Traditional recipes

Autumn Beer: 6 Philadelphia Brews for Fall

Autumn Beer: 6 Philadelphia Brews for Fall

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale: Nothing says autumn like a good pumpkin ale. This one initially hits you with notes of cinnamon and then finishes with prominence of the classic cloves and nutmeg with which it’s brewed. The imperial element of this ale is definitely evident both in aroma and taste, revealing its 8 percent ABV — at least a good 2 percent higher than the typical pumpkin ale.

Stoudt’s Oktoberfest: At first sip, this doesn’t seem to be the typical Oktoberfest. Its cereal notes dominate its malty flavor, though this, too, is definitely discernible in this moderately hopped, light amber brew. If you’re looking for a slightly out of the ordinary Oktoberfest with a clean finish, this Adamstown beer is for you (5 percent ABV).

Fegley’s Brewworks Bourbon Barrel Insidious: Aged in charred oak bourbon barrels, this is the smooth, but not too thick, beer you want to be drinking fireside. The pitch-black pour is surprisingly light with a chocolaty, bourbon scent, and has a nice drinkability given its higher alcohol content (9 percent ABV).

Flying Fish Red Fish: Though not your typical tummy-warming autumn beer, this latest ale from Flying Fish has all the qualities of a crisp fall day. Its aroma matches that of an American Pale Ale, along with a distinct, robust bitterness, but with hops that are slightly toned down to showcase its red ale qualities. A piney perfume gives this medium-bodied beer a touch of a fall feel, perfect for the early days of October (7 percent ABV).

Yards General Washington’s Tavern Porter: Word is Washington had a liking for porters, especially those from brewer Robert Hare, whose original brewery stood just blocks from the current Yards location. Inspired by our very first president’s original recipe, this has the classical rich flavor of a porter but isn’t overbearingly heavy. Hints of caramel and coffee interject its strong molasses flavor, and make it the perfect pairing for a warm winter-approaching dessert (7 percent ABV).

Victory Festbier: This is a go-to amber lager for the fall. It’s moderately hoppy and heavy on the malt, with hints of caramel and a faint nuttiness. If you’re looking for a classic Octoberfest-feel, opt for this (5.6 percent ABV).

— Grace Dickenson, The Drink Nation

More From The Drink Nation:

Beer Review: Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale
Great American Beer Festival Medal Winners From 1987
Beer Review: Guinness Black Lager


5 Great Fall Beers for the Pumpkin Beer Hater

Fall has its ups and downs. The leaves change to beautiful colors, the kids are back at school, and you're reminded of how good it feels to ease into the warmth of your favorite sweater. But it ain't all pecan pies and football games. Summer is over. It's getting cold. The flu's going around. And then there they are: cases stacked on cases stacked on cases of pumpkin beers.

If you're here, you probably hate 'em. You aren't alone—pumpkin beers are among the most polarizing beers on the planet. They aren't my favorite either.

Thankfully, lying in the shadows of the mountains of priced-to-sell six-packs at your grocery store are the tastier fall beers—special bottles to seek out this time of year that don't all have vegetables in them.

If you're looking to avoid pumpkin beers, here are five fall options you should really seek out instead.

Wet-Hopped Beers

99% or more of the beers at your bottle shop are made with dried hop flowers. These papery little cones give beers their essential balancing bitterness and lend a pleasant aroma to your beverage. But once a year, around late August or early September, it's hop harvest season, and brewers have the opportunity to use fresh, "wet" hops in their beers.

It's not an easy task to pull off. Hops have to be dried or used as quickly as possible once they're plucked from their vines—give them a few days of sitting around and you'll be left with some moldy lumps that have no place in the brewhouse.

Despite this tiny window of brewing opportunity, many major breweries in the United States go to great lengths (or at least pay fat FedEx bills) to get their hands on wet hops to be used in pale ales, IPAs, and other hoppy styles that will showcase the plant's unusual fresh flavor.

So, what do they taste like? Wet hops taste about as different from dried hops as basil leaves plucked fresh from the plant compare to what's in a supermarket shaker bottle. That is not to say that they are necessarily better in beer, but they are definitely not the same. Every hop variety tastes a bit different (whether it's fresh or dried), but wet-hopped beers tend to have a hoppy flavor that is a bit more soft, fresh, and plant-like, and a bit less pungent and concentrated. If you've never experienced one, make it your mission to track down a fresh bottle—hoppy flavor fades fast, so try to get a bottle within a month or so of the bottle's release.

