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Beer Chick | Fall in love with autumn ales

Fall beers are already showing up. File photo.
Fall beers are already showing up. File photo. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

If you’re a native to the Myrtle Beach area, you might have already noticed the subtle change in the sun’s direction when it rises over the coast, or maybe that’s just me looking at it every morning as I drive my daughter to school.

Maybe for you it’s the reduction in traffic you notice or that the morning temperatures are beginning to cool down.

Autumn is right around the corner and with it brings tourists going home, the kids going back to school, the college football obsession and pumpkin spice everything.

One more thing it also promises: the influx of seasonal specialty and fall-centric beers.

Now I know I might appear to be “jumping the gun” a bit as autumn does not officially begin until Sept. 23, but as a homebrewer, I’ve been thinking about what I want to drink in the fall for months.

My amber ale is ready to drink, and my pumpkin spice ale is on its way to being ready in October. It’s a wonderful time of year that pairs beautifully with many different styles of beer that focus more on the flavors of the malt rather than level of the hop.

Allow me to share a few brews that I think are ideal for the upcoming season:

Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

Chico, Calif., and Fletcher, N.C.

Traditionally, the name Oktoberfest is reserved for beers that are brewed in one of a handful of breweries in Munich. Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest wasn’t brewed in Germany, but it did partner with one of those breweries, Brauhaus Riegele of Augsburg, to make sure their version of the beer was of the proper tradition.

What they created turned out to be a glorious and malt-laden tribute to its style, with gentle, spicy hops. It’s the perfect marriage of toffee, bread and a bright, crisp finish. After all, Oktoberfest began in celebration of a royal marriage.

I’m blown away about how perfect this beer is; it’s like bottling up the season.

Fat Tire Amber Ale from New Belgium Brewing

Fort Collins, Colo., and Asheville, N.C.

Often overlooked, in my opinion, Fat Tire is one of those beers that every time I taste it after not having it for a while, I’m reminded how well-crafted it is.

While Belgian-influenced, it is an American-style amber ale, and it showcases that smooth caramel flavor, subtle hop presence and gorgeous golden-amber color.

As New Belgium’s flagship beer, it is available year-round and also the perfect choice to share with new comers to the world of craft beer.

Ellie’s Brown Ale from Avery Brewing Company

Boulder, Colo.

This bodacious brew is an excellent example of one of the more flavorful American brown ales available and one of my favorites of the style.

Just smelling it makes me crave a piece of pecan pie as it has that rich, nutty and chocolate-covered caramel aroma.

It’s got a fantastic medium body that has a toasted, crusty malt flavor with hints of chocolate, and a slight caramel nuttiness and sweetness to tie it all together.

It’s not too heavy, so appreciating its complexity is a must for pairing with a good book on the front porch in the evening — with a piece of pie.

Pumpkinfest from Terrapin Beer Company

Atlanta

As my very first taste of real craft pumpkin ale this year, I can definitely say that this brew is one you cannot miss.

Pumpkin ales are quintessential to the season and I am fiercely passionate about them. Because of that passion, Terrapin’s Pumpkinfest came under great scrutiny and I am pleased to share that it passed with flying colors (of amber and orange).

This beer smells like my Nannie’s pumpkin pie, with hints of cinnamon and allspice, and tastes like caramel and pumpkin, with finishes of apple tartness and spices.

The flavor of pumpkin ales are all about the balance of subtle pumpkin flavor, supporting malts and delicate spices. Terrapin really crafted something unique — this brew is pumpkin and apple pie in a can!

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