As the leaves start to change colors, you may notice a subtle shift in your palate.
While summer is all about the easy-to-drink lagers and light beers, the beginning of the new season may leave you thirsting for more complex flavors in your beer mug. These options for fall are a little heavier than the beers you enjoyed during the warm months, but they are heartier and more savory and contain many more layers of flavor. Once a chill starts to creep into the air when October and November draw near, pouring any of these into your pint is mighty comforting.
Nothing says fall like a really hoppy IPA. India pale ale doesn’t actually come from India. The brew’s moniker actually comes from the British colonial era. It was prepared in the home country and then shipped over to the Brits’ colony in India. It’s more alcoholic than other beers because the extra hooch helped it stay fresh on the long journey. To this day, it’s a higher proof than many beers, so you might not want to knock these back as quickly as you would a less alcoholic lager.
Many beer makers offer limited-edition seasonal labels that pay homage to autumn with a wide bouquet of special flavors. As the leaves start to change, you’ll see pumpkin ales and other timely labels with hints of spice, nuts and honey. Get these while you can--they’ll disappear from the liquor stores once snow starts to fall.
Porters, sometimes called black beers, are given their very dark brown or black color during the brewing process. Many brewmasters age their porters in barrels, mixing in all sorts of flavors. The result is typically heavier than your average brew, so porters are somewhat of an acquired taste among beer drinkers. For fall, keep your eyes peeled for coffee or chocolate porters, and don’t think that you’re going to have liquid dessert. Although the beers are brewed with flavors like that in mind, the result is a nuanced drink that contains hints of the ingredients without being overpowered by them.
With leaves turning brilliant shades of amber during the season, you should try a beer that follows suit. Amber ales are increasing in popularity as the public wants beer that actually has flavor. They are slightly meatier than a standard pale ale and pair really well with comfort foods that hit the spot during the season. The brownish color comes from a special malt that is added during the brewing process. If you don’t like the hoppiness of IPA but still want something a little darker in your glass, a pint of this is the way to go.
This German brew style is like wheat beer, but darker. The style is popular in the southern part of Germany, and in the fall you should see this popping up on menus at places that have a solid knowledge of world beers. The flavor of the hearty brew is frequently compared to banana bread--expect creamy and complex flavors that include notes of nuts, cream and coffee.
Don't be afraid to experiment with any of these at your next bash.
What's your favorite fall brew?