Fall is arguably the best seasonal brew season. An abundance of different flavors and traditional varieties arrives once again to craft breweries around North America. And not to mention, the abundance of food harvested during this time also demands a good amount of beer to go with it. So here are some of my favourites of the season that you should try:
Oktoberfest / Märzen – Bratwurst
Part of fall tradition during the middle-age Europe was to empty the kegs of beer made in the last cold months of Spring (aka March or Märzen in German). These beers are traditionally light amber in color, and slightly higher in alcohol and hops. Add some merriment with some harvest food and you get Oktoberfest.
Smoked Beer – Slow-Cooked Meats
Traditional German smoked beers are called Rauchbier. These beers are brewed using a small portion of smoked barley in the mashing stage of brewing. They vary in color and can be ales or lagers, and can have low or high smoked flavor depending on how much smoked barley is used.
Other pairing ideas: Hard/smoked cheeses, BBQ wings and ribs
Wet-Hopped Ales – Fall Vegetable Curry
Typically dried hops are used to make nearly all of the beers we know and love. However, early fall is hop season in Canada and in northern United States. Wet-hopping refers to the use of fresh hops at some point during the boiling stage of the brewing process. Usually a single variety of wet hops is used to give a unique and vibrant character to these beers.
Other pairing ideas: Paté, mild fall curry with seasonal vegetables, a cool and sunny fall evening
Pumpkin Spiced Ale – Pumpkin Cupcakes
Pumpkin ale originated in America during 1700s. It is believed American Pilgrims were the first to use pumpkin to brew their beers as a partial substitute for barley, which was expensive.
As barley became more available, pumpkin beer disappeared for a while. However, it is now seeing a resurgence as a seasonal craft beer. Pumpkin ales are often brewed with pumpkin meat in the mash as well as typical pumpkin pie spices.
Other pairing ideas: Thanksgiving leftovers, squash or pumpkin soup, pumpkin spice anything
Double IPA – Pulled Pork
An increasingly popular style among craft breweries in North America, Double or Imperial Pale Ale has more hops and higher alcohol content then typical IPA. The “double” comes from the two I’s (Imperial India Pale Ale), and not the amount of hops used. However, the bitterness and alcohol level can approach “double” the amount in regular beer at times.
Like the wet-hopped ales of hop season, this beer can be brewed in fall to take advantage of a fresh shipment of newly dried hops, or using some fresh hops in the boil as well.
Other pairing ideas: Spicy curry, fish fajitas with spicy salsa verde