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Thoughts on Beer and a Fall Sampling

September 14, 2015
Fall beer sampling. Old Fashioned Modern Living.

The first beer I ever tried was a Guinness. My dad used to let me try his, just to see the look of utter disgust on my face and the shiver I gave as I choked down one sip. He thought it was kind of funny. When we were dating, my husband used to think so too. Occasionally he reminds me of the time he brought me to his frat party and I poured Kool-Aid fruit punch into a Bud Light to make it more tolerable. I was not a beer kind of girl by any means. Back in the day, I liked a Malibu Bay-breeze and any wine of the pink variety. Once in awhile, I’d try a fruit flavored beer and think that it was okay. It was just never something that I was super excited to drink.

A few years after we moved to upstate New York, my husband and I began to frequent The Bier Abbey more often. The Bier Abbey is this awesome pub and restaurant that utilizes old church pews as booths and has giant metal beer logos on the wall. It has that gritty Schenectady charm and a rotating beer list. My husband always liked it, but we began to go more often when we met some friends who are regulars. At first, I conservatively ordered a cabernet (my wine tastes matured far before my taste in beer), while my husband extolled the virtues of the craft beer. One day, I don’t remember why, I decided to order a beer with everyone else. At the Bier Abbey, you can order a 4 oz. sized beer, which was perfect for me. Even I had confidence that I could finish a glass of beer that would be the suitable size for an American Girl Doll. I can’t be certain, but I think I ordered Bean Head, a coffee flavored stout. From that moment on, I realized that I liked dark beers! My husband was pretty pumped to finally have a beer drinking buddy.

I think darker beers will always be my favorite, but I have also grown to love certain fall seasonal beers. My husband and his best friend are always very excited for the return of Sam Adam’s Octoberfest. It’s like the Pumpkin Spice Latte for beer drinkers. Drinking Octoberfest is always their late summer/early fall ritual. We have kind of extended that into our Annual Fall Beer Sampling. While we have managed to hold off on decorating for fall (for now at least! The struggle is real.) and other autumnal activities, we have already begun enjoying some seasonal brews with friends! This time, I managed to take notes.

Disclaimer: I do not pretend to be a beer snob or to know a lot about beers. Nor is this an all encompassing list of fall beers. We could not try every fall beer that we wanted to, because we are attempting responsible adulthood! There may or may not be a Fall Beer Sampling Part 2 forthcoming.

Shocktop Pumpkin Wheat (5.1%)
We decided to start with what we assumed would be the lightest of our fall beers. We were correct. No one disliked this beer, but it didn’t knock anyones socks off. A basic, light beer with a hint of pumpkin flavor.
“It’s like somebody was brewing Shocktop, and walked through the room with a pumpkin.”
“Cinnamon is the most prominent flavor.”
“Drink this if you are looking to have more than one pumpkin beer.”

Shipyard Pumpkinhead (4.5%)
This beer has been one of the few beers that I have liked for awhile. My cousins introduced me to it one year when I was visiting them in Maine, which is actually where the Shipyard Brewing Company is located. I will admit that it has sentimental value in addition to just being a really good seasonal beer. I try to buy a sixpack of this every fall.
“Light, sweet pumpkin, with a hint of mulled spices and citrus flavor.”

Harpoon Octoberfest (5.3%)
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this beer. It’s a good dark fall beer that is not overwhelmingly heavy. I would buy this again.
“Malty hops with a chocolate flavor.”
“Tastes darker than it looks!”

Sam Adam’s Octoberfest (5.3%)
Hands down, my husband’s favorite seasonal beer. He will occasionally find other beers that he really enjoys, but he always returns to his old standby. I find it a little light for my taste, but very drinkable.
“Smooth, drinkable, less bitter than the Harpoon.”
“Brings back good memories, but a little lacking in spices.”
“Enough bitterness to make you feel like you are drinking a real Octoberfest, but light enough to drink a few of these.”
“Better with a cinnamon rim.”

Redhook Pumpkin Porter (5.8%)
It was not a bad seasonal dark beer, but none of us were very excited about it. I would not buy it again when there are others that I enjoy much more.
“I taste clove and anise.”
“Very flavorful, but kind of unpleasant.”
“Dark for a porter. It tastes more like coffee than pumpkin.”

Warlock Imperial Stout (8.6%)
Initially, we were all most excited to taste this beer. While it didn’t end up being a favorite, Warlock Imperial Stout inspired the most intense reactions! It is like a very rich dessert. I would summarize it as a fun once in while choice for dark beer fans who plan on being “one and done.”
“Overwhelming pumpkin taste, with a hint of hazelnut.”
“Great in small doses.”
“Pezzy. The pezz is attacking me! Its too much!”
No one finished their four ounce glasses.

Shocktop Honeycrisp Apple Wheat (5.2%)
This might be an odd beer choice to complete the sampling, but we all agreed that we needed something completely different after the Warlock! Shocktop Apple Wheat definitely tastes like apples, but has a slight candy apple chemical aftertaste. Once you notice it, its hard to ignore.
“Like poorly fermented cider.”
“Good, but with an odd aftertaste.”

We were able to narrow down our favorites to the Harpoon, Shipyard, and Sam Adam’s. What are your favorite fall brews? Are you resisting the urge to immerse yourself in all things fall? I’m dying to make chocolate chip pumpkin muffins and buy little “ghost” pumpkins!

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