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    Eat & Swig

    Louisville Brewers Talk Fall Beer
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    Autumn brings a chill in the air which releases, in many, a craving for heartier beer. The colors of dying leaves (hazy oranges, dark browns and earthy reds drifting to the ground in rustling bunches) are mimicked in the hues of fall brews, in both flavor and color. Fall beers offer more robust and rich flavor to the palate than their crisper Summer counterparts: flavors become richer and ABVs get higher as the harvest demands. These autumnal brews come in many tastes and variations, from malty brown ales to fresh hop offerings.

    We asked a few local brewers (Amelia Pillow and Sam Cruz of Against the Grain, Rick Stidham of Akasha Brewing Company and Phillip Dearner of Goodwood Brewing) to give us their take on autumn brews and their picks for Louisvillians.

    Fresh Hop

    “Fresh Hop Beers are like the goodbye kiss of the summer,” says Amelia Pillow, Brewer at Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse (AtG).

    Having spent previous brewing years in Oregon, Pillow is eager to return to the nostalgia of the fresh hop season. “September means hop harvest, driving out to the farm in the early morning to help pull bins laden with hop vines off the trucks and loading them into the pickers.  It's all metal fingers, conveyors, blowers and, at the end, a giant cascading waterfall of green hop flowers onto the drying floor. The smell is otherworldly. You take your sack and fill it up with hops straight from the fields, drive back to the brewery and toss those suckers in.”

     

    Image Courtesy of Shutterstock/jeka84
    Unlike hops used during the rest of the brewing season, fresh hops are more resinous. They have a “delicate, soft fruitiness and floral character,” says Pillow. Fresh hops lack bitterness, too, which gives them “vibrant, soft, luscious flavor that is totally fleeting.” 

    Hop ‘n’ Fresh Out the Kitchen” is Against the Grain’s fresh hop beer. It was made with hops picked from Hop Head Farms in Michigan. According to Pillow, because fresh hops are so delicate, “these beers don’t keep long,” including “Hop ‘n’ Fresh Out the Kitchen”. “We’re about out at the pub and distributed only a few kegs around Louisville,” says Pillow. You better “hop” on over to ATG before it “hops” out. Too much? I “hop” not.

     

    Oktoberfest/Märzen

    If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard 50 times this Autumn season. Everything, everywhere is Oktoberfest and there’s no shame in that game. Oktoberfest, also known as Märzen, are undoubtedly the most popular fall time beer, alongside pumpkin ales. 

    “Oktoberfest (Marzen) is a fall classic, and one of my personal favorite styles. If anything tastes like fall, that’s it,” says Rick Stidham from Akasha Brewing Company. He suggests, in no particular order, Monnik Oktoberfest, Goodwood Oktoberfest, Ayinger Festbier, and Weihenstephaner Festbier.


    “It’s history, lederhosen and busty ladies in dirndle with fists full of mugs and singing drunkenly with a room full of strangers, what’s not to like?,” says Amelia Pillow. Her Oktoberfest picks include, Ayinger for authentic German style and Sierra Nevada, for an American version. 

     

    Pumpkin Brews

    Before everything else took on pumpkin as second form of identification, Pumpkin beers were at the forefront of fall staples. It's recognized by it’s pie-like spices, which usually leaves people loving it or hating it. However, pumpkin beer yields a lot of variety outside the notable spices. Some have no spice at all and lend a milder flavor with a malty backbone.

    “Haters gonna hate. I love pumpkin beers," says Sam Cruz, co-owner of Against the Grain, “not all of them, but there are some great ones out there.” Cruz suggests AtG’s spin on the pumpkin brew, ‘Flesh Gourd’in’. "It’s easy on the nutmeg and we add Chinese fivespice to it,” says Cruz.

    Rick Stidham from Akasha Brewing doesn’t generally go for the typical pumpkin beer because “they tend to be overdone with spices.” Stidham prefers pumpkin alone when it comes to brewing. “We’re planning to bring back a home brew recipe from a few years ago, a Biere de Garde with roasted pumpkin and/or butternut squash.”

    Amelia Pillow also suggests some great pumpkin beers for both spice loyalists and pumpkin fundamentalists. “If you really just want that pie-like fix, I’d go traditional with Seattle's Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale or The Great Pumpkin, which is their Imperial version,” says Pillow. For those looking for a “drier” brew “with a complexity beyond just ‘pumpkin spice’, she suggests Jolly Pumpkin’s La Parcela.

     

    Malty Beers

    Malty beers are a given when it comes to the Autumn season. Deep malty notes include flavors like, caramel, nuts, toast, toffee and fruit. All the flavors that pair perfectly with the season. 

    Phillip Dearner from Goodwood Brewing Company claims that malty beers are his fall time favorite. “There is nothing like a nice malty beer while sitting outside while the cool air brushes across your face,” says Dearner. “Malty beers also compliment campfires, flannel over shirts, boots and holding hands with your wife.” Dearner suggests the Walnut Brown Ale and Brandy Barrel Honey Ale from Goodwood.

    Image Courtesy of Against the Grain

    Sam Cruz from AtG says brown ales are like his session beer of the campfire, “Brown Note is my favorite and Goodwood’s Walnut Brown.”

     

    Brewer Picks:

    Amelia Pillow (Against the Grain): The Great Pumpkin (Elysian), Night Owl Pumpkin Ale (Elysian), Fuego del Otono (Jolly Pumpkin), La Parcela (Jolly Pumpkin), Ayinger's Oktoberfest, Sierra Nevada's Oktoberfest, Chasin' Freshies (Deschutes), Hop 'N' Fresh Out the Kitchen (AtG), Autumnal (Stillwater)

    Rick Stidham (Akasha Brewing): Monnik's Oktoberfest, Goodwood's Oktoberfest, Aylinger's Oktoberfest, Weinenstephaner's Oktoberfest, Akasha's cherrywood smoked porter 

    Phillip Dearner (Goodwood Brewing): Goodwood's Walnut Brown Ale and Brandy Barrel Honey Ale

    Sam Cruz (Against the Grain): Flesh Gourd'in (Atg), Blue Stallion's Oktoberfest, Ayinger's Oktoberfest, Schenkerla's Märzen, Brown Note (AtG), and Walnut Brown Ale (Goodwood)

     

    Cover Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock/MaxyM

     

     

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    About Katie Molck

    Loretta Lynn is the best country music singer of all time and if you don't like pickled foods, you can leave.

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