The temperatures still feel like summer, but the beer offerings are starting to hint at cooler days to come
Every season brings with it a roster of beers appropriate to the weather: rich stouts, porters and spiced holiday ales for the winter; clean and light-bodied hefeweizens and lagers for summer. The advent of fall brings back the sweeter and maltier brews best enjoyed by a fire pit or during a football game. Among beer aficionados, there's often the palpable excitement for fall flavors, much like the anticipated return of pumpkin spice lattes to coffee shops.
While the seasonal creep means most nationally known pumpkin beers (think Southern Tier's Pumking and all its variations) begin appearing on shelves during the steamy days of August, some Columbus brewers push back.
“We often get asked why some of our seasonal beers come out so late,” Lineage Brewing said in a Facebook post this week. “It is because our beers are truly seasonal. Yesterday we roasted pumpkins for our fall pumpkin beer. We couldn't do it earlier since we waited until Mother Nature was ready.”
Lineage contributes to the pool of locally produced pumpkin ales. The brewer's Peter's Propensity is a light-bodied and clean pumpkin ale spiced with cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Likewise, Sideswipe Brewing brews a lighter-bodied pumpkin ale, Squashing Pumpkins, but swaps out the traditional pumpkins for more squash.
Some breweries lean into heavier and richer pumpkin beers. Commonhouse Ales produces its annual Punkt imperial pumpkin porter each year; it's currently on tap at Smokehouse Brewing. Along with the pumpkin, it features fresh ginger, nutmeg, clove, allspice and Vietnamese cinnamon. In the past, the brewery has also released a bourbon barrel-aged version called Banshee.
Many other breweries rely on traditional autumn styles like the Oktoberfest beer. Wolf's Ridge Brewing released its version two weeks ago with a special Oktoberfest party in its new Downtown event space. The Oktoberfest is available both bottled and on tap alongside its award-winning Buchenrauch smoked lager. Columbus Brewing Company also bottles an Oktoberfest-style amber lager called Festbier, while North High Brewing produces the biscuit-y, sweet Norden Hoch Oktoberfest.
Perhaps the most “out of the box” fall brew comes from Barley's Brewing: Bourbon Meyer Buckeye Stout, a stout aged in bourbon barrels with chocolate and peanut butter.