All words: Mitchell West; Photos: Morgan H. West
Fall is my favorite time of year, and it’s also my favorite time of year to drink beer. Pumpkin ales are among the first that come to mind, but few beers are as polarizing as pumpkin beers. You may like them, you may not (I do … in moderation), but they are not the only types of season-specific beer to drink September through November. Here are some great non-pumpkin fall beers, all readily available here in the District.
Anchor Brewing Big Leaf Maple
Anchor Brewing is one of America’s very first craft breweries, and while they are best known for their Steam Beer, the Big Leaf Maple should be on all beer lovers’ maps. The addition of maple syrup in the beer makes it sound like it would be too sweet, but it’s actually perfect. Hop flavors without the bitterness, lots of malt without the full body, and maple flavors without being cloying. This is a wonderfully balanced beer with delicious malt and maple notes.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales Bam Noire
While we’re talking about avoiding “pumpkin” beers, we can happily venture over to Michigan’s Jolly Pumpkin brewery. They produce artisanal farmhouse ales, and usually do not include actual pumpkin. Jolly Pumpkin beers are all aged in oak barrels, and the wild yeasts living in the wood of these barrels give their beers the funky flavors that brewery is known for. Bam Noire is a dark saison-style ale, highly carbonated and very dark, yet very light tasting with lots of sour Belgian flavors. The dark malts used to make this beer give it a wonderful roasty flavor that make it a perfect ale for the fall.
Troeg’s Brewing Hop Knife
North American hops are harvested at the end of the summer. While most of the harvest is dried and vacuum-packed to be sold at a later date, many breweries take advantage of this time and use these freshly harvested hops in their beers. Troeg’s take on this is their Hop Knife. The beer pours a light copper color and reeks of fresh grapefruit hop flavor, which is a great thing. It is a very drinkable light IPA with little malt sweetness or hop bitterness. A great example of a harvest ale, available only in the fall.
New Belgium & 3 Floyds Gratzer
First off, it’s such a treat to have a beer (partially) brewed by 3 Floyd’s available in DC. The small brewery from Indiana is one of the best breweries in the country and they do not distribute here. This beer was a collaboration with New Belgium, and brewed in the Polish Gratzer style. It pours very dark, almost black, and is very smoky, slightly spicy, and highly acidic. At only 4.5% alcohol. it’s also a great fall session beer.