Fair warning: there are some confusing marketing terms surrounding these end-of-summer specialties. Beers labeled as brewed with "wet hops" will always be made with fresh, undried flowers. The term "fresh hops" is a bit more common, but it can refer to both wet hops and hops that have been dried and used very quickly after harvest, minimizing degradation from time or oxidation. Both are highly seasonal products worth checking out.

Wet-hopped beers to try: Deschutes Chasin' Freshies and Hop Trip Founders Harvest Ale Great Divide Fresh Hop Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale

Oktoberfest Beers

Oktoberfest. You know the scene: oompah bands, enormous pretzels, and buff ladies in dirndls carrying a dozen massive beers at a time. It can be kinda great, but here's the thing: tubas get pretty annoying after a while, and those dry old pretzels are never as good as your drunken self thinks they are. The important stuff—the beer—can be had worldwide, and it is delicious. Find yourself a dirndl to wear, and you are in business, friend!

Oktoberfest beers are a Bavarian lager specialty that are typically released in conjunction with their namesake mid-September festival. They are also known as Märzen—golden-amber lagers of moderate strength (around 5 to 6% ABV), featuring bready, toasty German malt in all its majesty. There's a hoppiness there as well, lending a floral aroma and gentle bitterness, especially in fresh, well-cared-for bottles.

These beers earn bonus points for tasting great with many of the classic roasted foods of fall: squashes, pot pies, and beef stews make quick friends with the gently toasty and caramelly flavor of these beers.

Oktoberfest/Märzen Beers to Try: Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Märzen Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest Heater Allen Bobtoberfest* Jack's Abby Copper Legend

Brown Ales

Yeah, yeah, I know. You totally can get some fresh brown ales year round, but I can tell you confidently that beers of this style taste their best in the fall. A lot of breweries understand this and release their brown ales seasonally, so thankfully, you'll find a flood of freshly brewed examples rolling into your bottle shop right about. now.

As fall's chill starts to set in, there's something comforting about a brown ale's soothing maltiness, and something appropriate about how it fits with the color palette of the changing leaves. And like Oktoberfest beers, brown ales are great with the food you're roasting when it's no longer too hot to turn on the oven.

Brown Ales to Try: Bell's Best Brown Alesmith Nut Brown Ale Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

More Fresh Releases

Drinking seasonally in the fall means much more than just tracking down wet hops, Oktoberfest beers, brown ales, and (yes,) pumpkin beers. Here are a few more of our favorite autumn beer options.

Founder's Breakfast Stout Founders' Breakfast Stout is an incredible coffee-packed imperial stout with a fierce following. It's rich, licoricey, and wicked potent, with a hot streak that warms you from the inside. Despite its strength (8.3%), this one is best drunk fresh, when the coffee flavor is still lively. It's sold from October through December, so don't save this one for the new year—their excellent coffee-free Imperial Stout will be out by then anyway.

Lagunitas Imperial Red When I found out Lagunitas was bringing back their Imperial Red Ale as a 2014 fall release, I jumped up and did a little fist pump (it's okay, no one saw). Get yourself a fresh bottle of this and you'll have yourself a pungent, super-hoppy red ale that finds a satisfying balance between rich caramelly maltiness and aggressively aromatic hops.

Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock* Smoky rauchbiers are killer with fall dishes like chili, roasted chicken, and root vegetables—bring a bottle to Thanksgiving, trust me. Aecht Schlenkerla releases their Rauchbier Urbock in Bamberg, Germany on the first Thursday of every October, and I look forward to its stateside arrival every day that follows. It's similar to the Oktoberfest beers you know and love, but it's a little extra rich, with an assertive smokiness from the use of malt that's been dried with the smoke of burning beechwood logs.

Jolly Pumpkin Fuego del Otoño* Jolly Pumpkin's fall offering, despite the brewery's name, contains no pumpkin. It does, however, contain chestnuts, spices, and the acid-producing bacteria that give sour beers their punch. It's a truly unusual and delicious beer—a malty and spicy brown ale that finishes with a touch of tannin and a well-integrated tartness.

