Saturday, October 22, 2016

How to Un-Squash Your Autumn Beer Selection

Dark, Robust and PERFECT for Fall
Fall is probably my favorite season. The weather gets crisp, the Oregon trees present their spectacular color changes, and the best holiday EVER--Halloween--delivers frights and chills galore, but there's one thing about Fall that I positively dread. What could possibly ruin my awesome Autumnal vibes, you ask? PUMPKINS! I absolutely despise pumpkins! They are containers for the souls of the damned! Hard, demonic, waxy shells filled with slimy seeds and stringy guts! GAAAAAAAH!

Hey, I don't want you to think I'm some kind of wacky, out-of-control anti-pumpkin crusader. I don't mind the occasional decorative gourd or two. I can even enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie, given the right amount of whipped topping, but what I can't enjoy--and refuse to allow in my fridge--is PUMPKIN BEER! Why? Why, people? What is this desire to ruin a completely decent batch of beer by tossing copious amounts of gourd-y goo into the boil? Noooooo!

Believe me, I tried to get into this seasonal craft beer trend. Over the years, I've choked it down by the bomber and glass. I've found that the best compliment I can bestow on a pumpkin beer is that it doesn't taste like pumpkin at all. Finally, after decades of gagging and unceremonious drain-pouring, I gave up. I decided to be true to myself--and my taste buds--and just shun the stuff.

Okay, enough ranting about the horrors of pumpkin beer. I'm here to provide support for my fellow pumpkin shunners out there--and I know you're out there...somewhere. The question: what's in the cold case for US when those leaves start to fall? The answer: PLENTY!

Today, I'm featuring three local Portland beers that are more than appropriate Autumnal libations. These beers are all sufficiently dark, robust and flavorful for the season at hand, and not a pumpkin taste anywhere near these beautiful brews. 

4 & 20 Imperial Black IPA from Culmination Brewing Company. Jet black in color with a creamy mocha head. Looking into a pint of this hop-tastic beer is like staring into the abyss--and finding the abyss staring back at you. To me, this is a perfect Fall beer. The 9.5% ABV certainly helps take the chill off when the temps drop in the evening. The sweet, roasted malt is expertly balanced against an array of citrus and pine hops flavors. The Pacific Northwest hops profile of Simcoe, Chinook, Cascade and Centennial makes this the quintessential Oregon Fall beer for me.

Black Widow Porter from McMenamins. This offering truly is a Fall seasonal. I look forward to Black Widow every year and the good folks at McMenamins were kind enough to send me a bomber. Of course, Kennedy School is right down the street from my house (google it) and I love to get this beer poured from the tap. It's always superb and this year is no exception. Deep, dark brown color with a creamy, tan head, it is a lovely beer to behold. The rich, roasted malt flavor is the star of show. Robust, but smooth and highly drinkable. Hints of cocoa nibs and coffee. Once again, PERFECT for Fall.

Stubs Old Crow Hazelnut Porter from Alameda Brewing Company. This beer has an appropriately spooky, Halloween-ish label. Crows are generally creepy. Gratefully, the beer inside the bomber is not creepy at all. This porter has rich, robust, roasted malt flavor with the subtle taste of roasted hazelnuts in the mix. It's a deep, dark brown, almost black color with a dark tan head. Bitter cocoa and espresso. The nuttiness gives this beer a Fall feeling.

Alrighty! I think I have my fridge sufficiently stocked up with enough non-pumpkin beers. Perhaps I'll be much less annoyed when I see all the space those jack-o-lantern brews will be hogging up on the shelves. 

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