With September behind us, summer is officially over and we’re in the full fall swing. Even Oktoberfest would have ended this coming Sunday, bringing about a world of hefty stouts and all the pumpkin beer you can drink until the holidays hit in less than two months.
October tends to be a good month for beer. A fair amount of winter warmers are being released this month — though, we’ll wait until November and December to call those out. In the meantime, there are plenty of darker ales, funky IPAs, and crisp lagers around to help you adjust to the change in weather and falling leaves.
Hopefully, the eight beers we’re giving love to this month will pique your interest and inspire you to explore exciting expressions made near you or sold at your closest bottle shop. The picks below are regional craft beer releases from breweries that we vouch for (we weren’t able to taste them all this month because of the continued pandemic, so we’re offering tasting notes from the brewers where necessary).
PACIFIC NORTHWEST DROP: Deschutes Rip City Lager
Style: Adjunct Lager
Oregon’s Deschutes has been consistently putting out quality craft brews since the 1980s. So, when there’s a new Deschutes release, craft beer lovers (in the PNW especially) pay attention. Rip City Lager is that new release that also happens to celebrate the Portland Trailblazers and the nickname the team brought to the city.
The beer itself is made with Pilsner malt and unmalted wheat and hopped with a combo of Lemondrop, Crystal, and Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops.
Tasting Notes (from the brewer):
Cheers to Rip City with this light, lemony lager that’s crisp and crushable.
SOUTHWEST DROP: Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA
Style: American IPA
Okay, we have one holiday-themed beer. But since this IPA is made to be drunk fresh, it’s best to start now. This well-hopped IPA is a departure from the heavier, darker, and spiced winter warmers that usually dominate the last couple of months of the year. It’s a distinctly American version of an end-of-the-year beer.
This West Coast IPA is a long-time favorite of many West Coast denizens. The dank pine resin hops are countered by a refreshing lemon zest brightness. The caramelized malts create a solid backbone of bready sweetness that has an almost buttery edge. The whole sip ties together nicely with a rich mouthfeel that entices you back for more.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN DROP: Jagged Mountain Sticky Icky
Style: West Coast IPA
Head brewer Alyssa Thorpe out at Jagged Mountain in Denver is doing great work. Her Sticky Icky is a throwback West Coast IPA that amps up its brew with 100 pounds of Chinook and Cascade hops per batch.
Tasting Notes (from the brewery):
Big notes of citrus, pine, and grapefruit dominate with a subtle touch of malt sweetness to balance it out.
SOUTHERN DROP: Family Business Beer Co. Hamilton
Style: Pale Ale
Dripping Spring’s Family Business Brewing Co. and head brewer Nate Seale continually make some of the most interesting and well-crafted beers in the Austin and wider Hill Country area. If you’re nearby, it’s definitely worth dropping in and stocking up on Seale’s subtle pale ale.
Tasting Notes (from the brewer):
Apricot, peach, and tropical citrus aroma. Bright, hoppy, and crisp. A focus on late hop additions provides a lot of juicy flavor while keeping bitterness to a minimum.
MIDWEST DROP: Bell’s Best Brown Ale
Style: American Brown Ale
If hefty stouts are too much to face right now but you’re still looking for something a little bigger than a fizzy lager, then this brown ale is for you. Bell’s balances out the slightly roasted malts with an even layer of hoppiness that lets this beer feel like it has a body while still feeling light enough to drink more than one of.
Dark chocolate caramel malt greets you. Crusty bread mingles with more of those sweet, chocolate laden malts as a hint of pine resin and hops bitterness sneaks in late. The end is slightly dry — offer a lip-smacking sort of satisfaction.
NORTHEAST DROP: Allagash North Sky
Style: Belgian Stout
This isn’t necessarily a new release. It’s just a beer that just feels right for right now. The brew is a lighter stout that leans away from too much heaviness. The base is a matrix of barley, wheat, and oat malts that’s fermented with Belgian yeast. There’s a layer of Northern Brewer and Cascade hops, but they’re not the star of this show.
Bitter coffee and powdered dark chocolate kick around in the maltiness with a fruitiness and almost vanilla nature. The sip holds on to all that maltiness as a light touch of dried flowers mix with an almost campfire smoke backend. The sip has a weight to it but is light enough to keep drawing you back for more.
WILD CARD DROP: Upslope Spruce Tip IPA
Style: American IPA
It’s that time of year again and Spruce Tip IPA from Colorado’s Upslope is back on shelves. The brew has a subtle malt base that’s amped with Cascade and Simcoe hops. Then the beer is spiked with wild spruce tips from the Rockies to add a real wild and deep vibe to the beer.
Bright, alive pine shines on the nose with a hint of candied orange. The malts create a solid foundation for the spruce/forest feel of the beer. There’s an earthiness to the crisp sip that blends well with the piney nature of the spruce.
INT’L PICK OF THE MONTH: Cantillon Cuvée Saint-Gilloise
Another Zwanze Day has passed and a new Cantillon Lambic has arrived. But since you can’t really get their latest release, Brettrave (a beetroot steeped lambic), in the states yet, we’re calling out another Cantillon classic. The iconic Brussels brewery’s Cuvée Saint-Gilloise is the perfect entry point to Belgian sours, and you can get it in the U.S without too much trouble.
This two-year-old sour lambic is stepped with German Hallertau Mittelfrüh hops. This makes the beer a bridge between the hoppier German lagers and the sourer Belgian lambics.
There’s a clear sense of the acidic, minerally, and mildly funky unblended lambic with a flourish of floral hops on the nose. The hops really mellow the harsher edges of the tartness, with a mild pine nature next to a note of clove spice and orchard fruit. The fruitiness marries brilliantly to the bitter and floral nature of the hops, making this a fantastically refreshing sip of beer.