Just One Pumpkin Beer? Try an Oddball

Here's the thing: not all pumpkin beers are created equal. We're in a golden age of brewing creativity, and while we're not so excited about every bottle in the pumpkin section of your beer store, there are folks doing downright beautiful things with grain and gourd. These beers are nothing like those sickly sweet spice bombs you may have tried before. In fact, they may convince you that the idea of pumpkin beer isn't so bad after all.

Midnight Sun TREAT This spiced imperial porter is smooth and satisfying with its array of added ingredients (pumpkin, nutmeg, cacao nibs, cinnamon, and cloves) marrying neatly with a toasty, milk chocolatey maltiness. Find yourself a bottle, a glass, and a big slice of pumpkin pie, and I dare you to tell me again that you hate all pumpkin beers.

Jolly Pumpkin La Parcela* Jolly Pumpkin's got another fall seasonal up their sleeve, and this time it is a pumpkin beer. La Parcela is their sour, spiced, amber pumpkin beer with added cacao. You won't taste a ton of pumpkin flavor here instead, this beer is all about the interplay of the cacao, subtle warming spices, and the earthy tones of the beer's funky fermentation.

Almanac Dark Pumpkin Sour This year, Almanac Beer Company has released not one but two pumpkin beers. The Dark Pumpkin Sour is my favorite (if you like your beers a bit bigger, check out their 12% ABV barrel-aged behemoth Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine). It's sour, but not so much so that it overwhelms the underlying roastiness of dark malts and the oaky berry-like fruitiness picked up from its aging in used red wine barrels.

*Note: Author Mike Reis works for the distributor that carries this beer in the state of California.


Brewer's Best ® Seasonal and Limited Recipes

Our seasonal recipes change to capture the flavor of the season, and our limited release kits offer a unique profile each year. Each kit makes 5 gallons of beer (approx. 53-12 oz. glasses).

A chocolate lover's dream. this stout features Brewer's Best® Organic Cacao (Cocoa) Nibs. Subtle and sweet, the cocoa nibs pay homage to the warm, rich roasted coffee and cocoa notes of the chocolate malt. This brew will take you to your childhood when there was nothing better than a large glass of chocolate milk. Enjoy!

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This full-bodied amber beer has a rich, malty character that is flavored with orange peel, cinnamon and other spices. It is a complex winter brew balanced with high alpha-acid hops. At 7- 8% this strong ale will be sure to warm you throughout the festive holiday season.

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Knocking down barriers between wine and beer, our rosé ale is crisp and effervescent, featuring a gentle pink hue. A touch of hibiscus lends light floral notes and a wine-like acidity, while the late addition of Nelson Sauvin hops gives a light wine “fruitiness” with fresh crushed gooseberry and grape infused flavors.

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No other brew epitomizes summer like our Lazy Lemon

Radler! It’s the ultimate blend of two classic beverages,

lemonade and pilsen beer. An innovative twist to the

popular shandy, its crisp, clean, pilsen character and

blend of juicy ripe lemon make this radler the perfect

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Natural blood orange flavoring and sweet orange peel provide aromatic notes of citrus and bright, juicy flavors of blood orange. Fruity esters and spice from the Belgian Saison yeast combine with the mild sweetness

of caramel malts creating a perfect balance between full flavor and refreshing drinkability.

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This seasonal release autumn ale is the perfect companion to the changing seasons - from harvest to the holidays! To spice things up we added cinnamon, allspice and a hint of ginger. The selected hop additions provide a mild balance in bitterness and this ale is fermented with Safale S -04 premium yeast.


Our Story

First… The American Dream…

Although I loved my job with The American Cancer Society, like many folks I dreamed of having my own business someday. And all the years of planning events, helping with weddings, graduations, birthdays, and other celebrations led me to the event planning and catering business. And so, “Over the Top Parties and Events” was born.

And then… The Soup…

After one event, as I was putting away a large quantity of fresh vegetables that we did not use, I looked at my daughter and said…“If we had a restaurant, tomorrow we’d have soup!” And so, the idea of a restaurant was born.

And then… The Food…

We knew we wanted good food…we do love to eat! And although we wanted things to be a little different, quality is of utmost importance. So we start with good wholesome ingredients, bought as locally as possible. Then we add a few family recipes and ideas, a twist of creativity whenever possible, and the philosophy of one of the world’s best master distillers (bourbon)…“We will make good food at a profit, if we can at a loss if we must but always good food.” And so, our menu was born.

