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Seasonal Craft Brews That Will Quench Your Thirst for Fall

by Lisa Diggs

Maybe it’s the wealth of OKtoberfests, the flavors of fall, or just the demand to wash wings down with a hearty brew while watching football, but autumn certainly ushers in an abundance of new brews from which to choose. Check out some of Michigan’s most appreciated beers of fall.

Pure Michigan Autumn IPA (ABV 5.6%): Short’s Brewing Company-Elk Rapids
Description: New to the scene this season, Short’s partnered with Pure Michigan to introduce this India Pale Ale as a celebration of fall and the craft brewing industry. It’s made with all Michigan ingredients. Suppliers include Empire Malting Co., Great Lakes Malting Company, Valley View Farms, MI Local Hops, Michigan Hop Alliance, and Craft Cultures. Short’s describes it as straw-colored and slightly hazy, with slightly sweet, fruity, and malty flavors that are immediately followed with a pleasant hoppiness that finishes dry.

Pure Michigan Autumn IPA (ABV 4.5%): Short’s Brewing Company-Elk Rapids
Description: Take one of the most popular flavor profiles of the craft cocktail scene and turn it into a brew and you get Mule Beer. Like the popular Moscow Mules it is brewed with lime and ginger and has a hazy copper color not to different from the metal mugs that typically hold its cocktail counterpart. The pronounced flavors of ginger and lime are accompanied by a biscuit-like maltiness and a creamy body. Expect a spicy ginger kick at the end.

Chubby Squirrel (ABV: 5.5%): Right Brain Brewery-Traverse City
Description: There are some sweet components to balance out the spice in this flavorful fall entry. It is brewed with real Madagascar vanilla beans, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and lemon peel. Spice aromas balance out notes of toffee, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Harvest Ale (ABV 7.6%): Founders Brewing Company-Grand Rapids
Description: With the hops harvest recently behind us, this popular seasonal favorite is made from wet hops, which are cones that are used within hours of being picked by local growers. Acting quickly, Founders then loads up these wet hops to turn them into their Harvest Ale. It is an aromatic and bright IPA bursting with fresh pine, melon and citrus notes.

Underground Mountain Brown (ABV 11.9%): Founders Brewing Company-Grand Rapids
To create this sophisticated brew, Founders took its imperial brown ale, combined it with some earthy Sumatra coffee, and then aged it in caves below Grand Rapids for a year. The brewers believe the variety of malts used complement the bold Sumatra coffee perfectly, while the time spent immersed in oak created layers of depth and complexity.

Ichabod (ABV 4.5%): New Holland Brewing Company-Holland
Description: Thanks to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and its Headless Horseman, the name Ichabod Crane, has become synonymous with Halloween. Similarly, New Holland’s Ichabod has become one of the best know Michigan brews of the fall. It combines malted barley and real pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg that pairs well with poultry, root vegetables and even dessert.

Oktoberfest Lager (ABV 5.27%): Frankenmuth Brewery-Frankenmuth
Description: Märzen is a lager that originated in Bavaria. In fact, it is the beer traditionally served at Oktoberfest, so it only seems right that Frankenmuth Brewery produce one. In 1996, Frankenmuth’s Oktoberfest became the first to operate with the blessing of the original festival in Munich. Brewed in true Bavarian fashion, this Oktoberfest Lager uses German noble hops and four different malts to create its trademark copper color and flavor, which lends itself well to hearty food pairings like steak, burgers, and pork.

Blocktoberfest (ABV 6.1%): Atwater Brewing Company-Detroit
Description: Atwater also offers a German-style Märzen at this time of year. Theirs exhibits a bready, nuttiness with a clean, light sweetness amidst a background of bitter hops. The name not only belongs to the brew, but to a huge party the brewery throws to celebrate its arrival.

Pumpkin Spice Latte (ABV 6%): Atwater Brewing Company-Detroit
Description: Atwater has seen American’s passion for the Pumpkin Spice Latte and raises with a beer version. It features three different malts to create a combination of walnut and honey flavors with a little extra sweetness. The sweet is counter-balanced with Pumpkin Spice and Coffee Extracts, which are custom-designed locally for a truly unique taste sensation.

Screamin’ Pumpkin (ABV 5%): Griffin Claw Brewing-Rochester
Description: The pumpkin is all real and roasted in this delightful amber ale. Gently accented with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger, the result is flavorful without being overly spicy. It is lightly hopped.

Violin Monster (ABV 9.5%): Arbor Brewing Company-Ann Arbor
Description: The werewolf on the label is indicative of more than just the season. Legend has it there is a major werewolf area stretching from mid-Germany into the Netherlands and Belgium. Inspired by that concept, this beer is a strong, dark, spice ale using ingredients from those regions. It’s brewed with Midnight Wheat, warming spices, and a hint of brown sugar. Beware of the ABV, which may attack like a werewolf if you’re not careful.

Arabicadabra (ABV 5.5%): Bell’s-Kalamazoo
Description: If you can’t decide between beer and java then this concoction will truly be magical to you. It’s brewed with a cold coffee extract made at the brewery using a combination of Nicaraguan and Sumatra coffee beans with lactose added to create creaminess. The result is a lot smoother than attempts to pronounce the name. Imagine if a mocha milkshake met a beer, this coffee stout be the product of their union. 

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