The age of the domestic beer monopoly in the United States shrinks with each passing day. The beer industry around the world dominates the alcoholic beverage industry, as consumers drink 3,500 bottles of beer for every one glass of wine – that makes 8,000 times more beer consumed by the liter. Annually, consumers worldwide drink 189 billion liters of beer, but only 24 million liters of wine. While drinking habits may peak during certain times of the year such as holidays, the consumption of beverages remains fairly consistent and rarely makes huge changes in consumption from one day to the next. The changing seasons do have a great effect on the types and styles of beers consumed, as more people start to prefer full-bodied beers. While fall should tune the weather down a bit, Southern California remains hot as ever. Tons of pumpkin beers start to surface around this time, and perhaps the people have gotten tired of seeing pumpkin beers everywhere. However, some breweries continue to brew new pumpkin beers, reimagining how we will perceive these fall-style beers. If you still have room for pumpkin beer in your system, read on for five fall beers that I recommend trying this season, all of which you can find at your local bottle shop throughout Southern California.
5. Elysian Brewing‘s Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale
This past year, a series of “sellouts” have rocked America’s craft beer industry, as the big companies start to fear the rising power of microbreweries. Craft beer has reached an all-time high as far as popularity and sales go, and the big companies view craft beer as a threat, and has started to buy out (or partially buy) some of the more popular microbreweries. Though these sellouts routinely occur year to year, perhaps the role of the catalyst for this year’s tumble belongs to Elysian Brewing. I remember visiting one of Elysian’s locations in Seattle two years ago, and I instantly fell in love with their tasting room and brew selection. Now just because they now belong to a large corporation does not mean I like their beers any less. Elysian still produces some amazing beers, such as their Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale. At only 5.0% abv, this brew carries aromas of coffee, light pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spices with notes of toasty malts that join the flavor chorus of Stumptown coffee and pumpkin. Seattle breweries love their pumpkin beer, and Seattleites love their coffee, so why not combine the two?
4. Anderson Valley‘s Pinchy Jeek Barl
As much as I love craft beer, I do not possess a wealth of knowledge about the history of it. While I cannot explain the origins of aging beer in barrels, I along with countless others appreciate whomever discovered the process of barrel-aging beers. With this process, the majority of breweries around the world now have at least one barrel in their brewery holding a brew that will turn out mature, tasty, and stronger. If you intend to try a barrel-aged beer this season, look towards Anderson Valley. I always underestimate Anderson Valley because, like another known brewery, they tend to stay in the middle of the fray instead of trying to stand out. Perhaps they do this on purpose to avoid controversy by making good beers without getting the attention of the big companies. This means that Anderson Valley can continue to churn out beers such as Pinchy Jeek Barl. Barrel-aged for six months in Wild Turkey Bourbon barrels, this 8.5% pumpkin ale delivers a silky body and sweet caramel flavors with additions of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice complementing hints of coconut, bourbon, and vanilla imparted by oak aging. Following a wallop of a body, this brew finishes smooth and creamy. I strongly suggest sharing this bottle with a friend or two – finishing an entire bottle in one sitting will give you an early night.
3. Epic Brewing‘s Fermentation Without Representation
Ever since I discovered Epic Brewing‘s Exponential Series, I have yet to experience disappointment with any of their beers. Epic Brewing truly lives up to their name with the beers that they continually push out, and other breweries recognize the quality behind Epic. For this year’s batch of Fermentation Without Representation, Epic Brewing collaborated with DC Brau to brew this bold 8.0% abv beer with loads of seasonal spices & flavors with a delicate balance of malts, hops, and pumpkin. This beer explodes with aromas of sweet spices giving way to chocolate, roasted malt, fresh-cut pumpkin, clove, fresh Madagascar vanilla beans, nutmeg, and allspice. Not for the faint of heart, Fermentation Without Representation goes all-in with its flavor, leaving nothing to the imagination. If you seek something bold to close your night, look no further than Epic Brewing’s Fermentation Without Representation.
2. Stone Brewing Co.‘s Vertical Epic 08.08.08
Approaching two decades in the industry, Stone Brewing shows no signs of waning, despite co-founder Greg Koch stepping down from the CEO position. To commemorate 20 years in the craft beer industry, Stone Brewing will launch their 20th Anniversary Encore Series, a lineup of beers that celebrate Stone Brewing’s amazing history and their incredible lineup of memorable beers that have since retired. To kick off this series, Stone Brewing has brought Vertical Epic 08.08.08 out of retirement to once again tackle our taste buds. This 8.9% Belgian-style IPA uses a Belgian yeast strain during fermentation to provide a complex aroma of clove, pepper, and tropical fruits to generate a flavor profile composed of banana, spice, and citrus. Just like many did in 2008, you can enjoy this brew fresh or cellar it to enjoy a smoother and more mature flavor – I suggest not exceeding three years with this one. Keep an eye on Stone Brewing during this next year as they release other anniversary ales and collaboration ales on the road to the 20th anniversary celebration in August next year.
1. Howe Sound Brewing‘s Pumpkineater
Just because the United States has just exceeded 4,000 breweries does not mean that other countries cannot enjoy the fun as well. A handful of European countries thrive with their precious beers, and even Canada loves their beer. Up in British Columbia not too far past the Washington state border lies the Howe Sound, and at the far end in the area known as Squamish lies a local brewery & inn called Howe Sound Brewing. Basically a bed & breakfast (BnB), this brewery and inn in one allows visitors to come enjoy all the brews offered by Howe Sound Brewing, and stay the night to avoid any drunken mishaps at the end of the day. Howe Sound Brewing delivers a solid lineup of brews typical of any microbrewery, plus some unique seasonal brews, such as their fall seasonal imperial pumpkin ale, the Pumpkineater. Howe Sound Brewing brews this high-gravity pumpkin ale with barley, fresh-roasted pumpkin, hops, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise, resulting in an 8.0% abv beer low in IBUs. Sold in 33.8oz bottles, each bottle can serve two to four people. If you need a craft beer to serve to a party this season, make sure you grab some Pumpkineater from your local bottle shop.