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Forget about Boys of Summer, we're talking Beers of Fall!

By Lisa Mesa on Oct 03, 2020 in The Good Life
Forget about Boys of Summer, we're talking Beers of Fall!

Ah, the beers of October filled with pumpkin, spice and everything, wait, WHAT!  No, well, yes but we will get to that.  Let’s talk about the styles of beers that we are looking forward to with the coming of Fall.  To start, let’s jump into our way back machine and talk about why October is the perfect month for brewing and consuming beer.

From about 1600 to 1900, four classes of beers were brewed on estates in Europe, although not all were brewed by every brewer. On the bottom was the weak and watery “small” beer, usually the last of whatever had been brewed, although occasionally brewed on its own in summer months. Next up the scale in strength was “table” beer, a beer of what we today would consider "ordinary strength", roughly in the 5% alcohol range. Next came March and October beer at about 7% or a bit higher; and then the rarely brewed “double” beers that were well over 10% + and usually reserved for very special occasions.  October and March beers are just about identical, except that the use of last year’s malt and hops, and the warm summertime fermentations, gave March beer a lesser reputation for quality than the October brews.

October was generally regarded as the best month to brew as that’s when the freshest ingredients were available. The barley harvest was in, so new malt was available and was widely believed to contribute to a beer that kept very well. The freshest hops of the season added their own special charms. Cooler fermentation temperatures made long-aged beers less vulnerable to issues such as souring than March beers. And by October, the strong beer made in the previous year was starting to be tapped, and so the need to brew a replacement became obvious.

Our brewers today still clamor for the freshest ingredients but there is still nothing better than ingredients grown right in our own back yard and we are seeing the importance of this more and more not just to the consumer but to the brewer.  Several California breweries have their own farms and are using estate ingredients, brewers like Mad Fritz, Pond Farm, Sage and Smoke Mountain.  Others are sourcing from their neighborhood farmers for fresh produce such as Almanac who brew seasonal beers using produce that has been fresh picked instead of flavored syrups.  Shopping for beer this time of year very much reminds me of a trip to the farmers market.  So think about that when you are out purchasing beer this month. Look at the labels and look for seasonal ingredients to try some of the freshest beers brewed during harvest.

As the weather turns cooler (somewhere), in California we are caught in the warm season (somewhere between melting and putting on a beanie with our shorts) so we aren’t yet ready for the big burly beers but we are looking for the warm, cozy flavors of fall that are still refreshing.  These are our favorite styles to drink as the days stay warm but the nights begin to cool.


This lager is rich in malt but with a clean, light body and crisp hop bitterness to balance. Biscuit-like, bready aromas with hints of caramel.

Bock biers

These lagers are typically all about malt, with very low hop character and medium body. The malt aromas can range from nutty to toasted to biscuit. Dopplebocks are "double bocks" with more body, color, and alcohol.


This lager is sometimes also called "Hellerbock." Bready, lightly toasted malt character is balanced with a little more hoppiness than the traditional bock beers and they have a paler, lighter color.


This black lager is a relatively roasty, light-bodied brew that finishes mostly dry with a good dose of hop bitterness on the palate.


This English-style pale ale is also known as an "Extra Special Bitter." Like many of its lager relatives, it’s all about finding the perfect balance between malt and hops. Typically characterized with fruity, earthy, herbal aromas, these beers have considerable bitterness and a medium-to-full body.

Amber ale

This style typically has medium-to-high maltiness, but with lesser caramel flavors. Prominent hop aromas and bitterness characterize these beers, along with a medium to full body.

Red ale

Another medium-bodied beer that seeks to balance malt sweetness with hop bitterness. American styles utilize American hops, which can provide some more pronounced citrus, pine, and grassy aromas.

Brown ale

Roasted malt, caramel, and chocolate are often the most prominent aromas and flavors in these beers, though they are—by and large—not heavy bodied. They commonly have low hop aroma, but have considerable hop bitterness to keep the beer fresh on the palate.


This is a darker, malty version of the classic German Hefeweizen, which is a medium-bodied wheat beer. Sweet maltiness and chocolate flavors are typical, along with the classic aromas and flavors of banana, bubble gum, clove, and yeasty esters common to Hefeweizen.

 Cheers to Good Sips!

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