Hoops on Hops: Autumn beers spice up the weeks before winter | Brainerd Dispatch


I usually write a holiday beer column, but with this year being hopefully a bit more normal for folks to get together, I thought we should highlight some great beers for colder temperatures before we hit the holidays.

The fall season brings the harvest and a great variety of ingredients that brewers use to make beer. The stars are apples and pumpkins and soon, spiced holiday beers. Both fruits will be widely featured in beers we will see in the coming weeks. I am a huge fan of apple beers. They are a great cross between cider — crisp and fruity — and beer that tastes like apple pie and pie crust, with round sweet flavors. These beers are about balance.

Brewers constantly strive to provide a nice balance in their beers, between the sweet notes of malt (barley, wheat, oats, rye, etc.), fruits and other fun ingredients and, of course, hops, which are more bitter and add many notes like lemon, grass, citrus and straw. As brewers, we get to weigh flavors against each other to provide harmony, just like the change of seasons we are about to experience. Balance is the goal.

We will also see some more robust beers returning to shelves and taprooms.

Assertive styles in the lager category include bock, doppelbock, eisbock, Euro strong lager, imperial Pilsner, Baltic porter and malt liquor.

And some strong selections from the ale family are: Belgian triple, grand cru and golden strong, weizenbock, old ale, strong ale, wee heavy, Russian imperial stout, barleywine, wheatwine, triple and quad India pale ale, imperial porter and honey beer.

I moved back to Duluth 22 years ago from San Francisco. The mean temperature there was about 66 degrees, and seasonal transitions there are barely discernible. Here in Duluth, seasons rule our livelihood and lifestyles. We get the full four seasons, and each comes at us with a bang. Changes of wardrobe, mentality, activities and optimism with the vaccines and fewer cases out there, certainly make me hopeful for a return to normalcy soon.

Fall is the time to fire up the outdoor firepit, take long walks in the woods with or without your dog, open the windows at night and snuggle up under the covers, cook or read a book. Things might look a bit different this fall, but I suspect and hope that family and holiday gatherings will be at a higher level this year, something we can be thankful for.

Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge. Write to him at [email protected]

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