Halloween candy is just fine, but come fall, I crave creamy, chocolatey oatmeal stout. These beers are silky-smooth thanks to the oaty addition, and the flavors tend to evoke roasty coffee with cream. They’re ideal for serving with all sorts of autumnal meals: roasted root vegetables and pork shoulder, slow-braised beef stews or chili. When dinner’s over, oatmeal stouts can stand in for coffee alongside whatever you’re offering for dessert.
I asked our crew of beer experts—all Certified Cicerones—about the best of the bunch. Which oatmeal stouts should you seek out? Here’s their list.
Maybe it’s the cooler, darker afternoons. Maybe it’s the wind, rain, and drifting foliage. One way or the other, fall makes us craft autumn beer styles—märzen, a.k.a. Oktoberfest, especially. But one oft-overlooked beer style (or collection of related styles, actually), is the humble brown ale.
Derived from English, German, and Belgian origins, the tawny colored ales get their color and malty backbone from roasted barley. They range in flavor from hoppy to sour to biscuit-bready and even nutty.
And read on for five recommendations of five different brown ale styles from around the country.
Cave-aged Gruyere + saison
Gruyere is a Swiss cheese, but a nap in a cave takes it beyond the holey slice you know with more must, earth and tang. An effervescent saison brings life to the bite with a stream of lemon flavors that play up the tang, though the beer’s subtle barnyard notes also nicely complement the cheese’s musty taste.
Brewers are always tinkering with new ways to get the most out of hops. It’s particularly noticeable this time of year, when breweries source just-picked “wet” or “fresh” hops from the annual hop harvest; they’re able to extract more oil, which boosts a beer’s hop flavor and aroma. These are called fresh hop IPAs, and are easily my favorite seasonal offerings. But, Sierra Nevada is working on a process that would bottle up that vivid once-a-year fresh hop character for year-round use: steam distilling.
Our earliest relatives, back in the Paleolithic period, were hunters and gatherers. They foraged for food and scavenged or hunted meat. It wasn’t until the Neolithic period, some 10,000 or so years ago, that people began to realize they didn’t necessarily have to search for their food or even chase after it but instead could grow it themselves.
Lagers outsell ales in the US by a landslide, but most folks are still a bit hazy on exactly what makes a lager, well, a lager. We are currently in a golden age of American-made lagers—and your local shop is packed full of delicious options—but let’s back up a bit and give you a little background.
First things first, the question of ale vs. lager boils down to three very simple principles: yeast strain, time, and temperature. Lager yeast is ‘bottom fermenting,’ which means that it makes its way through the beer-to-be, settling at the bottom of the batch, and preferring to work at colder temperatures. Lagers are then matured; again, at cold temperature for weeks or even months. The word ‘lager’ actually comes from the German word ‘lagern’ which means ‘to store,’ or ‘to lay down.’ Ales, on the other hand, use a top fermenting yeast that works best at warmer temperatures. Ales ferment much more quickly than lagers. A lager is not defined by its color, flavor, or alcohol percentage: just the yeast, time, and temperature.
Four new public hop varieties—Cashmere, Tahoma, Triple Pearl and Yakima Gold—were presented by the Hop Growers of America, the nonprofit association that represents U.S. hop growers.
Tahoma, also released by WSU, is a daughter of the Glacier variety and is described as “Cascade-like,” with notes of citrus, cedar, pine, floral, pepper and green melon. Triple Pearl, released in 2013 by USDA-ARS, is a triploid daughter of the Perle variety, and has notes of melon, orange citrus, resin, spice and pepper. Finally, Yakima Gold is a cross between Early Cluster and a native Slovenian male and is described as a “general purpose variety with smooth bitterness and a pleasant aroma.”
The Americans have the spunk, the vigor and a willingness to try anything. The Belgians have the art, the creativity and the tradition of world-class success. We’re not just talking about their looming World Cup matchup here. We’re also talking about beer.
The topic of beer and the World Cup is now bubbling around in the highest offices of the two nations.
Tomorrow’s the day. For those of you who follow the World Cup, you know what I’m talking about. For those of you who don’t, let me explain: Germany vs. United States. A win or a tie for Team USA will see us out of the “Group of Death” and into the knockout phase amongst the top 16 teams. A loss, and it comes down to goal differential between the winner (if there is one) of Portugal vs. Ghana. If that game ends in a tie, the U.S. goes through, no matter what happens against Germany.
From the end of Prohibition through the 1970s, the U.S. was mostly known for mass produced American Lager. Though light and refreshing, some saw these beers as nearly identical commodities, simply made by different producers.