The autumn season brings an abundance of things to the Great Lakes State – like fall colors, harvest festivals and a variety of pumpkin, apple and harvest-themed beer. While the recipes may be similar, there’s always a touch of something unique in each of these fall brews – including the originality of the names. West (ish) Michigan made harvest brews available for 2011 include:
Arcadia Ales, Battle Creek (www.arcadiaales.com)
Jaw-Jacker (6% ABV). Grandma’s pumpkin pie never tasted this good. This fall seasonal is a celebration of harvest time and the changing of the seasons. Using only the finest malted barley and a touch of wheat, Jaw-Jacker pours a brilliant orange-amber color with truly unique flavors. Although no pumpkins are actually used, a blend of nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon work with the malty flavors to create a bold flavor reminiscent of pumpkin pie. A light hop note balances out the beer nicely. This seasonal beer, available for a limited time on draft and in 6-pack, 12oz glass bottles, is a favorite for harvest festivals, Halloween parties and Thanksgiving dinner. It pairs well with boiled brisket with root veggies, roast duck or turkey, pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie, with vanilla bean ice cream.
Bell’s Brewery (www.bellsbeer.com)
Octoberfest Beer (5.5% ABV). Crafted as a flavorful session beer, Bell’s Octoberfest Beer is perfect for a week-long wedding celebration in Germany or the start of the Michigan autumn. As with Bell’s Lager Beer, Octoberfest spends a full six weeks maturing in the fermentation vessels. Unlike its cousin, Octoberfest trades in the assertive hop presence for a focus on a light caramel malt note, lending body without too much sweetness. Available on draft and in bottles.
Blue Cow Café (www.bluecowcafe.com)
Pumpkin Chunkin Ale (6.3% ABV). Simplistic grain background is accentuated by a few German specialty malts that compliment but do not overpower the earthy flavors that large quantities of 100% natural pumpkin bring to the party. Freshly ground nutmeg and whole cinnamon sticks are added to the boil to give the finished product a more well rounded easily identifiable fall harvest taste and aroma. This is not a sweet beer, this is not a spice beer, this not a niche beer, this is a beer in which every flavor lives in perfect balance and does not overstay its welcome. This is, simply put, a damn good beer.
Founders Brewing (www.foundersbrewing.com)
Harvest Ale. This liquid dream pours a hazy golden straw color with a white, two-finger head. Your first sip rewards you with a super juicy hop presence bursting with fresh citrus, then finishes to introduce toasted malt undertones.
Jolly Pumpkin, Dexter (www.jollypumpkin.com)
La Parcela (5.9% ABV). OK, so the joke was Jolly Pumpkin doesn’t brew a pumpkin beer! Well, now we do – just this one – No. 1 pumpkin beer. With hints of spice, and a gentle kiss of cacao to liven the soul, this oak-aged sour beer has real pumpkin added to the barrels during the aging process. An everyday easy way to fill your squashy quotient. Guess now folks will have to find something else to joke about!
Kuhnhenn Brewery (www.kbrewery.com)
All Hallows Ale (6.0% ABV). All Hallows Ale is made with 100lbs. of hand roasted Michigan pumpkins per 8-barrel batch, which intensifies the squash character of this beer. That is over 6 pounds of pumpkin in each 1/2 barrel. It has hot cinnamon and pumpkin aromas. This Ale is medium-bodied and only slightly sweet. Its many spices hit the palate first and finishes with roasty pumpkin goodness.
New Holland Brewing, Holland (www.newhollandbrew.com)
Ichabod (5.5% ABV). As fall brings color to our trees, a chill to our evenings and countless aromas of the changing season, we instinctively look for early harvest flavors on our plate and in our glass. Ichabod combines malted barley and real pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg in a delicious and inviting brew. It befits any autumnal adventure, including mysterious rides through the hollow, and pairs well with autumnal foods such as poultry and root vegetables. After dinner, try it with your favorite dessert. Available on tap and in bottles through November.
North Peak Beer (www.northpeakbeer.net)
Hooligan (5.5% ABV). Tired of having to decide between your favorite pumpkin beer and IPA? Well fret no more! Enter the Hooligan; your new favorite hoppy pumpkin beer. All the spicy pumpkin goodness one could ask for, brewed with real pumpkin and fresh spices, and did we mention hops!
Hoodoo (9.0% ABV). Brewed with fresh from the farm Michigan hops for flavor unparalleled. Given its strong malt backed spine we gave this Hoodoo hops to run. Starts hoppy, ends hoppy, and nuthin’ but hops in the middle – well OK, a little malt in the middle, too. Just enough to keep this Hoodoo from getting fussy, though, so not to worry – pretty much nuthin’ but hops.
Right Brain Brewery, Traverse City (www.rightbrainbrewery.com)
Pomona Pumpkin Ale (5.5% ABV). The Pomona Pumpkin Ale is certainly a no brainer, right brained, seasonal brew. It’s mashed with locally sourced fresh pumpkins and a secret blend of harvest spices. This isn’t your Grandma’s pumpkin pie! The base is a deliciously-smooth amber ale with a flavor the highlights the wonderful fall harvest. This brew should hit our pub in early to mid October depending on the harvest. How long it will last is up to the thirst of the people!
Short’s Brewing, Bellaire (www.shortsbrewing.com)
Funkin Punkin (5.6% ABV). A seasonal blend of pumpkin, spices, and carefully formulated ale. Notably aromatic of pumpkin pie, and the color of a light pastel brown, this brew is especially true of ale and comfortably consumable. Brewed with real pumpkin and real spice, it’s still very much a beer, but beautifully engineered with spice, pumpkin and beer balance.
Have you tried any of these new fall beers? What did you think?