Craft on Tap: Our “Ultimate Autumn Six-Pack” Picks
Hello everyone, after taking a bit of a hiatus from updating this site I wanted to return with a brand-new recurring column: Craft on Tap. This will be examining another passion of mine: Craft Beer!! While this is still very much a pop culture blog mainly focusing on movies, comics, TV shows and such, I would like to argue that craft brewing is very much a part of pop culture. Like comics and movies, the craft beer scene has spawned a rapidly growing army of beer “geeks” (aka people that are fiercely loyal to the smaller craft breweries). Therefore, I think it’s only fitting to implement craft beer into this blog.
As autumn officially kicks in, most of us are already feeling the change in weather as the days grow shorter and the air turns colder. With this change in seasons, it’s also a time that the lighter beers of summer are swapped out for darker ales. With so many beers to choose from ranging from nut brown ales to an endless list of pumpkin ales, it can be quite intimidating to decide what beers to give a try during the next few months. So, to possibly guide you in a beer-Jedi-sort-of-way, I’ve compiled a list to make a “custom 6 pack” of Autumn beers (unlike most six-packs this will list a few bombers as well) To give the list a little diversity, I got some fellow friends and craft beer aficionados to compile their own custom autumn beer 6-pack lists as well (some duplicates exist but that just means we’re on the same wave-length). Of course, I am a strong believer in supporting your local craft brewery, so above all, this should definitely be a companion to drinking the local stuff.
For these lists, there’s 3 key stipulations/things to disclose about our selection process:
- The beers have been tasted (there’s so much beer, so little time/body limitations to try them all…plus it’d be bullshit to rattle off beers that we didn’t try first). So in other words “duh!”
- The beers can be found in stores (there’s plenty of breweries that are “on-tap only” that I’m fiercely loyal to, but unless you live near us, this list won’t help you out much, plus it isn’t designed to provoke a “I have better places to drink than you” pissing contest), so these can hopefully be found in your local stores as well.
- The beer is distributed to Colorado. That’s where the three of us are located currently. This stipulation also obviously mirrors stipulation number 1. There’s plenty that I tried at the Great American Beer Festival and wish that came this way (I’m looking at you 3 Floyds, Sun King, Cigar City, Jester King, Heavy Seas and Brooklyn Brewery!!) Needless to say, I’m sure there are possibly some blasphemous omissions from the following lists, but there’s also a very good chance that it hasn’t been tried or made available out here. Plus you can sound off below in the comments!
Anyway onward to the beer!
Left Hand Brewing Company Oktoberfest- Oktoberfest is rapidly coming to a close but this beer will likely be on the shelf for a just little while longer after the lederhosen is hung up. While there’s some more intense Oktoberfest beers out there (looking at you Kaiser by Avery), this one is great if you plan to have more than one stein of Marzen. A semi-mild hoppiness brings out a somewhat light spicy finish to the beer, making it a stand out top-notch beer when “Prost-ing” to the start of autumn.
Samuel Adams Hazel Brown – Earlier this year, Sam Adams founder Jim Kolch became the first craft brewer to become a billionaire. For some beer geeks, Sam Adams falls close to being labeled a macrobrewery despite being a craft brewer since the 80s. However, they certainly are the saving grace in small town bars with a Bud/Miller/Coors-dominated tap list. This particular beer might be my favorite offering from them. I’ve tried a few of their special bombers such as Fat Jack pumpkin beer and Merry Mischief with a great admiration for those beers, but this one is absolutely fantastic. It’s currently available in the autumn sampler pack along with their Oktoberfest and a few other seasonal offerings.
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale- Admittedly, I’ve had trouble finding this beer so far this year, but it’s definitely one of my favorite pumpkin beers. When it comes to pumpkin beer, I group them in two taste categories: “Pumpkin-y” or “Pumpkin Spice”, despite the fact that pumpkins are used in both scenarios. This was the first pumpkin beer that I’ve tried that tasted really “pumpkin-y” and I immediately surrendered my loyalty to it. I love plenty of Dogfish’s offerings, especially the Ancient Ales series (Ta Haket or Midas Touch), but this one is great for the fall months.
Elysian Dark O’ The Moon Pumpkin Stout – Elysian is a brewery that does some really awesome pumpkin beers. After discovering them at last year’s Great American Beer Festival, I’ve come to enjoy their fall offerings. This one, however, is one of my favorites and could rapidly be my overall go-to pumpkin ale in time (possibly contradicting my “surrender my loyalty” comment above). Again, this is a pumpkin-y offering, which I’m more partial to. Their other pumpkin beers “Night Owl” and “Great Pumpkin” are equally awesome.
Great Divide Fresh Hop- The end of summer typically brings in a parade of the upcoming fall beers usually a month or two prior to the autumn months. However, the end of summer is also “fresh hop” season. Most breweries will likely offer several fresh hop beers on tap only and “Fresh Hop Season” is wrapped up just as quickly as Oktoberfest. However, Great Divide does briefly send out some of their Fresh Hop in bombers. I’ve slowly acquired a taste for “hop-bombs” over the years, but still very much gravitate towards other ales instead when given a choice (IPAs just aren’t my go-to, but I do drink them more frequently than previous years past). This one however, while still hoppy, didn’t strike me as overly bitter. Instead, I got a very fresh, earthy taste, which was really nice and not overly intimidating. Great for those still mild days early in the season before the really cold stuff happens.
New Belgium Brewing PumpKick – In 2011, New Belgium collaborated with Elysian to create a beer for their “Lips of Faith” series called “Kick”; a sour, cranberry, oak-aged pumpkin beer. I was a big fan of it and still mourn for its discontinuation. PumpKick, however, is a more readily available much-less sour version of that awesome beer. So needless to say, I like it. Combining cranberry with pumpkin, it makes for an interesting spin on the usual pumpkin beer offerings. Since the original Kick was limited release, it’s nice to see this one out and available (although their seasonal beers are often replaced annually to keep things fresh and creative… so it may not even return next year). Word to the wise though: Don’t buy it fully expecting pumpkin, it’s something fully different…but that’s a good thing!
Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen
If you’re looking for an Oktoberfest, it’s hard to beat the Germans. Ayinger’s marzen is one of the best and is available locally
Rogue Chatoe Pumpkin Patch Ale– I was a little lukewarm on the whole pumpkin beer obsession until I tried this one. Brewed with ingredients grown by Rogue themselves, this beer has a balanced freshness I haven’t found in other pumpkin beers.
Left Hand Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout- I just tried this beer for the first time, and man, was I missing out! Again, my malt obsession is showing. Lots of sweet caramel balanced with cocoa bitterness.
Bocker Bellegems Bruin – You may have already picked this one up just for the fun label, but the contents do not disappoint. I like this one especially because the sourness is balanced with the malt sweetness, instead of just being too puckery.
Hopefully, these lists help you on your next trip to the beer freezer. Reguardless of choice, be sure to raise a glass and prost to the changing of the season! Afterall, it won’t be long until Winter is here…and we’ll probably help you pick a few snowed-in beers to enjoy by the fireplace when the time comes. In the time between I’ll try to compile a front-line report from Great American Beer Festival next weekend with maybe a few weekly “what are we drinking beer highlights” in the time between. Cheers!