And now… 6 Autumns…

The name, slightly different, but still classic and with just enough mystery to get folks talking about it and asking questions…I was reading a magazine, Garden & Gun…it was the first line in an article about landscape architect Charles Swick…“Six Autumns ago Charles Swick was designing a courtyard…” the accompanying photos of Mr. Swick with a tweed jacket and smoking a pipe, the beautiful tree in full fall bloom, and the Robert Frost-ish reference in the title “The path less taken” and I knew I had it!

But… The Bourbon?

Well that’s another story and it all began when I was just 14, but that’s another story, for another time…or at least another menu…


Our Beers

It’s beer season all year round on the Leinie Side. So whether you’re logrolling on a hot summer’s day, ice fishing during winter, or dancing the polka at our favorite German holiday in the fall, we’ve got the beer for every reason and season.

With such a wide range of refreshing beers, why should you have to pick just one? Each of our variety packs comes with four different Leinenkugel’s ® beers for you to enjoy, without the big commitment.

No matter the season or occasion, our range of refreshing year round beers will always be there for you. Through the good times. And the even better times.

The shandy was first introduced by Franz Kugler after a bicycle race in Munich in 1922. His tavern was overrun with thirsty cyclists, so he cut his beer with lemonade and soda so they didn’t run out. This inspired us to combine our Weiss beer with natural lemonade flavor to create Summer Shandy ® , as well as a variety of other refreshing beers, which you can find here.

Seasonal

It’s beer season all year round on the Leinie Side. So whether you’re logrolling on a hot summer’s day, ice fishing during winter, or dancing the polka at our favorite German holiday in the fall, we’ve got the beer for every reason and season.


8 great Pumpkin-free fall beers:

Hop Trip
Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR

No beer style expresses the terroir of fall more than hop harvest or "wet-hopped" beers. In addition to using the usual dried preserved hops, this farm-to-brewery endeavor involves fresh-off-the-vine hops (picked during the late summer/early fall harvest season) that are then added to the beer within 24 hour of being picked. Released in October "until it’s gone," Hop Trip is one such beer. Deschutes’ brewers pick up their Bravo, Centennial and Fresh Crystal hop cones in nearby Salem, Oregon fields and drop them in their brew kettles within four hours of picking. The result is a hugely aromatic, delightfully punchy 6.1 percent ABV pale ale with notes of grapefruit and fall spice, plus a bone dry finish.

Harvest
Long Trail Brewing Company, Bridgewater Corners, VT

Long Trail Brewing Co.'s Harvest is a 4.4 percent ABV English brown ale that hails from Vermont. It makes its territory known thanks to the addition of local maple syrup, which contributes a lingering balanced sweetness to the toasty, nutty aromatics and smoky toffee flavors. This sessional fall seasonal brings wheat scything and leaf raking to mind with each sip.

Autumn Maple
The Bruery, Placentia, CA

No non-pumpkin fall beer list would be complete without this amazing beer from Orange County’s famed brewery. Instead of pumpkin, The Bruery uses yams and then adds maple syrup, vanilla, molasses and spices to create a bold beer with notes of caramel, cinnamon, black pepper and laurel. This beer packs a whopping 10 percent ABV that is perfect to warm you up on a cold autumn evening.

Evil Dead Red
AleSmith Brewing Company, San Diego, CA

Each Halloween, elite San Diego brewery AleSmith Brewing Company releases a "sinister" 6.66 percent ABV blood-red American amber ale. This beer also celebrates the fall hop harvest, with heady aromatics of fresh pine and citrus balanced by notes of toasted grains and caramel apples.

Fuego del Otoño
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, MI

Here’s a compromise. A beer that’s great to drink in the fall from a brewery that has the word "pumpkin" in the name! Fuego del Otoño means Autumn Fire and is a radiant amber "fall saison," with notes of smooth caramel, spicy sour fruit and chestnut. This complex 6.1 percent ABV beer is wild fermented and complex, perfect to sip by the first fall fire of the year.

Double Brown Stout
Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Dallas, TX

This creamy and dark Baltic-style stout from one of Dallas’ preeminent craft brewers is actually a year-round beer, but one whose flavors are a perfect fit for fall. Aromatics of bittersweet baker’s chocolate, coffee and char are followed by secondary flavors of raisin and caramel. This 7 percent ABV warmer is fermented with a lager yeast (instead of ale yeast), which helps create a clean dry finish.

