With the dog days of summer winding down, and fall upon us, it’s time for us to head out to our local bottle shops for this year’s fall seasonal brews. Hard to even consider here in Texas, when it’s still triple digits though isn’t it? Although fall styles like Oktoberfest, and the often anticipated pumpkin brews, were traditionally brewed and released a little later in the season, the advent of better technology has allowed seasonal beers to be released whenever the brewer desires. Rather than fight these early releases, I say we embrace it.
The Oktobertfest style originated around 1840 and is based off a Vienna style lager. Usually brewed in the spring, cellared during the summer, Oktoberfest beers are typically released for traditional fall harvest celebrations. Fall has come early in the U.S., with the release of several Oktoberfest beers. Sam Adams Oktoberfest from the Boston Beer Company is already on the shelves, as is one from Shiner, Texas based Speotzol Brewing and the soon to be released Oktoberfiesta from San Antonio’s Freetail Brewing Co. Be sure to try several if you have the chance, most are similar, but you’ll never find two exactly alike.
I’ve often come across beer drinkers who shake their heads when I even bring up the existence of a pumpkin beer, let alone wanting one. Most people don’t realize that pumpkin beers have been around since colonial times in America, as malted barley was scarce, and brewers need other sources of fermentable sugars for their brews. Pumpkin was readily available and a viable option for them, but as malted barley became more available in the early 19th century, pumpkin beers began to wane. They did see a revival in the late 1980’s, but more are pumpkin pie flavored, with pumpkin used in conjunction with barley, than based solely on this celebrated squash. Buffalo Bill’s Brewery is often given credit for this revival.
While Linus prepares for the Great Pumpkin, breweries have already sent their lot to bottle shops around the U.S. Already out on the shelves is the much anticipated Punkin’Ale from Delaware based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Brooklyn Brewing’s Post Road Pumpkin Ale, Shipyard Brewing’s Smashed Pumpkin, Freetail Brewing’s Otono Bienvenido Pumpkin Saison and my personal favorite ‘Dark o’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout’ from Elysian Brewing in Washington. Pumpkin beers have become popular enough to be seen at a festival or two around the country, such as Elysian’s Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, now in its 7th year. Get them while you can, for as early as they have arrived, they’ll all be gone soon enough.
As the bat flys…
This past weekend saw the 3rd annual RealTail collaboration event between Freetail Brewing and Blanco based Real Ale Brewing. The event saw more than 20 special beers available that each brewery had been setting aside, as well as a collaboration beer aptly called RealTail III, an ale brewed with “Raisins, whole spices (cinnamon, cumin), piloncillo sugar, dried chiles (guajillo, arbol, ancho), roasted almonds and pumpkin seeds” that pays homage to the popular Mexican dish, Mole.
If you weren’t able to make the event, never fear, some of the beers are still available, including the collaboration beer which will also be available in the bottle in a massive 5 beer bottle release on September 15th. The bottle release will also feature favorites such as Fortuna Roja, Ananke, Yo So Un Berliner and Porto Galito. Limitations on purchases will apply only to Fortuna Roja.
Ranger Creek whiskey
San Antonio’s Ranger Creek Brewing and Distilling announced today that it is set to release the second of its small batch whiskeys in October. Labled ‘Rimfire’ after the ammunition used by the Winchester 1866 ‘Yellow Boy’ repeating rifle, this is a mesquite smoked scotch-style whiskey. Only 500 cases will be made available.