Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fall Beers That Make You Wanna Holler!

Fall Beers That Make You Wanna Holler!
Romancing the Brew By Ale Sharpton
Victory's HopDevil IPA is one of the best in the business.
They posted this flick I took on Thanks guys! 
(I originally did this on my boy Eric's website,, but by popular demand, I am posting it on this site as well. Enjoy these fall brews while they are still in stock!)

It’s autumn, baby! The hot months of summer have ended and so have the dominance of wheat beers served with citrus fruit slices and ice cold, low alcohol “light” pilsners that are slammed by the case to combat sweat-inducing summer afternoons.

Stores across the U.S. are making way for those slow-sipping, fragrant liquid masterpieces that encompass everything from nutty flavors to pumpkin and even grapefruit. I love this time of year for beer and so should you, so to help with the transition to the cooler months from October through the New Year, check these domestic lovelies that will surely broaden your horizons.


Pumpkin Ales

Pumpkins, the monstrous orange squash that’s popularly sacrificed, hollowed out and wasted for the sake of one night, get a lot more respect in the beer world. Brewers love the pumpkins’ semi-sweet properties and, when combined with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and other spices, they make some pretty tasty, complex beers with very little bitterness.Alcohol By Volume: Usually in the 5 to 6% area, but craft breweries are starting to make sweeter, more potent brews that reach up to the 8% level.

You gotta try…Dogfish Head’s Punkin 
out of Delaware gets a lot of love nationwide (7%), andSamuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale, the country’s leading craft brewer, is pretty decent (5.7%) for a beer that’s everywhere, but I recommend tasting the sweeter, stronger “imperial” pumpkin ales like Heavy Seas’ The Great Pumpkin (8%), and my favorite,Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale (8%), to get the full range of what this style can deliver.

Amber, Red and Brown Ales
Their names come primarily from their color, and brown ales and ambers emulate the natural changes of the fall.). These styles usually have more emphasis on malt and also win tasters over with their flavors of lightly roasted nuts and slight sweetness. The red ales tend to be alittle more hoppy (floral, bitter and/or citrusy).

Alcohol By Volume: Mostly in the 4-7% range, although some imperials (stronger versions) are out there as well.

You gotta try…Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar out of Oregon is a flavorful goody (6.2%); Bell’s Best Brown Ale (5.8%), Brooklyn Brown Ale (5.5%), Anderson Valley’s Boont Amber (5.8%) and the Fat Tire Amber Ale (5.2 %) are very respectable; and Tampa Bay’s Cigar City Brewingflourishes on this style but they are hard to find, so if you do have a way to get the Maduro Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown Ale (5.5%), get it!

On the red ale tip, Stone’s Levitation (4.4%) is light in alcohol but not in flavor; the Green Flash Hop Head Red (6%) continues to garner critical acclaim; and the Lagunitas Censored is excellently balanced (5.9%). Taking things to the extreme, Lagunitas’ Lucky 13 (8.56%) andTerrapin’s Big Hoppy Monster out of Georgia (8.3%) do it big in bold flavor, strength and aroma, the way I like ‘em!

India Pale Ales (IPAs)

American IPAs are typically the most bitter, impactful and aromatic of them all ranging from piney to citrus thanks to the concentration of hops. They are also extremely popular to the point that there is a cult of dedicated sippers called “Hop Heads.” I am one of them (as you can see from all of the choices I listed below) because of their complexity and ability to arouse all of the senses during consumption, but the key to a great IPA is balancing the sweet with bitter. Although they are now produced year-round to answer the demand, stronger versions including those that have been aged in oak barrels tend to surface during the last quarter. You gotta love it! Hops Display Dennis ByronAlcohol By Volume: Alcohol varies. In fact, like stouts, this style is one of the most broad in the alcohol range going from around the mid 5s all the way to the double digits in strength. The stronger IPAs (called “imperial” or “double”) are typically robust, maltier, sweeter and thicker. One of the best ways to illustrate these differences is with Dogfish Head’s IPAs. They have the big-selling 60 Minute (6%), 90 Minute (9%) and the hard-to-find (and illegal in some states due its whopping potency) 120 Minute (a whopping 18%) IPAs that range in ABV, texture, color and sweetness.

You gotta try…Way too many to list here, but regarding availability, I recommend easing your way into IPA land by tasting the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (not categorized as an IPA but it’s a great introduction before going for the more aggressive, official IPA styles) and following it up with their legit Torpedo IPA (7.2%). You can’t lose with Pennsylvania’s Victory Hop Devil(6.7%); the SweetWater IPA puts ATL on the map (6.7%); Avery’s Maharaja (10.3%) andSouthern Tier’s Unearthly (10%) out of Lakewood. NY rock the house; Colorado’s Great Divide’s Hercules Double IPA (10%) is strong in every way; anything by Lagunitas (one of my favorite breweries) including the Maximus (8.2) and Hop Stoopid (8%) are winners; the Heavy Seas Loose Cannon reppin’ Maryland (7.25%) does the job; Stone, who consistently takes hopping to the extreme, has the Ruination (7.7%); Michigan’s Founders Brewery always delivers so try their Double Trouble (9.4%); and one of the best beers, period, is the Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale (7.1%).

By the way, there is annually a race to the nearest store to get the extremely limited Bell’s HopSlam (10%) before they run out. It’s that good.

So folks, enjoy these brews, drink them cool instead of ice cold to truly appreciate all of their characteristics (especially aroma and taste), and raise them up as the leaves descend. I am sure there will be a few that will “make you wanna holler” once you get your sip on so find one…or two…or three that fit your palate. And yes, there are hundreds of others, but this is surely a great start on your way to beer-sipping bliss.

Ale says…
Hannibal Matthews_Ale Sharpton-14
What am I pouring?
Bell's HopSlam, one of the most
gangtser IPAs in the world!
  • Look for the bomber sizes (usually 22-ounce bottles) of the various beer styles because those are usually limited edition specialty brews that really demonstrate how good, creative and vast beer flavors can be.
  • I strongly recommend you go to specialty beer bars with a lot of taps. That way, you can order a few “tastes” for free (usually) before purchasing a whole one. Since many of them are seasonal, get an idea of what your palate calls for before especially those “one-and-done” ales are gone!

Got questions? Ale has the answers. Just hit him up in the comments below!


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