Harvest Ale
Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood, NY

Every year in early fall, New York’s Southern Tier Brewing Company releases a fan favorite seasonal, Harvest Ale. This extremely balanced malt-forward 6.7 percent ABV Extra Special Bitter has pine resin, earthy grass and a waft of pineapple on the nose, with spicy hops and grapefruit rind flavors rounding out toasted caramelized notes.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock
Brauerei Heller-Trum, Bamberg, Germay

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock is a smoky bock-style beer that originated in Bamberg in the 1500s, and today is brewed for the city’s strong beer season, which runs October through December. "Rauch" is German for smoke, and this style uses malts that are dried over an open beechwood fire, imparting a robust, meaty smokiness into the beer. Coming in at 6.6 percent ABV, Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock is matured in oak casks and tastes and smells like bacon cooked over a campfire.


Mount Tammany is just one of the hikes near breweries you can check out. Photograph courtesy Carl Ewald.

Living in a large city like Philly, going on a hike isn’t always as easy as strapping on some boots and stepping out the door (Though it can be if you hit up the copious offerings of the Wiss!) But, many hikes — as gorgeous and rewarding as they may be — require planning, and often, a drive to get to a trailhead. That’s why we think if you’re going to spend time making your way to some of the area’s prettiest trails, you might as well also grab a locally-made beer to enjoy afterwards — or pick up a 6-pack to take home and enjoy in the comfort of your home later on! (Of course, remember to wear a mask when you can’t be socially distant, to imbibe responsibly, and to select a designated driver if need be.)

But seriously, what better way to make a day of hiking than to reward your efforts with a trip to a craft brewery afterwards? Here to help you plan your weekends ahead is Carl Ewald, founder of Run Fest, race director for the Great American Brewery Runs, and expert hiking guide. Below, find six different hikes near breweries where you can spend your Saturdays socially distantly scouting great vistas, checking out some delicious brews, and supporting local businesses.

Hawk Mountain

Drive from Philly: 1 hour 41 minutes

The Hike: “Hawk Mountain is probably the best vista in the state for fall foliage,” says Ewald. “I recommend making a real hike out of it by exploring the trails below the summit first.”

The Brewery: Though it’s an hour away, Sly Fox Brewing Company is right en route to Hawk Mountain. It also has safe, socially distant outdoor dining. Ewald recommends making a stop on the way home – “They have perfect brews for autumn weather hiking,” says Ewald.

Pulpit Rock and Pinnacle Loop

Drive from Philly: 1 hour 30 minutes

The Hike: “This hike definitely is one of the best foliage hikes you can find,” says Ewald. “It’s not easy. The loop will take you across eight miles and up over 1,000 feet in elevation. But it is definitely worth it. Both lookouts will have perfect views of the valley in all its fall glory.”

The Brewery: About 50 minutes away is Hidden River Brewing Company, where you can make a stop on the way back. “This nano brewery excels at IPAs and has a great setting along the river,” says Ewald. They offer a light menu with snack and sandwiches to go along with your brew, and also allow you to bring in your own food if you’ve packed some. They offer COVID-19-compliant indoor and outdoor seating.

Nockamixon State Park

Drive from Philly: 1 hour, 10 minutes

The Hike: “Nockamixon State Park has the largest lake in Southeastern Pennsylvania and a 5,283-acre park,” says Ewald, “Known for its boating, fishing, and horseback trails, Lake Nockamixon is also great for hikes with beautiful views of the lake and the distant hills beyond.”

The Brewery: About a 35 minute drive from Nockamixon State Park on the way back to Philly, “Imprint Beer Co. is one of the hottest young breweries in Pennsylvania,” says Ewald, “Known for its fruited sours and hazy IPAs, Imprint is a must try for any beer nerd hiking through the area.” Imprint’s offerings are ones you can take home with you and sample at your leisure — they offer take-out only pick-up from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Ridley Creek State Park

Drive from Philly: 45 minutes

The Hike: “When you don’t have much time, Ridley Creek is the perfect chance to enjoy fall hiking close to the city,” says Ewald. “The elevation change is limited but the park is stunning.”

