Mild temperatures over the last few weeks have made us mostly forget that it’s fall. Colder weather is creeping in, though, and as fall ends and winter begins, our palates start to change to anticipate the coming season of rich foods, and we look for beers that make us feel comfy and warm. Here are a few styles that fit the bill.
Stouts and porters come to many people’s minds for this time of year, and they’re a natural choice, with their dark, malty goodness. The color and flavor come from roasting the malted barley, much like coffee beans are roasted. Nearly every brewery has a stout or porter to offer, but for those who take their stouts seriously, the imperial stout is the way to go.
Named after the stouts English brewers would brew for the Russian Imperial Court in the 19th century, imperial stouts (or “imperial” anything) are made by doubling or tripling the ingredients to create an
extremely full-bodied, potent beer.
TRY: Oskar Blues, Ten Fidy. Named after its hefty 10.5% ABV. Coffee and chocolate dominate, and the booze is clearly there, but not at all overpowering. Loveland Aleworks, Imperial Stout. An even bigger 12.5% ABV. Coffee and chocolate with raisin, caramel, and slight licorice notes.
Odell made its mark on the craft brew scene with its version of a Scottish ale called 90 Shilling. The
shilling system is exclusive to Scottish beers and historically refers to the invoice or tax price of the beer. Scottish beers come in differing strengths, and the 160+ shilling level of the Scotch ale/Wee Heavy is king.In these beers, the wort is boiled for a long time, resulting in a very malty beer with high alcohol. Scotch ales also feature caramel with dark and dried fruit notes. In some ways there is no more perfect fall beer than a Scotch ale—no surprise, given they came from a country that barely gets warm or sees the sun.
TRY: Grand Lake, Plaid Bastard Strong Scotch Ale. 8.1% ABV. Full bodied smoked malt with dark fruits. Wiley Roots, William Wee Heavy. 8.1% ABV. Sweet malt flavor with plum, fig, and slight smoke notes.
-Belgian Strong Ale (Belgian Quad)-
For those who associate autumn with deep flavors of caramel, nuts, and dried fruit, Belgian strong ales are the Holy Grail. Also called Belgian Quad, this beer style is big on everything: nutty maltiness, yeast esters that add fruitiness, and, of course, high alcohol content. Technically known as a Belgian Strong Ale, the Belgian Quad was originally developed by Trappist monks. The “quad” designation (as well as “dubbel” and “tripel”) was used by the monks to refer to the strength of the beer, but it has little to do with the brewing process.
TRY: Avery, The Reverend. 10.0% ABV. Very complex beer featuring hints of black cherry and molasses, finishing with slight spice. High Hops, The Noble One. 10.6% ABV. Named for its use of Noble hops. Sweet Caramel and raisin notes.
Multiple gold medal winner.