It’s officially sweater-and-boots weather—the time of year when we Canadians revel in the beauty of the changing season, awestruck over nature’s glorious colour show spread across our hills.
You know what goes great with this majestic spectacle of coloured leaves and crisp, cool air?
Not just any lightweight summer beer. Not a beer you’d just gulp back after mowing the lawn, grateful for something—anything—cold and wet and thirst-slaking.
Nope—fall beers are a little more complicated, a little darker, a little more flavourful and, like fall itself, meant to be savoured slowly and carefully. Here are some great fall beers from local breweries that we think are worth trying. (Did we miss your favourite? Add it to the comments below.)
Dark & Stormy Night – Picaroons Traditional Ales, Fredricton, NB
OK, so technically this was a winter beer when it was first introduced—but no matter, winter will be here before we know it. This English Dunkel (“dunkel” means dark in German) White is a hybrid between a dark German lager and a traditional English ale, with lots of caramelly malty sweetness. Reviews have been mixed, but it’s worth a taste if you can get your hands on it.
Autumn in Vienna – Forked River Brewing Company, London, ON
This is a classic Oktoberfest lager, with a crispy sweetness that matches fall’s cooler temps nicely. A little meatier than a standard pilsner, this is definitely good fall drinking. Fire up the oom-pah-pah records and shout prost!
Vintage Ale – Collingwood Brewery, Collingwood, ON
Brewed with freshly harvested hops, Collingwood’s Vintage Ale is a seasonal treat made with local hops and wildflower honey. The beer is unfiltered, so pour carefully if you don’t want sediment in your glass—but know that the sediment is full of delicious yeasty-ness that adds to the drinking experience.
Paranormal Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, Barrie, ON
Whether you think pumpkin beers are delicious or an abomination, this one has a four-star rating on Beer Advocate, so Flying Monkeys must be doing something right. Pumpkin spice—cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice—is front-and-centre in the aroma, and gets stronger as the beer warms. (You can decide whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.) This is probably a good dessert beer, as it’s sweet and boozy—consider skipping the after-dinner port or sherry and just go straight to this.
Olde Deuteronomy Barley Wine – Alley Kat Beer, Edmonton, AB
This 10.3% American barleywine is caramelly, brown-sugary, and hugely, heartily flavourful—perfect for the changing seasons, as we cuddle up with stick-to-your-ribs comfort foods and drinks. Olde Deuteronomy—the name comes from T.S. Eliot’s poem—is only available for a limited time. If you’re in Alberta—or have a nice friend—get your hands on a bottle.
3 Fields Harvest Ale – Garrison Brewing Co., Halifax, NS
This strong American pale ale is made with 100 per cent Nova Scotia hops, and is a once-a-year production. The wet hops aren’t overpowering, but still definitely present.
Schadenfreude Pumpkin Oktoberfest – Parallel 49 Brewing, Vancouver, BC
Another pumpkin beer, but this one is light and refreshing, rather than sweet and heavy, so try this if you’re sceptical about the whole pumpkin-spice thing. And hey—if it’s a warm fall, you’ll still need to mow the lawn, so you might appreciate something a little on the lighter side.
What’s your favourite fall beer? Let us know!
Smoke and Mirrors Imperial Smoked Ale – Coal Harbour Brewing Company, Vancouver, BC
What better way to evoke autumn than with a crackling bonfire? Now you can extend the whole smoky experience with your beer as well. Coal Harbour’s Smoke and Mirrors smoked ale won first prize at the 2016 Canadian Brewing Awards in the smoked beer category, so you know it’s good. According to the brewery’s website, there’s a definite flavour of…well, smoke. And malt. There’s malt, too.
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