The Brewery: “La Cabra Brewing is only a short 15-minute drive away,” says Ewald. “Their food is as good as their beer. Plan to grab lunch here as well.” They offer curbside pick-up if you’d prefer to enjoy your libations at home, as well as socially distant indoor dining and outdoor dining, in open-walled tents.

Mount Tammany

Drive from Philly: 2 hours

The Hike: “Mount Tammany is one of the best hikes in the region. It’s short, but steep. You will go up more than 1,200 feet in less than two miles,” says Ewald. “Once you’re done huffing and puffing at the top, the rock outcropping has excellent views of the Delaware River and the Pennsylvania side of the water gap.”

The Brewery: Swing by Funk Brewing, an hour southwest of the trail, on the way home. “Visit their Emmaus tap room, ” suggests Ewald. The Emmaus location is open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, and offers pick-up options, as well as indoor seating and outdoor dining with umbrellas, picnic tables, and a beer garden feel. They partner with local food trucks to provide eats as well.

Mount Minsi

Drive from Philly: 2 hours, 15 minutes

The Hike: “Mount Minsi is one of my favorite hikes in Pennsylvania. But, I must admit that half of the reason is for the pie. Do not leave Mount Minsi without stopping to pick one up at the Village Farmer,” says Ewald. “There are three great vistas along the trail. You will reach a false summit at about 2.5 miles in. This large rock outcropping has spectacular views of Mount Tammany. Most hikers don’t realize there is a third vista — continue a couple hundred feet further and you earn a completely different view from the other side of the mountain.”

The Brewery: An hour south of the trail in Easton is the original location of the Separatist Beer Project, where you can stop for refreshments on your way back. “It has a great little tasting room right on the waterfront,” says Ewald. They offer pick-up beers to-go, as well as indoor and outdoor dining, and are open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. (You can also visit their location in South Philly.)

Correction: This story was updated on November 16th 2020 to suggest the Emmaus location of Funk Brewing, rather than the Elizabethtown location.


Dogfish Punkin Ale

We get it . pumpkin beers — not for everyone. But if you're going to give one a try, Delaware-based Dogfish is known for making some stellar brews. Also, the folks at Guys Drinking Beer give this one a pretty solid review, noting: "Unlike most other pumpkin beers, I feel like I could drink about 4-5 of 'em at a stretch, whereas the majority in this style are a one-and-done type of drink."


Make Your Best Gratzer

This is a beer you should know how to brew, and the good news is that it's pleasantly simple to brew and sessionably wonderful to drink.

I love a good classic Rauchbier, don't get me wrong: but if I'm at a bar and I see a Piwo Grodziskie (Gratzer, to the Germans), I'm going to pass that Rauchbier right on by.

Gratzer (which we'll call it from now on, because I'm German and writing "Piwo Grodziskie" is time consuming) is another classic, historical style that was all but dead. Craft (and home) brewers have led its comeback, though, and this beer is one that's close to my heart. Gratzer was one of the first beers I had that really hooked my imagination. I'd tasted a small range of "good" beers up to that point, but nothing magical.

Then, one fall afternoon, my brother-in-law pulled out a bottle of this as we were sitting on his back deck, admiring the cool autumn weather and leaves. He opened it up, poured, and I did that thing we beer geeks do when we're surprised and excited with a beer: I took a sip, then looked with widening eyes at the glass, and then went back for more.

This is a beer you should know how to brew, and the good news is that it's pleasantly simple to brew and sessionably wonderful to drink.

STYLE

Gratzer is a low-ABV smoked wheat beer. It has a lot going on, flavor-wise, for so low-alcohol a beer, especially when we consider its recipe (one, maybe two malts, one hops addition, clean ale yeast). The aroma and flavor should both feature noticeable levels of grainy wheat, mild smoke (though you can go higher in darker versions, which we'll touch on below), and a slightly-elevated carbonation level that adds a nice, crisp bite on the palate.

As you might expect given the wheat-centric grist, the beer should have a dense, long-lasting, bright white head atop a pale body (SRM may range as low as 2) do not, though, make a hazy beer. This should be quite clear, despite the wheat. Bittering is modest in absolute terms, but still quite aggressive given the low gravity (20-35 IBUs, or a nearly 1:1 bittering-to-gravity ratio).

