Fall is the season for beer with a sturdy malt foundation to stave off cold, dark nights. When putting together a fall beer review, I’m looking for robust beers with malt notes of chocolate, molasses and toffee that will act as a wool sweater for the soul.
Thus, I present to you four sit-by-the-campfire-all-night-long beers. The first-time-you-light-the-woodstove beers. After-you-rake-leaves-from-the-yard beers. Retrieving-wool-blankets-from-the-cedar-chest beers. After-you-hand-out-candy-on-Halloween beers. And above all, get-you-ready-for-the-first-snowfall kind of beers.
The märzen lager is the original fall beer, and Marsh Island’s take on this traditional Oktoberfest beer is superb. As an amber lager, this is the perfect beer as you transition from golden lagers and ales of summer to darker fall beers. Oktoberfest Lager pours a deep mahogany with a foamy yellow head. The aroma exudes coppery malt overtones and a clean lager spice. The flavor has subtle notes of brown sugar, a nice bite from the lager yeast and an alluring toffee finish. It boasts a full body great for fall nights. As with all of Marsh Island’s lagers, Oktoberfest Lager has a clean finish leaving you yearning for the next swig.
STYLE: Märzen lager
TASTING NOTES: Brown sugar and toffee with a spicy finish from the lager yeast
ABV: 5.9 percent
AVAILABILITY: Purchase four-packs of 16-ounce cans at your local beverage store or at the brewery in Orono.
Brown ales and fall weather make brilliant bedfellows. While many brown ales are brewed with British ale yeast, Geaghan Brothers brews Bangor Brown with an American ale yeast and citrusy American hops, making this a toothsome modern take on a traditional fall beer. Big chocolate malt notes greet the nose when popping a bottle of Bangor Brown, followed by nuanced citrus hops. Pouring nut-brown in hue, this beer has flavors of cocoa, sweet honey, and smoky malts, with a light blood orange finish from the hops. The candy overtones from the grains make this an adult treat on Halloween.
STYLE: American-style brown ale
TASTING NOTES: Cocoa, sweet honey and smoky malts with a citrus finish from the American hops
ABV: 6 percent
AVAILABILITY: Purchase six-packs of 12-ounce bottles at local beverage stores or at the brewery in Brewer.
With a complex malt flavor profile, a midnight black appearance and a 6.66 percent alcohol content, this ghoulish beer is an excellent companion on a brisk fall eve. When slowly poured into a glass, Haunted House radiates aromatic notes of fresh cocoa beans and roasted malts akin to a porter. The bible black liquid is crowned with a frothy espresso head as you top off the glass. The first sip of Haunted House releases chocolaty malts, roasted caramel and a hint of black licorice. A satisfying bitter hop finish settles on the palate as a grace note from the Chinook, Tettnang, and Saaz hops.
STYLE: Hoppy dark ale
TASTING NOTES: Notes of chocolate malts, roasted caramel and licorice with an assertive hop finish
ABV: 6.66 percent
AVAILABILITY: Purchase four-packs of 12-ounce bottles from local beverage stores or at the Portland brewery.
This double IPA from the newly launched Lake St. George Brewing Co. in Liberty is a delightful marriage of old school hop bitterness and new school juicy hop flavors — all with a put-hair-on-your-chest 9.1 percent alcohol content. Legendary brewer, Danny McGovern, has hopped Pinnacle to the max with Simcoe, Centennial, Amarillo, El Dorado and Citra hops to impart a complex bitter-to-juicy hop flavor profile. Pinnacle has endless notes of pine needles, stonefruit, sweet malts and grapefruit in the nose. With a startlingly boozy underbelly, this fall companion isn’t for the faint of heart. Pinnacle finishes with an interplay of earthy, resinous hops and sugary malt sweetness. Let this one warm up the cockles of your heart as the mercury drops.
STYLE: Double IPA
TASTING NOTES: Big notes of pine, grapefruit, stonefruit and sweet malts
ABV: 9.1 percent
AVAILABILITY: Purchase four-packs of 12-ounce cans from local beverage stores or at the brewery in Liberty.
OTHER BEER HAPPENINGS
7 to 11 p.m., Friday, 13-W, 32 Main St., Biddeford. On Facebook.
What better way to celebrate Halloween than to dress up, head to a spooky old mill and drink great craft beer? Banded Horn is throwing down on Friday with Fright Night. Expect costume competitions with six categories, including weirdest superhero, best group costume and best in show. There will be a DJ and dancing until 11 p.m., along with a full lineup of Banded Horn beer. The thought of dressing up as Steve Zissou (my favorite weird superhero), drinking Daikaiju double IPA and dancing to house music sounds just about perfect for an adult Halloween celebration.
Last spring, Sebago Brewing announced the sale of its turnkey Gorham brewery as it prepared to move across town to a new 31,000-square-foot brewery and tasting room. The brewing world has been abuzz with speculation about who the buyer of the 13,000-square-foot brewery would be. Last week, Sebago announced that Lone Pine Brewing of Portland will acquire the site and equipment, quadrupling Lone Pine’s production abilities. Lone Pine plans to keep its tasting room and brewery in East Bayside, while moving the production of flagship beers, such as Portland Pale Ale and Brightside IPA, to the Gorham location. The transition will be completed in February when Sebago moves into the new facility. Cheers to growth in the industry!