It’s not by accident or mere coincidence that I am waiting until after Thanksgiving to post about Fall seasonal beers. It’s out of protest. Craft brewers seem to be taking a lead from retailers and start selling seasonal beers way too early. Just like I don’t want to see anything
Thanksgiving Christmas related at the mall before Halloween, I don’t want an Oktoberfest in the middle of August while sitting poolside in a sweat. I want something lighter – an easy sipper. I also don’t want a Christmas all with my turkey. The spices just don’t blend. Give me the harvest ale I didn’t want back in August. Seasonal offerings need to match our palettes, not what Walmart is selling.
I have love / hate feelings over Fall beers. As I recently posted, the Fall varieties includes my absolute favorite seasonal offering of all seasons with Oktoberfests. The Fall also offers not just my favorite seasonal, but my least favorite beer of all – pumpkin ales. I would rather sip a Keystone Light than a pumpkin. Apparently I am alone in my hatred: in a post over on Beer and Whiskey Brothers, 55% of those polled put pumpkins at the top of their seasonal Fall favorite list. Oktoberfest came in second with 29% of the votes, and Harvest Ales came in third with 16% of the vote.
Outside of my mini-fridge full of random Oktoberfest beers, I decided to pick up a few Fall seasonal brews that didn’t include Oktobfest or pumpkin. I guess these would be the harvest ales which seem to be a catch all for whatever the brewer thinks would be a good fall seasonal ale. The varieties I sampled ranged from the hoppier Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest, which I really enjoyed even though I am not much of a hop head, to the odd, Widmer Brothers SXNW, a dark ale brewed with chiles, chocolate, cinnamon, and pecans. I found that the flavor in the SXNW did not really mesh well together. It was a good idea for a beer though. I was completely blown away by The Bruery’s Autumn Maple. It is a different take on a pumpkin ale brewed with yams, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup. The addition of the molasses and maple syrup add a rich malt missing in most pumpkins.
I am sad to say that I was unable to enjoy my favorite Fall seasonal ale – Lazy’ Magnolia’s Southern Pecan. Sure, Abita makes a version, and it is good, but it’s not a Southern Pecan. Lazy Magnolia’s version is sweeter, with stronger pecan influences, and a drinkability that won’t let you put down the glass. Alas, Lazy Magnolia does not distribute to North Carolina. After failed attempts to locate the ale by my parents in Florida and my inlaws in Texas, I will go without it this season.