Because so many Michigan brewers incorporate local ingredients, it’s no wonder fall brings a wide array of new and short-term releases into the local beer realm. Some are themed around the season or Halloween, while others just take on a heavier, robust taste appropriate to the coming colder climate. Here is just a sampler of the many seasonal brews making appearances at this time of year.
Autumn Ale is designed to be a true to style London Extra Special Bitter. It has a medium body, amber color, and full flavor, with a nice balance of malty sweetness and floral hop bitterness.
Bloktoberfest is amber in color with a rich taste. In a nod to the German tradition of celebrating the harvest, this nectar is brewed with 100% German malt, and has a bit of a nutty flavor.
Breakfast Stout is a coffee lover’s dream beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head.
Brewer: Founders Brewing Company – Grand Rapids www.foundersbrewing.com
Cherry Stout is tinted ruby-black. Not surprisingly it gains its signature tartness from 100% Montmorency cherries grown in Michigan's Traverse City region. This tart cherry varietal serves as a counterpoint to the warm, dark chocolate notes from the malt bill. Lightly hopped for balance, Bell’s considers this stout one of the cornerstones of its stout portfolio.
Brewer: Bell’s Brewery – Kalamazoo www.bellsbeer.com
Chubby Squirrel is a spiced amber ale brewed with real Madagascar vanilla beans, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and lemon Peel. Medium-bodied and mildly sweet, it has what the brewer describes as a subtle boozy warmth. The name alone is worth a smile.
Cucurbita Smiles Pumpkin Spiced Lager uses a very eclectic recipe of grains that includes oats, biscuit malt and a very dark crystal malt to give the beer its unique burnt-orange hue. That’s combined with pure pumpkin puree, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon to create a pumpkin pie flavor. The final touch is real vanilla beans for dry hopping, which gives the finished beer its special character.
Brewer: Wolverine State Brewing Company – Ann Arbor www.wolverinebeer.com
Harvest Ale comes from a single batch, brewed once a year, combining some of America’s most flavorful and aromatic hop varieties: Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook and Nugget. The finishing hops are freshly harvested from Round Barn’s estate vines and added to the beer within hours of picking. The result is a complex showcase of hop flavor and aroma balanced against a malt presence that is supported by a firm but not overwhelming bitterness.
Hoodoo MidWest Wet Hop IPA is brewed with fresh from the farm Michigan hops for exceptional flavor. If you’re a fan of heavy hops this is the brew for you.
La Parcela is packed with real pumpkins, hints of spice and a gentle kiss of cacao that the brewer hopes will lighten your soul. Oddly enough for a long time Jolly Pumpkin didn’t make a brew from its namesake squash.
Lil’s Grumpkin Pumpkin Ale is also meant to harken up memories of a delicious pumpkin pie. The nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon that create this beer's delicious aroma are balanced against the malts and pumpkin in this recipe to give this spicy treat its charming flavor profile.
Oktoberfest is said to be brewed under German purity laws. In an homage to the heritage that has made “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” a popular tourist destination, this authentically-crafted Oktoberfest beer uses German noble hops and four different malts to create its trademark copper color and flavor.
Pumpkin Porter is a lusciously dark ale brewed with real pumpkins and spices. It has a nice balance of solid pumpkin taste and bitter malt, with a particularly noticeable hint of ginger.
Brewer: Witch’s Hat Brewery – South Lyon www.witchshatbrewing.com
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