Craft Brews to Try Before They ‘Fall’ Out of Season

Dogfish-Punkin-2014So many times when we think of beer, we forget all the time and effort that is put into crafting a perfect brew. Beer is an artful crafting of different hops, malt and yeast. Craft beers that differ by season have become trendy. Here are some of the best brews of the fall.

Each season specializes in a type of beer. Summer is a time of pale ales and citrus notes. Summer ales are refreshing after being in the sun all day long. Fall beers tend to be darker and warmer. Fall is home to pumpkin flavored brews, darker ales, and best of all, fresh hops. Autumn is harvest season for hops so these brews only come out once a year while the hops are still fresh.

Matt Harmon, a communication instructor, said, "Craft beers are exploding right now. There are people that love to experiment and check out the different beers the industry is offering right now. Culture is becoming larger by the day because customers are learning that they can really find something that fits their taste and enjoy having a beer now more than ever."

For those of the legal drinking age, to enjoy these craft beers it is important to know how to correctly taste a beer. It is easy to assume all beers the same unless they say there is an added flavor twist but that is not the case. Every type has its own unique color, scent and taste.

When smelling a beer you are looking for notes of malt, hops and yeast in the beer. Malt aromas in a lager smell more like grains and corn while stouts tend to have more dark roasted coffee or dark chocolate accents. Hops give fall beers that citrusy, floral or grassy smell/ Yeast smells fruity or sulfurous.

As important as smell is to your beer tasting so is it's appearance the lighter the beer the more it is like a lager and the darker it gets it is more like a stout. The head of the beer is also just as important, ranging in color and density.

Once you have looked at the colors it is time to taste. Give the beer a few sips to really taste all the flavors. Consider the malt (sweet) and hop (bitter) while taking into account the level of acidity. As you debate these flavors try to put names to them. No word is too obscure. Coffee, molasses, biscuits, cloves,'s all fair game.

The finishing touches to your tasting is the mouth feel and after taste. Swish the beer around in your mouth to really immerse yourself in the flavor and texture of it. Is it thick, chewy, light, airy, fizzy? Whatever word comes to mind first, say that one. After you swallow take a minute to revel in the after taste. Is it bitter? Sweet? Disappointing? Or the best thing you've ever tasted?

Now that you know how to taste these unique autumn brews you are ready. One of the top rated fall beers is Founders Brewing Co.'s Harvest Ale. Based out of Michigan this Ale averages 195 calories per bottle and 6.5 percent alcohol. With it's superbly fresh, sweet hop taste and added hint of tangerine and light grass notes this is a unique brew not to be missed in the fall months.

If pumpkin flavored anything makes you cringe Founders Harvest Ale might be a good option to try.

Mike Kulik, a senior political science major, said, "I dislike fall beers because I dislike anything pumpkin. I stick with Boston Lagers all year round." Although it may seem that anything fall edition must have a pumpkin flavor, this is not the case. Most focus on the fresh hops over pumpkin flavors.

Another option for non-pumpkin lovers is Maryland's Heavy Sea's Märzen Beer. Märzen is German for March, when this particular beer is brewed. It is then aged until the fall.

Brewed with crystal malt, there is a hint of sweetness in the beer with a somewhat summer taste to it. At 172 calories in a bottle and 5.25 percent alcohol, this beer is one of a kind.

Another classic fall brew is Sam Adams Oktoberfest. Choosing to forgo any pumpkin flavor it is a staple in any best fall beers list. This beer blends five roasts of malt to give it sweetness with a hint of caramel and toffee. It is darker in color than other fall brews and the bitterness comes from the Noble Bavarian hops used to make it.

Nicole Rubino, a health sciences and physical education major, said, "My favorite fall beer is Defiant's Oktoberfest. Defiant is a brewery located in upstate New York, so I like it because it is a local brewery and it is so different from the generic Sam Adam's Oktoberfest. It is also super affordable!"

If you are looking for those pumpkin flavors in your beer, look no further than Elysian Brewing Company's The Great Pumpkin Ale. Colored a deep copper, it is brewed with an intense pumpkin sugar and spice blend that does not taste artificial.

Another great fall beer that adds a slight pumpkin kick is Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale. Based out of Delaware, "Dogfish does not try to cram as much "fall" into the bottle as possible," said Peter Chace, a senior chemistry major.

"Punkin Ale doesn't try terribly hard to be what it is, a brown ale with a round sweetness and light tones of pumpkin that don't overpower the pallet with excessive spice, but don't leave one unsatisfied. The beer's rounded out with malt undertones. While most people laugh at pumpkin beers, Punkin Ale manages to prove them wrong," Chace said

With so many different varieties out there, it may seem like there is not enough time to try all the great varieties. However, these will only be here for a limited time, so taste them before the next seasons' beers come out.

Go grab a fall beer before they run out. And remember, drink responsibly.