October is a good month for beer. The summer season is officially in the rearview mirror. Oktoberfest is in full swing. Pumpkin ales fill the shelves. And winter ale season is a short month away. This all makes October a great bridge between the light lagers of summer and the hefty alcohol and spice bomb ales of winter.
The eight beers below are some of our favorites hitting the market right now. Some of these beers are going to be lining shelves from sea-to-shining-sea while others will be a little harder to source without some serious effort. Still, when is a journey to find great beer ever taken in vain?
ENJOY BY 10.31.19 IPA — STONE BREWING
Stone’s “Enjoy By” series is always a treat when you’re in the mood for a specialty seasonal beer. This October’s drop is a go-big-or-go-home IPA that’ll knock you on your ass if you’re not careful.
The 9.4 percent ABV double IPA opens with a rush dank pine resin and overripe peaches. Tropical fruits cut through the dankness as whispers of sweet malts arrive to counterpoint those hops. The peach comes back into play as the hops bring a hint of bitterness before a dry finish.
VOODOO RANGER ATOMIC PUMPKIN ALE — NEW BELGIUM
We’re in the depth of pumpkin ale season. The fruity, spicy beers are the perfect transition from the lighter days of summer, edging towards the heavier beer months of winter. Voodoo Ranger’s Atomic Pumpkin Ale is a great beer to indulge in as the leaves turn and the weather demands a sweater and rain boots.
This year’s Special Release opens with a cinnamon-heavy pumpkin pie note. Allspice and nutmeg cut in alongside a burst of chipotle and ancho chilis with a nod to Red Hot candies. The sweet, bready malts cut through the spice, amping up the pumpkin fruit earthiness. Finally, an echo of bitter hops kicks in to bring a creamy smooth finish to the ale.
SAID IN ZEST — ELYSIAN BREWING
Fall doesn’t always have to be about the heady pumpkin ales. Elysian just dropped a bottle that’ll let you hold on to the halcyon days of summer with Said in Zest. The light lager is amped up with hundreds of pounds of grapefruit zest, giving this on a lip-smacking refreshing feel.
You’re met with a bouquet of citrus the moment you pop that cap. Grapefruit leads the way, which leads into a mellower lemon before a sweeter tangerine note comes in. The sweetness of the malts match up with the latter and create a sort of orange cake echo. Interestingly, that malt has an almost scotch feel to it on the finish, giving this lager an extra layer of depth.
EL CEDRO — JESTER KING BREWERY
El Cedro is fall in a bottle. The Belgian ale is brewed with piney hops, then Spanish cedar is added during aging, and, finally, the beer is bottle conditioned with Brettanomyces yeast. The beer is then left unfiltered and unpasteurized to preserve all those nuances in their original, alive form.
Funky yeast, wet cedar boughs, wildflowers, and citrus greet you on this sip. The dank hopiness acts as a solid counterpoint to the sour yeasts and mild malts. The oak adds a creamy under-layer to the resin, funk, wood, and florals with a citrus line tying everything together.
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN! — BELL’S BREWERY
Bell’s Brewery’s latest Leaves Of Grass series just hit shelves. This year’s one-off is a German schwarzbier, or dark lager, called O Captain! My Captain! The India-style pale lager is a one-of-a-kind from master brewers and worth hunting down this month.
The beer opens hints of red berries and citrus. Roasted cocoa and earthy hops come in alongside pine and bready, sweet malts. Bitterness, grassiness, orange, and dark chocolate lead towards a dry, strong finish.
BERRY SOUR — ALASKAN BREWING
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Alaskan’s foray into the world of sour ales is a masterful addition to the world of American sours. Berry Sour is brewed with cranberries to add an extra layer of tartness and sweet depth to the already well-executed ale.
The beer is a crisp sip that leans into the tartness from the opening. There is a sense of the lacto-creaminess on the front end that’s cut by the berry tartness. The malts come in with a nice dose of sweet bread notes. Whispers of earthy hops linger in the background of the bright berry tartness as the fruity and creamy finish arrives.
COFFEE EUGENE — REVOLUTION BREWING
Rainy days call for a big coffee porter to pep you up as grey skies roll in. Rev Brewing’s Coffee Eugene is the perfect beer to add a little skip to your step, even on the rainiest days. Roasted whole bean coffee is added to the beer and a cold-aging method is used to amp up the aromatic oil extraction into the beer.
The beer opens big with notes of roasted coffee, fatty nuts, and toasted malts. The darkest chocolate comes into play with an almost sour note. The bitterness is drawn from the coffee here with little hop bitterness present. Hits of rich molasses come into play alongside an almost burnt brown sugar feel. The sip ends bitter, sweet, and full of coffee boldness.
INTERNATIONAL PICK OF THE MONTH: CRUMBLE — DEEP DARK WOOD BREWING COMPANY, YUKON
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We’re open 12-6 today, and 12-5 tomorrow! Oh, and 2020 memberships are available starting today at the brewery, and online very soon! #brettanomyces #lactobacillus #mixedfermentation #openfermentation #barrelaged #shoplocal #supportsmallbusiness #yukoncraftbeer #whitehorseyukon
Okay, this one you’re 100 percent going to have to travel for. Still, if you find yourself in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, there’s only one brewery to track down: Deep Dark Wood Brewing Company. This is a one-brewer operation that uses the highest quality brewing and aging tactics with wild ingredients from the forests of the Yukon integrated into each beer. In short, you cannot get this beer anywhere else on earth.
Deep Dark Wood’s about to release their Crumble. The golden sour ale is spiked with fresh raspberries, wild rhubarb, and Tonka beans. The latter is a type of wild pea that has a vanilla feel with hints of tobacco. Given Deep Dark Wood’s reputation for brewing some of the most interesting and well-crafted beers in Canada, much less the Yukon, this will be a must-have for all the beer nerds this fall.