October/November 2008

Fall Colors

Autumn is the season for changing things up and that goes for beer as well. The witbiers and light lagers are saved for Indian summer and as the weather gets cooler, we turn more towards heartier styles like Octoberfests and harvest ales. In the Great Lakes region's yearly splendor, trees are blazing at their peak of color. Thus, for this tasting we sampled beers in the fall colors spectrum.

The Rose Garden, a traditional German bier garten and restaurant in Clarence, New York, was the perfect setting for our tasting of the fall-colored beers. With two Flying Bison beers on tap, along with several German biers, we enjoyed a pint to warm up our taste buds.

The Tasters:
The steadfast Beer Beacon Key Three - Vinny, Hop Jack and The Magistrate were joined by the Interloper and the Beer Diva.

The Method:
Tasters are served each beer without knowing what the beer is. They are told
what style the brewery is emulating, if there is a style.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to all the breweries that sent samples
to the Beer Beacon for this fine tasting. When you're in Buffalo, check out
the Rose Garden for an Octoberfest and some genuine German food. And
without which there would be no column, my sincere thanks to the
loyal Beer Beacon Tasters. Next issue: Strong Ales and Barleywines.

The Beers:

Late Harvest Ale ~ Red Hook Brewery
35 Corporate Drive, Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03801

“A brilliantly clear copper color and very nice, clean taste,” commented Hop Jack. The Magistrate detected a woody, herbal nose, whereas Vinny thought there was a light caramel fruitiness in the aroma. The Magistrate thought the soft malt flavor was well balanced with hops, a very easy drinking beer. The Interloper liked the subtlety of flavors and the dry finish. Take this Red Hook Harvest to your next Tailgater, suggests the Beer Diva.

Jack's Pumpkin Ale ~ Anheuser-Busch
One Busch Place, St. Louis, Missouri 63118

Dark golden, with hints of chestnut commented the Interloper. Hop Jack noticed ginger notes in the lightly spiced aroma. The spicy cinnamon nutmeg flavors are subtle, commented Vinny. The Magistrate pronounced it flawless. A very nice dry finish, an easy drinker agreed the Interloper. Mildly spicy and not too big, “I'd do another,” affirmed the Beer Diva.

Harvest Ale ~ Goose Island Brewery
1800 West Fulton Street, Chicago, Illinois 60612

“Mmmm! Definite hoppy aroma!” exclaimed The Magistrate. A clear, deep copper color, the Interloper found the Harvest Ale was both refreshing and flavorful. Vinny liked the resiny hops body and the chewy caramel malt flavor finish. Hop Jack thought it was brilliant, very well balanced. Harvest Ale will warm you nicely on a chilly nights.

Dead Guy Ale ~ Rogue Brewery
2320 OSU Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365

The aroma from the Dead Guy was surprisingly mild and very fresh. Hop Jack noted the big shaving cream head on the amber body. The Interloper commented on the big up front malt taste and said it was well balanced with hop bitterness. “Nothing big, nothing bad” said, The Magistrate. “This is a hearty, newbie beer”.

Jamaica Red ~ Mad River Brewery
101 Taylor Way, Blue Lake, California 95525

Vinny thought the spicy hop aroma mixed with a zesty, caramel malt complexity was well-balanced. Bitter, but not to the point of being harsh with a nice dry, lingering finish, added the Interloper. The Magistrate said this was a wonderfully aggressive west coast amber beer. Hop Jack, an accomplished home brewer, claimed it tasted like his homebrew.

Wolaver's Pumpkin Ale ~ Otter Creek Brewery
793 Exchange Street, Middlebury, Vermont 05753

The Magistrate liked the gingery hot, herbal yarrow, lavender spicy aromas. Hop Jack thought it needed more body to balance the strong spice. The Interloper tasted big spices - nutmeg, allspice and ginger with a little tanginess. We all thought this beer would match well with Sushi.

Amber Ale ~ Full Sail Brewery
506 Columbia Street, Hood River, Oregon 97031

"Brilliantly clear, copper color with some pungent hops in the nose,” commented Hop Jack. “Big wheaty notes, but the body lacks character,” asserted the Interloper. Hop Jack liked the soft malt nose complemented by fruity cherry esters. The consensus was that this amber ale would be great with the authentically delicious German food served at the Rose Garden.

Oxford Amber Ale ~ Clipper City
4615 Hollins Ferry Rd., Suite B, Baltimore, Maryland 21227

“Subtle roasty, and malt accentuated with just enough hops to balance nicely,” said Hop Jack. Vinny thought the aroma was somewhat smoky foot-like? While the Beer Diva pondered that, The Magistrate decided this was a typical middle of the road beer that might become very popular.

Double Dead Guy Ale ~ Rogue Brewery
2320 OSU Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365

The Magistrate appreciated the sweet caramel, toffee aroma and the rich sweet caramel flavor. Vinny poetically began a haiku: “big bittering hops blast in a mild malt body”. The Interloper thought it was a nice blend of high alcohol, malt and hops that follows through to a dry finish. The Beer Diva thought it was very nice, but monstrously big.

Michelob Dunkelweiss ~ Anheuser-Busch
One Busch Place, St. Louis, Missouri 63118

Hop Jack noted the cloudy amber color and the bubblegum and estery taste. The Interloper whiffed a huge wheat aroma and bread flavor. The Magistrate noted the Belgian-esque like nose and the big, rich fruity flavor. Vinny thought the caramel spice, fruity taste was a bit sweet, but drinkable.

--- by The Beer Diva, Beer Beacon columnist

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