One final note on style: since that first Gratzer in the open air with Stan I've consumed a fair few of these beers. It is not monolithic in color, strength, or level of smoke. It is, though, consistently drinkable. Think of English Bitters and how they go down lightly and leave a bit of flinty mouthfeel behind, and you'll be well on your way to "getting" the spirit of this style, even if your recipe adds in more color or alcohol or secondary flavors than a "pure" Gratzer might.

RECIPE

This is a simple grist: Oak-smoked wheat malt, as much of it as you want to hit your target gravity (usually not more than 1.040, and I like to shoot for 1.038). That's it, unless you're going for a variation (more on those in a minute).

Hops are also simple: 28 IBUs of Hallertau, added at 20 minutes left in the boil. That's it. Some prefer the more herbal notes of Saaz or Tettnanger, but I like leaning on the floral, which to my palate is a better pairing with the smoke and wheat.

Finally, yeast: pick your favorite clean ale yeast. Mine is Wyeast 1007, German Ale, and if I get to the end of a brew day and have a few pounds of smoked malt leftover, there's a decent chance I'll turn out a quick batch of Gratzer, just because, and pitch 300-400ml of my yeast starter into it. 1007 is a real workhorse, and it can easily ferment this beer, even if underpitched.

Now, a note on variations: this is a great seasonal session beer. The hotter it is, the lighter you brew it the colder it gets, the darker you can go. I recommend three basic variations. The recipe above is your "warm weather" Gratzer: simple, clean, pale. Then you have your "shoulder season" Gratzer, for fall and early spring: replace one pound of your grist with Munich malt, which will add a subtle level of rich toast.

Finally, the "Winter Gratzer": this is a closer cousin to my Rauchbier, with more-assertive smoke, thanks to swapping out a quarter of the Oak-smoked wheat malt for Cherry-smoked malt. Everything else stays the same. Voila: three recipes for the price of one.

PROCESS

Mash with about three-quarters of a pound of rice hulls to prevent sticking, at standard mashing temps (152F, for me). Boil, chill, and pitch as usual, then ferment at a straight 67F for a few days - it'll be fast. Don't rush it off the yeast, though: I had a batch of this with some residual acetaldehyde once, and although it was minimal it completely wrecked the flavor! Let it sit for a week to ten days, then cold crash and carbonate. I wouldn't go as high as I do for Berliner Weisse, but it should definitely be on the high side: 2.6 volumes of CO2 is a good target.

IN CLOSING

This is a beer that's going to make you look like a better brewer than you are. If you're new to this, especially if you're new to all-grain, brew it. Impress your friends and confound your enemies. Na zdorowie!


16 Incredibly Delicious Apple Cider Cocktails That Taste Like Coziness in a Glass

Impress your guests with these unique and easy-to-prepare apple cider cocktails, the crème de la crème of fall and winter drinks.

’Tis the season for apple cider cocktails and fall drinks. Gallons of fresh apple cider are popping up at farmers&apos markets, grocery stores, and seasonal celebrations, flying off the shelves as people trade their spaghetti-strap shirts for plaid flannels. Maybe you’re even getting into the seasonal spirit by making your own apple cider after a day soaking up the fall foliage while picking apples for your favorite apple recipes.

No matter what kind of apple cider you start out with, adding a few simple ingredients will help you transform this classic fall drink into an even more festive treat. Check out the creative and easy apple cider cocktail recipes below (we’ve even put together an easy-to-save, easy-to-share graphic to make trying some of these cocktail recipes even easier). There’s a sparkling apple cider drink, an apple cider sangria, and even an apple cider punch. These fun beverages using apple cider are the perfect excuse to throw a fall gathering, host your own Friendsgiving, or just snuggle up on the couch with a good book and a warm drink on a chilly day.

You’ll notice that some of the recipes for these apple cider cocktails call for simple syrup—which you can buy at the store, butਊs the name suggests, the sweet addition is actually pretty simple to make yourself. First, you’ll whisk together equal parts sugar and hot water until the sugar is dissolved. Then, you let the mixture chill and store it for up to one week in the fridge. That’s it! Feel free to consult our full recipe for simple syrup, which breaks down our method in more detail.

If you can&apost get enough apple cider recipes (and, let’s be honest, who can in autumn?), these apple cider doughnuts are one of our favorite fall desserts, and these apple cider poached apples are another great use for all the types of apples you’re about to encounter.


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