Autumn often signals deserted docks, patios, balconies, and most other outdoor venues that might be your favourite place to have a pint. When October rolls around, though, brewmasters feel some form of rejuvenation. But it isn’t just the changing colours or a Thanksgiving turkey that have them brimming with anticipation; it’s the scent and amber glow of an autumn brew.
Fall beers can be fruity, sweet, grainy, spicy or smokey. The aim is to find a beer that encapsulates the colours and scents of the harvest season. It means considering your preference based on the meal you’re having, and finding a brew with several layers of flavour that can be enjoyed slowly.
Below is a list of six of the best there is to offer. You’ve got the rest of the season to give each one a shot. You may find that beer isn’t necessarily best enjoyed in summer.
Muskoka Brewery, Bracebridge, ON: Muskoka Harvest Ale
Now in its fourth year, Muskoka Brewery’s autumn masterpiece uses a variety of local ingredients. Harvest Ale’s colour (brown with an amber tinge) makes you think fall before you check your calendar, and its flavours and aromas combine caramel, toffee, and citrus fruit. It comes in a hefty 750 ml. bottle that you should share or take your time with to get your money’s worth. For more information and where to find it: Muskoka Brewery
Beau’s Brewery, Vankleek Hill, ON: Night Marzen Oktoberfest Lager
Beau’s Brewery’s fall concoction is an organic twist on Oktoberfest’s flavourful Bavarian roots. Marzen, Beau’s only regularly produced lager, has a sweet, grainy malt emphasized by its red shade. The fall brew was awarded third prize at 2009’s National Organic Beer Championship (U.S.). For more information and where to find it: Beau’s Brewery
Cannery Brewing, Penticton, B.C.: Cannery Squire Scotch Ale
Squire Scotch Ale is for the seasoned beer and spirits drinkers that will appreciate a taste often described as strong and smokey. Penticton, B.C.’s Cannery brewery’s beer is all natural, and their particularly unique Scotch Ale was honoured at the 2010 Canadian Brewing Awards. For more information and where to find it: Cannery Brewing
Mill Street Brewery, Toronto, ON: Tankhouse Ale
Tankhouse has become a classic all-season beer in Canada, but its scent and flavour are ideal for the autumn season. The Copper-red pale ale is brewed with five different malts, and tastes great with a heavy, carnivorous meal. For more information and where to find it: Mill Street Brewery
Black Creek Historic Brewery, Toronto, ON: Black Creek Pumpkin Ale
Black Creek Historic Brewery’s brewmasters have come as close to turning a slice of pumpkin pie into beer as anyone before them. The seasonal brew has hints of cinnamon, ginger and, of course, pumpkin (a real pumpkin is used in the brew kettle). As with all beers brewed at Black Creek, the ale’s ingredients are based on a mid-1800s recipe. For more information and where to find it: Black Creek Historic Brewery
Anchor Brewing Company, San Francisco, CA: Anchor Steam Beer
The only American beer on this list is available year-round, but it is particularly worth trying out in the fall. If it didn’t say where it was brewed on the bottle, you’d probably suspect it was of the Bavarian ilk based on its deep amber colour and creamy head. Spicy, citrus flavours are the differentiator, and it’s also deceivingly light. For more information and where to find it: Anchor Brewing
Get more suggestions for great craft brews with this article on beer trends.