out of the bottle as well. This is a fairly complex Oktoberfest, sweet, I think almost caramel flavored at the start but quickly transforms to a great smoky, hoppy, finish, definitely smokier than ‘hoppier’ however. This beer makes me very nostalgic of New England Fall’s and the beauty that they offer, maybe next year we will go on Fall brew tour in New England. This beer weighs in at 5.3% ABV and no IBU’s are listed.



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