We're all about the seasonal changing of colors and temperatures, and the same can be said of the beers we’re looking forward to as the colder weather kicks in. It’s time for a little fall cleaning, so finish off those summer blondes and fruit beers to make room for darker, richer styles.
Fall is also the time for special release beers. Plenty of classic “winter” beers are released now because they usually need a few months (or years) to mature in the bottle before drinking. Though some of best brews (Alesmith’s Barrel-Aged Speedway Stout comes to mind) are strictly brewery-only, here are some special releases out now you can look for.
The Bruery: Autumn Maple
If you're looking for a seasonal beer starring Belgian yeast, this is what you should be looking for. While pumpkin beers have their place in the later months, many come off as being poorly executed spice bombs. This seasonal takes that recipe and subs out the pumpkins for yams, which works great! Also in the mix is cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses and maple syrup, all fermented with Belgian yeast. Things get even better with the barrel-aged version, which you can (and should) seek out at the brewery.
Perennial Artisan Ales: Abraxas
Few beers caused as much commotion this year as Abraxas. If you’re looking for an imperial stout to spice up a cold night, this is the one! Brewed with ancho chili peppers, cacao nibs and cinnamon sticks, you get huge chocolate, vanilla and pepper that blend perfectly into the mix. If you happen to be in St. Louis on November 9th, make sure to hit the brewery for the release of this beer, plus a variant brewed with Sump Coffee.
Deschutes Brewery: The Abyss
This cult favorite imperial stout from Bend, Oregon’s Deschutes is brewed with licorice and molasses, then partially aged in French oak and bourbon barrels. Deschutes is big on aging their beers, and not just before you get them — Abyss has a best-after date usually about a year after it's bottled, but don’t let this deter you from drinking it right now. Grab another to age and see how the vanilla, cherry, chocolate, coffee and oak flavors develop over time.
Goose Island Brewing Company: Gillian and Halia
Already known for their limited wine barrel-aged “Three Sisters” sour series comprised of Juliet, Lolita and Madam Rose (Sophie should also be mentioned here but it’s not quite so limited), Gillian and Halia now make their debut. Gillian is brewed with strawberries, honey and white pepper and Halia is brewed with fresh Georgia peaches, which should make for two of the more interesting saisons in recent memory.
Goose Island Brewing Company: Bourbon County Brand Barleywine
If you like the Bourbon County series, this is your year, my friend! Goose Island’s has five barrel-aged heavyweights, including the original stout. Though the four stout entries are all worth getting, we’re extremely excited about this barleywine version — a modified version of their now classic King Henry (sans the Pappy 23 barrels). It clocks in at a powerful 15% and is aged in third-use bourbon barrels that previously held bourbon and then Bourbon County Stout.
Stone Brewing Company: Crime & Punishment
Stone isn’t shy about specifically telling you how much ass their beer kicks; in fact, on most bottles there is a specific description of how the beer is going to kick your ass. These are actually two beers, one called Crime and the other, punishment that will light a fire under said rear. The base beer for Crime is Double-Dry Hopped Lukcy Basartd Ale (you read that correctly) and the base beer for Punishment is Double Bastard, both are aged in oak barrels with chili peppers added. There are 15 peppers added to these incredibly hot ales but if you’re a chili enthusiast you only need to know it has Ghost, Black Naga and Moruga Scorpion peppers to make this a must-buy.
New Belgium Brewing Company: Wild2 Dubbel
It’s always exciting when an exotic new fruit makes an appearance in beer. New Belgium harnessed the power of schisandra, a spicy tropical fruit, along with trappist yeast and brettanomyces. New Belgium does a great job with Belgian-style ales and their use of fruit also yields excellent brews, so this should be an excellent addition to their great Lips of Faith series lineup.
Evil Twin Brewing: Even More Denmark
Evil Twin has created quite the evil repertoire behind their Even More Jesus Imperial Stout and Even More Evil, sour wild ale brewed with Goose Island. Now their evil ways are taking it back to head brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø’s homeland, Denmark. This beer is a collaboration with Brooklyn-based chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt of Chocopologie, which uses their chocolate in the stout. Chocopologie will also be releasing a chocolate made from this beer, so look out for that and better yet, try it as a pairing!
More beers to drink this fall on Food Republic: